Northern Insights has been a modest blog about political issues affecting Canada’s west coast. So, it was a surprise two days ago when readers began arriving at an hourly rate measured in four figures. The draw was our catch of Global TV spicing a Toronto G20 report with footage taped too far away and too long ago. The story stimulating traffic at Northern Insights was passed around by Facebook, Twitter, bloggers and web referral sites. While not exactly going viral, it found a large Internet audience.
Through SiteMeter tracking, I see the locations of visitors, referring sites and pages reads, etc. Recent visitors have come from all over the world, mostly North America, but many from far afield. I am most intrigued when reviewing the referrals. Probably, the Global TV story is not about corporate POV but more about a news provider carelessly charging a report for dramatic effect. Whether news is corrupted by intent, through incaution or overburdened staff unable to cope with deadlines doesn’t much matter.
Small elements of news reporting are vital. Video and word selections distinguish professionalism. In addition to the Vancouver footage inserted in the Toronto report, I find fault with reporter Mike Drolet‘s description of people calling for an official inquiry into G20 policing as “hardcore demonstrators” for a cause that is losing followers. People peacefully calling for an inquiry are hardcore demonstrators? All of them? That is unfounded opinion and saying they are losing followers is probably an incorrect conclusion given the broad discussions underway, a growing Facebook site of more than 50,000 calling for an inquiry, opposition MPs demanding one, rallies throughout Canada for civil rights and a class-action lawsuit launched. Drolet was a reporter, not an editorialist; he should be cautious of voicing unsupported conclusions based on his own point of view. That is not the role of a reporter.
Issues of media access, fairness and balance engage citizens of all political persuasions. When I go to web sites that are linking to my Global TV story, it is apparent they come from all sides and the non-political middle ground. Linking blogs are those of conservatives, progressives and even anarchists. Many are troubled by this example because their level of mistrust in media is high. The profession probably doesn’t help because it tends to be defensive, self-protective, inattentive to mistakes and oblivious to lack of balance. More importantly, its editorial decisions often defer to commercial interests.
Some believe there is less a problem of left leaning bias or right leaning bias and more of an inclination to favor corporate goals. Modern business management is measured by relatively short term results. That means willingness to sacrifice long term values such as reputation and capability for quick gains in current period profitability.
This Global News story here was an undeniable error, even accepted by the broadcaster as a mistake. They pulled the offending newscast from their website and said, “We will also issue a correction/clarification to our viewers during our newscast on Saturday, July 17 and on our website.”
I can’t resist saying that correction/clarification is interesting wording. I guess the first is admission of a mistake by the broadcaster, the second admits only that the audience may have been too dull to understand so the TV guys will explain again.
Suggested online reading: What causes media bias.