Newspapers Canada, an industry association, states high minded principles.
“A free press is essential to our democratic society. It enables readers to . . . make informed judgments on the issues and ideas of the time.
“The newspaper’s primary obligation is fidelity to the public good. It should pay the costs of gathering the news. Conflicts of interest, real or apparent, should be declared. The newspaper should guard its independence from government, commercial and other interests seeking to subvert content for their own purposes.
“The newspaper keeps faith with readers by presenting information that is accurate, fair, comprehensive, interesting and timely. . .
“However, the operation of a newspaper is a public trust and its overriding responsibility is to the society it serves. The newspaper plays many roles: a watchdog against evil and wrongdoing, an advocate for good works and noble deeds, and an opinion leader for its community. The newspaper should . . . be accessible and accountable to the readers it serves, whether rich or poor, weak or powerful, minority or majority. . . “
The principles listed are noble but, unfortunately, not always observed. Newspapers in North America operate too much with the spirit of once powerful American politician Everett Dirksen,
“I am a man of principle, and one of my basic principles is flexibility.”
In this province, we have seen much flexibility among those who present news, whether in print or by broadcast. This is unfortunate because the precepts listed are vital to preservation of democracy. Our media does not serve as a watchdog against evil nor is it accessible and accountable to those it serves, if they are poor or weak.
|Robbie Burns in Stanley Park|
My grandfather was proud of quoting Robbie Burns but my youthful ears were closed and I was unappreciative. However, I’ve grown mindful of Burns’ wisdom. This is from his poem “Here’s A Health To Them That’s Awa”
Here’s freedom to them that wad read,
Here’s freedom to them that wad write,
There’s nane ever fear’d that the truth should be heard,
But they whom the truth would indict.