REPLAY, from August 2010, worth reading again to consider if the situation has improved or degraded in the last three years. Providing a platform for Paul Fromm and his hater friends was inexcusable but I’d say, with exceptions like Jas Johal, the trend has continued downward.
The most effective critic of news media in British Columbia’s today is Harvey Oberfeld. He has particular qualifications since he spent his career in print and broadcast journalism. Indeed, for many years, he was a key participant in the team that made BCTV an unquestioned leader among local television news providers throughout North America.
That group may never be matched again. Clearly, quality started in the Boardroom where Chairman Frank Griffiths had a reputation for allowing professional managers to manage with budgets sufficient to meet the highest professional standards. Ray Peters was one of the suits who understood that product quality mattered every moment the BCTV News logo went on screen. That meant money for skilled people behind the scenes, most with names unknown to the public, as well as for a crew of experienced reporters who had freedom and time to develop stories.
When I was a UBC student, I had good fortune to know Keith Bradbury. He was then completing a law degree but fairly soon after graduation was drawn to broadcasting. BCTV didn’t hire Keith for good looks; he was bright, well educated, experienced in journalism and savvy about politics, including events happening behind closed doors. Cameron Bell was the News Director then and, after a time, the duo of Bradbury and Bell were seen as the brains behind a highly respected and profitable news room employing close to 100 people.
Time moved on; so did the owners. Following the death of Frank Griffiths, new management began to squeeze mercilessly. No one cared about product quality or long term goals, the guiding aim was enhancement of shareholder value in the here and now. Of course, those rising values gave dim-witted corporate speculators the idea that upward trends were inevitable. Pay too much for an asset? Time will cure all, just tell the beancounters to squeeze harder.
That is the scenario that led to British Columbia losing the finest local TV news operation in the country to have it replaced by a sad semi-professional operation using the name Global TV News. Today’s news provider sees its primary role is delivery of weather forecasts, hockey highlights and stealth advertising.
Harv Oberfeld made important points in Truth a Casualty of Inexperienced Reporters, including this:
The downside though [of young, enthusiastic new reporters] is that almost none of them have the historical knowledge of most of the subjects they cover; they seldom get any time to research their subjects before being sent off to cover a press conference or happening; and their questionning skills are underdevoloped, to put it mildly.
If you want to see a perfect example confirming Oberfeld’s diagnosis, look for Global’s report on a “citizen’s demonstration” opposed to allowing 490 Southeast Asian refugees, including about 50 children, to land in Canada. Spokesperson for the Canada First Immigration Reform Committee was Paul Fromm, an inveterate committee former who wants non-white and third-world immigration stopped. No mention was made of Fromm’s past associations or that this sad collection of protesting relics numbered precisely seven.
We can assume that the pretty faces reporting for Global TV don’t know that Paul Fromm’s involvement with the radical racist right dates back over 40 years and includes contacts with the most reprehensible bigots exposed in Canada. Fromm has been kicked out of legitimate political movements for his agenda, the last time by Preston Manning. How the hell does Global TV give a platform to a tiny hate group with absolutely no context for their prattle?
Global routinely ignores real stories involving, for example, incidents of government corruption and dishonesty but gives camera time to an infamous hate monger representing a non-existent citizen’s movement. Here is a screen capture showing the contemptible crew that led Global’s report on the Asian refugees. This is news?