BC Hydro

Do they wonder why fewer people pay attention?

My children’s grandmother spent final years in our home. She lived for the children and was an oxygen-tank-dragging regular in front row seats at hockey rinks, ball fields, rec centres and concert halls. The kids could do no wrong and she loved to see them smile.

I had only one complaint. I couldn’t have the newspaper until Grandma finished with it. One of her must-reads every day was Vaughn Palmer. It was the 1990s and Palmer was a regular and effective critic of the provincial government. If the columnist’s piece was missing from the daily newspaper, Grandma was unsettled. She wanted to be informed about provincial politics and she believed Palmer’s words were essential.

How things have changed!

3ecc5-false-perceptionToday, the most egregious acts of political commission and omission go unmentioned. Pretend journalists don’t read original documents for information; they rely on press releases, private briefings and whispered interpretations.

Does BC Hydro have a debt problem? That can’t be discussed in media until an ethically deficient reporting agency submits a report to their paying client, the BC Government, and it is filtered by flacks in five different ministries. Then, without basic fact-checking, media can present the Liberal story.

Palmer and most of his corporate media colleagues are no longer reporters, they are explainers. No feet of important persons are held to the fire. Instead, the toes are respectfully massaged and kept toasty warm.

Do the participants in BC’s corporate media wonder why fewer people pay attention?

Ken Doctor, writing at Nieman Lab, made relevant comments in Rebuilding the news media will require doubling-down on its core values:

Journalists and publishers need to breathe new life into the social contract with readers. The audience holds the media accountable, the media holds the powerful accountable.

…As budgets and newsroom workforces throughout the country have been halved, stenography — limp, single-source stories — have become more the rule than the exception. Too few of the remaining local reporters… have both the time and local knowledge to hold local and state politicians and business to account. So they largely — with very important and award-worthy exceptions — don’t do enough of that work.

Increasingly, though, I’ve come to believe that we can’t rebuild local news capacity until we’re more clear about our 21st-century values. What might we include in those values?

It may not be bad to start with a few Robert Fulghum tips from All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

…Those are just for starters, though. Try the four principles of the long-established and once universally accepted Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.

  • Seek truth and report it.
  • Minimize harm.
  • Act independently.
  • Be accountable and transparent.


Categories: BC Hydro, Journalism

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2 replies »

  1. These articles, such as those written by Palmer these days, aren’t much of anything beyond , press releases. It not as if it would be a lot of work to get information, they just have to check some of the blogs which have already done the work.

    its a deliberate decision to not provide the reading public with real information.

    In my opinion, these reporters might just as well be on the b.c. lieberal pay roll. of course the b.c. lieberals don’t need to put them on a payroll they are getting it all for free.


  2. Vaughn must have eaten his Wheaties on Tuesday, as he did Christy no favours in his version of the Moody’s report. (Even the editor chose an unflattering photo of the Photo Op Queen:

    “‘Once adjusting net income to take into consideration the extensive use of largely debt financed regulatory asset accounts, B.C. Hydro posts some metrics that are among the weakest of Canadian provincial utilities,” Moody’s said.

    “Metrics, as in sustainable measures of financial position like revenue, operating costs, ability to cover all those deferral accounts, and service the groaning debt load.

    “All this is being fixed, say the Liberals. But they’ve been saying that for years while Moody’s continues to ring the alarm bells about Hydro finances.

    “That last quote from the latest Moody’s report is especially damaging to the governing party.

    “The Liberals can’t stop boasting about the vaunted Triple A credit rating they’ve brought to B.C. You’ll not hear them admit that under their management, B.C. Hydro has descended to one of the weakest financial positions of any provincial utility in Canada.”



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