"Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government"
Hugo L. Black - Most influential US Supreme Court Justice in the 20th century
In Newfoundland and Labrador we take for granted that our press is free - whatever that might mean. Perhaps it means they are free to say what they want within the laws of libel. Perhaps it means they are not subject to censorship. Perhaps. But, are they unrestrained? That is a valid question in this province. The press here are routinely criticized for simply regurgitating whatever press release or commentary the provincial government may give them. They are criticized for not questioning, thoroughly enough, politicians. There are exceptions of course. Take Russell Wangersky of The Telegram. Award winning journalist. Deep thinker. Critical thinker. Focuses on the issues of our day, and is not judgmental. He is a professional and recognized nationally as such. Unfortunately, there is the other side of the coin, and in the same paper. Reporter James MacLeod recently published on Twitter that his primary advice to journalism students on the meaning of journalism was to "not be a jerk". There are other professionals at the province's main paper to be sure. There are also many that fall into the other category.
The worst offender in this province, without question, is the local CBC. I've met and worked with CBC reporters all over the country, but never have I seen an operation like this one. Maybe if Harper is looking to privatize a part of CBC it could be this one - save the rest cause CBC is otherwise a great, professional organization. Personally, I've had a number of really amateur experiences with CBC NL. Without going into great detail, this one is my most notorious http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/cochrane-the-curious-case-of-brad-cabana-1.1373079
Then there is the case of CBC Labrador. In an interview with a team searching for the Muskrat Falls u-boat a reporter stated I was trying to stop the Muskrat Falls project by involving the fabled sunken u-boat. That was not the case, or ever the case, and I contacted the producer of the show and requested the same time to refute that statement. The producer promised to look into the matter and get back to me - that was months ago. It's part of a pattern, frankly, at the CBC here - lazy journalism, personality framing, and reputation smearing. It's like having your high school rumor mongers in charge of discharging real news to people. The case in point that finally set me off to write this long over due blog is Alderon Iron Ore Inc.
For disclosure purposes, Alderon and Danny Williams are suing me for defamation, and I am counter-suing for the same. When Alderon and Williams sued, their Statement of Claim was published on the CBC website as part of the story. When I counter-sued my Statement of Defence was not published with the story. In other words, the CBC NL allowed Williams/Alderon's statements against me to stand without perspective. They also allowed public commentary on one side's story and not on the other. That prompted a very pointed article by one of the critically thinking bloggers at The Telegram http://www.thetelegram.com/Blog-Article/b/22420/Comment-Disabled . These are just examples that are personal to me.
This, however, is truly bizarre. Check out this story of Alderon demanding a power line for it's mining project http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/alderon-says-clock-ticking-on-need-for-hydro-line-1.2509399 . The Minister Derick Dalley said earlier this week that the third power line would have to go through the PUB and that could take 4-6 months. Today, just days later, he says the decision will be next week. In addition, press sources reported Alderon had signed agreements with the Innu Nation and a Labrador municipality for revenue sharing. All positive stories on Alderon.
Now, check out this story from the South China Morning Post: http://www.scmp.com/business/commodities/article/1388556/hebei-iron-may-face-closer-watch
This story was forwarded on to the CBC and other provincial media outlets. Did they publish one word of it to their readership/listeners? No, they didn't. This despite the fact that Hebie Steel's only Canadian business is its investment in Alderon. This quote is a major red flag:
"Hugo Williamson, managing director of Risk Resolution Group, a British consultancy, said such allegations could result in extra scrutiny of a wide range of relationships that foreign firms had with Chinese state-owned enterprises.
Deals with companies in Canada in particular were likely to be examined by domestic investigation agencies if allegations of bribery were involved, Williamson said.
Hebei Iron and Steel did not reply to repeated request for a response to questions from the Post."
Then there is this quote which should concern every person in the province who pays taxes and/or utility bills, and will be forces to pay $300 million for a power line from the Upper Churchill to the mines:
"If there were insufficient funds within the group to make good on any losses sustained, then the parent company might be forced into a fire sale of assets, the lawyer said."
As troublesome and disturbing as it is that our media have not reported this story to the people of the province, there is more. Hebei has been ordered to cut back its production of steel by the Chinese government, thereby reducing demand for iron ore: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2013-11/26/content_17132724.htm the massive cut back to Hebei raises the very logical question: Why would Hebei need more ore?
While Alderon has put out press release after press release about this agreement or that agreement it has signed with groups in Labrador, it has not uttered one word or printed one release to let shareholders know the situation of their primary partner and investor - Hebei. That may be an issue with folks like the Ontario Exchange Commission. Bottom line is the people in this province deserve to know what their politicians are committing them to, and frankly, CBC NL is being down right negligent in its duty to inform by spinning the positive but ignoring the other. It's a standard of journalism that has tainted the words of Hugo Black noted above. If the press is free, then what is restraining them? We deserve so much better, and thank God we get that from the three open line radio shows in the province run by VOCM. I shudder to think what the democracy of our province might look like without it.
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)