The shooting of Don Dunphy is the latest, and for us most tragic, example of the media attacking social media. It's not new, but it's becoming hyper-inflated.
When Don Dunphy was killed by the personal security detail of the premier of Newfoundland in his home on Easter Sunday the media got it all wrong. It jumped on one part of a five part tweet. It painted Donny as a half-crazed injured worker striking out threateningly at the premier of the province. But then social media intervened. The twitter message in its full context filled the airwaves. Suddenly the story that was being perpetuated in the media began to fall apart - embarrassingly so. To give David Cochrane of the CBC credit, which is painful, he did get those tweets out there and helped change the conversation. Yet, stations like VOCM continued with the one tweet, dangerous threat scenario.
Then of course there is the issue of what happened in the home. Again, David Cochrane led the story that "sources" said Don Dunphy pointed a gun and that's why he was shot. Then the RCMP came out the next day, and to settle the public down in their words, they released that indeed it was a fact that Don Dunphy pointed a gun at the officer after 15 minutes of conversation - that suddenly went bad. Their source for this information? The very officer that shot Don Dunphy multiple times in his home, killing him instantly. Now, if this were a person who was not a police officer that person would be in custody and have to prove self-defence to a judge. Not in this case. No, in this case the officer sits at home on paid leave while the family buries their loved one. Yet, the word of the man who fired the shots without witnesses is propagated like it was the undeniable truth, when any common sense, right thinking person might well think an officer in such a situation might have a reason to cover his arse. That's not to say that he did, it's just to say that he had plenty of reason to.
Then, despite a "we can't comment, it's under investigation" defence, the RCMP releases a bit more information. This time it was yes, indeed, the premier's bodyguard came and saw us, did a threat assessment, and saw Donny's brother before he went to the house. The media dutifully spills the news for all to lap up. Yet, in the detail it's let out that threat assessment is a computer search if there's a criminal record on the man. Not a detailed, comprehensive, he did all he could do type threat assessment. And so it goes. Selective news leaks, to selected news reporters, for the sole purpose of "calming the hordes".
Then the premier went on local and national television to tell all that it was Don Dunphy's fault, that his staff contacted his bodyguard about "threats" and the bodyguard did his job, and it was changed world out there, and that in a personal phone call after the shooting he gave the bodyguard a call and gave him his "personal support". On the national CBC news broadcast Davis repeated the same talking points he had said earlier to the provincial media. This time the national reporter looked at him incredulously and asked if the premier was comparing Donny Dunphy to Al Queda or ISIS. In other words, what the hell are you talking about. The question would seem obvious to most of us, but it slipped past our provincial media...
Just yesterday, the bodyguard under investigation became a non-bodyguard...according to David Cochrane...again...from a "source"...again... a selective leak to calm the hordes...again. The premier, the man whose office sent the now ex-bodyguard (apparently) to see Don Dunphy has announced he will make a decision on a judicial inquiry after the RCMP investigation. The man whose office is responsible for the events that led up to Don Dunphy's death is going to decide if Don's death warrants a judicial inquiry - after the RCMP, who were somewhat involved in the Dunphy shooting, finish the investigation of his death. Not to mention that both police forces serve as the premier's bodyguard. Yes, the same bodyguard whose member killed Don Dunphy. It's all good though, because the RCMP, who were involved somewhat in the shooting, have appointed a retired judge to watch over them. And so it goes, you can't make this shit up.
Where's the media on all of this? Now the tweet is no longer described as the "threat", but rather the "perceived threat". Even though anyone with less than high school English can clearly see the tweets had nothing to do with the premier, but referred to two already dead politicians. Facts be damned, we'll call it a perceived threat because the RCMP and the premier's office are apparently illiterate. On the rifle bit, yes, that's still out there as a fact, even though it has yet to be confirmed by forensics or anything else - other than by the shooter. The investigation? Nothing to see here folks. Not a single word or criticism that the RCMP were investigating a police killing that they were involved in. Nope. Not happening. All the rest is covered by:"we have to wait for the results of the investigation". Convenient when so many troubling questions already are quite factually evident.
However, it's becoming more and more obvious that in this province the media is not concerned by facts. It's concerned about keeping it's position as the filter of truth that feeds the public as it sees it, and when it feels like it. Despite being some of the most active on twitter, reporters and broadcasters here decry the "irresponsible" and "nut-bar" approach of social media. It's as if the media senses, in the free exchange of information and ideas on social media, it's own demise. And in that assumption there is truth. The media is quickly becoming the dinosaur of the information age. As the world becomes more plugged in, and the populations better educated, the media looks more and more like a vintage of yesteryear. Tired, worn out, and out of ideas. More concerned about keeping those subscription numbers and reporters salaries than asking the tough, but quite obvious questions. Instead, the Don Dunphy killing is just the latest example of the media shooting the messenger. Shooting the social media. The very people who they hope to influence with their "news".
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)