Thursday, June 05, 2003

As if we needed another reason to move away from commercial/conglomerate news outlets.

Highlights from the column (linked above) by Luke Eric Peterson include the following:

Many believe that with the advent of the Internet, the public has more information than it could ever need. But simply because there is more to read than ever before, doesn't mean that we are getting everything we should be reading...

Shareholders in media companies rarely smile upon editors who deploy armies of reporters on costly, painstaking investigations, which may or may not produce results, six, 12 or 18 months down the road.

Far simpler is it for editors to give a twenty-something an expense account and ask for lengthy dispatches from the front-lines of dating, than to underwrite serious (and costly) investigations...

...If no one is doing the basic investigation, the information simply goes unreported.

There is some danger that critics of a state-funded newspaper, particularly those in the media, cling to a narrow vision of the press's role in a democracy. To be sure, the press ought to serve as a government watchdog.

But in an era, characterized by the retreat of the state, where privatization and globalization accord a much weightier role to the business community, we also need media outlets capable of focusing their attention on economic actors whose activities can have profound impacts upon local economies, employment levels, public health and environmental protection...

Go read the article. Now. Peterson's no cheerleader for state-funded media either. He does, however, carefully weigh the options to draw his own plausible solution.

I just read another interesting column (also hosted by Rabble). This one, by Andrew Potter, explores the idea of Canadian culture. Potter makes some interesting observations; however, I think they are no more valid than any of the observations made by a host of Canadian literati and statespersons throughout the almost 136 years of Confederation.

In the grand Canadian tradition of navel-gazing, it is more attractive to problematize than to solve. It is as Robert Kroetsch--one of my Canadian favourite poets--said: "We are not so much existentialists in our individual lives as in our version of nationhood. Canada invents itself daily. Perhaps the newspaper is our poem, our weather the poem's subject." (Robert Kroetsch, 1977, "Canada is a Poem" 15)

For this reason in itself I believe there is truth in Potter's assertion that institutions--rather than culture--shape Canadian values. It is the institution that anchors us. Otherwise we are content to stay adrift, changeable.

It is the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity.
- Marshall McLuhan, 1969; Hamilton and Shields 453

The calculated ambivalence of the Canadian is a most efficient way of maintaining a low profile, as a receptive ground for other people's fantasies.
- Marshall McLuhan, pub. 1989; Colombo, Dictionary 67

The Canadians knew themselves to be strangers in their own land, without being at home anywhere else.
- character in Robertson Davies, World of Wonders, 1975; Colombo, Dictionary 73

Our identity? To me it is as rich and many-faceted as the names of our people. There has never been any doubt about that identity in my mind. Further, I feel no more need of definining it than I do of defining God.
- Margaret Laurence, 1977; 23

Within our diversity lies our strength. It is not a strength which wishes to free ourselves and our own land from control by other powers. It is a rising strength which wants to reclaim . . . our land and our resources. . . .
- Margaret Laurence, 1977; 23

And I suppose that's enough navel-gazing for now. There'll be more from me, personally, later.

N.B.: I apologize for the crappy citations, but that's the form in which they were given to me (by a professor!) and I don't have the time or the energy to fix them right now.

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