Down With The Print Media
A year ago, I likely would have been more favourably disposed towards the print media, but, as impossible as it might have seemed 12 months ago, the most recent year has lowered my opinion of them significantly.
Two of the main catalysts for this change in attitude were the media treatment of the coalition government (when the media was scared into showing its establishment roots, fronting absurd push polls, calling the NDP commies and screaming for daddy figures to ride to the rescue) and the media coverage of the Green Shift.
For example, consider this from the Globe and Mail's year end / next year look-ahead editorial, "The Liberals were all too happy to accuse the Tories of inaction [with respect to the economic crisis], but did not offer alternative policies so much as the promise of consultation, and refused to move away from their Green Shift plan despite how ill-timed a risky wealth transfer would have been."
"a risky wealth transfer" So, in what way was it risky? In all its coverage, did the Globe identify a single risk from the plan? What might such a risk be? We've had increases in gas taxes over the last 30 years many times, we've had cuts to income taxes many times. As far as I know there hasn't really been any particular risk to such moves.
And also "ill-timed" Why was it ill-timed? Because carbon prices were plunging? But wouldn't that be the ideal time to implement such a shift, to preserve the incentives to conserve? Because the economy was deteriorating? But what difference would the source of taxation matter to the economy - and to the extent that the shift was progressive in nature, wouldn't it mitigate the economic slowdown by putting more money in the hands of those likely to spend it?
The truth is, the person writing the Globe editorial didn't consider these questions. It never occurred to them that to use words that had an actual meaning in reality, they simply were looking to criticize the green shift, didn't want to point out that it was good policy supported by anyone who understood the issues and was unpopular thanks to demagoguing politicians who were amply enabled by the media, and simply picked a few empty words to fill in their sentence such as "ill-timed" and "risky", before moving on the next point.
Consider that this is the Globe and Mail, arguably one of the better newspapers in the country (it's a relative measure), and in their year end summary they have nothing but a few words of offhand, meaningless bs to offer with regard to one of the most important policy debates we faced this year.
As I said, this topic needs a more thorough coverage - I haven't really explained my full thought process in this post, I'm just typing out my impressions. It could be that this is all just sour grapes on my part that a policy I think is a good one was treated with disdain by the media. And maybe newspapers contribute enough of value that they're worth preserving (any suggestions what that value might be?). Or maybe whatever might fill the vacuum if they disappeared (crap like this) would be worse. But more and more I'm convinced that newspapers do more harm than good and that it will be a cause for celebration when they are delivered for the last time.