Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Politicians and a Sick Puppy

The debate is on, and here come the clowns!

Bob Rae, Liberal chief until his party finds a leader people will vote for, now is centre stage shuckin’ and jivin’ for the CBC.

“Hands Off Our CBC” is the slogan in his campaign and online promotion aimed at drawing support from the dwindling number of voters who still think the CBC is important. It’s a pathetic attempt at helping his own party, not the CBC.

Other politicians aren’t much better. The Conservatives are using their dislike of the Mother Corp as a hot-button issue to agitate voters tired of wasteful spending.

They all miss the point. Voters are sick of the political slicks playing games with issues that need thorough fact finding and thoughtful review.

The CBC is a bloated, sick puppy. Its once awesome news operations have lost the respect of many dedicated, longstanding journalists. It has lost its journalistic way with its desperate efforts to win newscast ratings. How many times do you hear Peter Mansbridge, or someone promoting him or his newscast, use the word ‘exclusive’ when referring to CBC news stories? It has become a joke.

Mansbridge is a visible and prominent part of the CBC problem. He wouldn’t recognize a real news story if it jumped up and bit him on the nose. After decades at CBC, he remains just a voice with no feel for the news, or how it affects people.

What’s needed for the CBC is a serious, independent review. Run it under the microscope, identify its problems, then start fixing it. CBC used to be an important part of Canada. It still can be, if the politicians would quit using it as a pawn in their political games.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Spreading Bad Stuff

Anyone with an Internet connection is a potential reporter these days. Reporter, not journalist. There is a huge difference.
Millions of people are daily reporting, or re-reporting, what someone has passed to them, through email, Twitter, Facebook and other social media connections. Most of what they report is not checked out for accuracy, or put into any context.
Flander Fields Memorial
An example was seen last week with the wide distribution of the email titled I Am Honored to Do This, a text and photos intended to have people bow their heads in memory of those killed in wars. Nice effort for Remembrance Day week, but the message contained seriously inaccurate information.
It said that the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit to have all cross-shaped military headstones removed from cemeteries. That’s not true. It is one of many falsehoods spread around the Internet about the ACLU.
Journalists must check out this kind of stuff before they publish or broadcast. Not only do they face law suits for what they might distribute, their careers rest on accuracy and fairness.
The Internet is the Wild West when it comes to passing along information. It needs to be civilized. All of us, when we receive this kind of information, should at least stop and ask a few questions before hitting a key and passing it along. Where did this come from? It is true? The ACLU misinformation has been has been around for at least a couple of years. A quick search of the Internet would have revealed quickly that it is false.
The email was well-intentioned but wrong. Our society does not need any more wrong information. We get all we can handle from our politicians.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Worthwhile Reflection

There’s frost on the greens and the golf season is pretty much done in the northern reaches of our planet. The end of the season always brings some reflection about games past, what the season’s weather was like and changes in the game in general.
One of the best reflective pieces ever written on golf is The Match by author Mark Frost. The Match is a fine piece of writing that captures clearly and accurately how much the game, and the world, has changed.
Mark Frost is the co-creator of the Twin Peaks television series and writer for the TV show Hill Street Blues.
The Match is about a 1956 wager made between two California millionaires, Eddie Lowery and George Coleman. Lowery bet that he knew two amateurs who could beat two famous pros in a best ball match. The pros were Ben Hogan, just entering the shadows on his career, and Byron Nelson, who was 10 years past his peak. The pros had won 14 major championships between them.
The amateurs were up-and-coming Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward, a party guy who sometimes played hung over.
It was a casual, unpublicized game that has become a golf legend over the last 50 years. It tells about the match, hole by hole, while blending in the histories and personalities of the four men. It takes the reader back to what golf was really like before big money, advertising and television changed it from a game for amateurs to an industry of professionals.
Today’s professional golfers often pick up millions of dollars for a few days play. In 2011, 100 professionals made more than $1 million each. The money paid to professional players in most sports is obscene, considering the desperate human needs seen around the world. On the other hand, professional athletes now are industries, with major expenses. They make a lot of money for a lot of other people and many of them contribute handsomely to charities.
My main complaint about golf today is what it says about our society. It promotes a "get rich quick -- by doing less" attitude that has gained prominence in the world, and is hurting us all. It is the attitude that has helped touch off the Occupy Movements.
The Match is a wonderful read, not just for golfers, but for anyone wishing to reflect on how much the world has changed since the 1950s.