The news media is a funny animal. In its claims of journalistic integrity it is non-the-less influenced by agenda and bias. The weeds of opinion propagate from it and are nurtured at the womb of public opinion where it grows. In the public eye truth is elusive. Media broadcasts to its audience blindly, not knowing who is listening or how they will respond. Like coins thrown on a sidewalk we cannot tell who will pick it up or how it will be used.
This is why it has become increasingly important to view with a critical eye. To take pause and look at the stuff under a microscope. A great deal of it is fast-food for the mind, quick and immediately gratifying but in the long run not altogether healthy.
Consider a relatively benign article that has just cropped up on the CBC website. It lists housing prices changes from May 2005 to May 2006.
Here is a sampling of average MLS home prices in May (with year-over-year changes in brackets):
* Calgary: $358,214 (+43.6%)
* Edmonton: $242,936 (+22.9%)
* Halifax-Dartmouth: $210,225 (+7.6%)
* Montreal: $219,433 (+8.2%)
* Ottawa: $260,219 (+4.7%)
* Quebec City: $150,324 (+6.9%)
* Regina: $142,147 (+10.3%)
* Saint John, N.B.: $129,844 (+12.3%)
* Saskatoon: $162,279 (+11.5%)
* Nfld. & Lab.: $133,541 (-1.2%)
* Thunder Bay, Ont.: $118,804 (-9.0%)
* Toronto: $365,537 (+5.5%)
* Vancouver: $518,176 (+23.7%)
* Winnipeg: $159,801 (+12.5%)
* Canada: $303,836 (+12.9%)
A quick look at these numbers will tell you one thing. Newfoundland and Labrador was
only one of two places with a decline in housing prices. The overall story tells how the average house in major markets has topped $300K. In this context Newfoundland and Labrador may be implied to have poor economic growth when we this as an economic indicator. But let's put it under the microscope of scrutiny. The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is compared against urban centres in the rest of Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador is the only listing that has provincial stats against urban areas. The unfiltered picture of this economic indicator would have included the City's of St. John's in this comparison and the provincial stats with other provincial stats. Of course this unbiased table would have to throw the -9% from Thunder Bay back into the mix and give us a lower figure for Ontario.
So what's on the go? Is the CBC guilty of a conspiracy against this province to put some sort of negative spin on things that relate back to us, or are they simply very poor analysts; comparing apples to bakeapples? And does it really matter? This is little more than a whining complaint of this beleaguered province unless you are inclined to take the media and public opinion seriously.
Does it matter that organizations have used the face of a whitecoat seal in contrast to the furrowed brow of a fisherman with a club?
Does it matter that The Globe and Mail is sprinkled liberally with stories of down-east handouts in contrast with stories of success for money to fund Bombardier in Quebec?
Is it important that touching stories of textile factories closing are not written with the same pen as the story about handouts for fishermen?
I guess it mostly depends on whose hand is on the tail that is wagging the dog. Perhaps equally as important, what the dog had to eat before all the wagging was started to begin with. Sooner or latter someone’s bound to be dumped on. My hopes are that on occasion it will happen to the hand that wags the tail.