(The following is not a paid endorsement of anything - whatsoever)
Neo was offered a choice between a blue pill and a red pill. The question offered by The Matrix is essentially this: If given the choice between status quo or exploring the true reality of your environment with all of its deception revealed, what would you choose? Status quo is comfortable, reality is the food of cynics. Sometimes I sincerely regret having swallowed the red pill.
I’ve had visions of Newfoundland and Labradorians of all stripes and colours being lead to the Promised Land, the North Atlantic parts as we are packing our salt fish and toutons. The further I dive into these waters though I fully expect to one day drown. This blue funk comes from the realization of the strength and scope of the media machine. Blame it on Ryan Cleary who asked the question as to who pays who to do what? From what motive are bloggers, newspaper journalist, and open line haunters driven? When I suck in the information from these media outlets am I hearing an ad or an opinion?
nlpost.blogspot.com has provided a piece of this puzzle. It appears one brand of coercive hired hand is the Lobbyist. For this particular breed of paid "consultant" there is reasonable disclosure as the feds require that Lobbyist are registered. However - all that the lobbyist registry tells me is that there is an elite brand of political whore that is well paid indeed. The lobbyist registry is a museum of ghosts of politicians past. Those who do not yet have a senate seat, waiting in the lobby. I wonder if that is where "Lobbyist" gets its name?! Old politicians never die they just lose the use of their caucas.
Fair enough, we know who the lobbyists are. Who then are the "communications consultants" and those other breeds of opinions for hire. From what wallet are they paid and are they paid for their open line appearances, blogging, and articles in the newspapers? The piece in The Independent has persisted for weeks and calls into question the credability of the free speakers of the web.
To my knowledge only the author nlpost.blogspot.com has said she is not paid by any interests she writes about, or discusses on open line. So here is my question: When I read offalnews.blogspot.com, or bondpapers.blogspot.com and the likes that were listed in The Independent am I reading an opinion, or an advertisement. If an advertisement appearing in my news magazine resembles an article it is disclosed at the top as an "advertising supplement". When I see an infomercial on TV it is prefaced with "The following is a paid broadcast." Not so for alternative media like blogs and open line shows.
Then Ryan Cleary of the Independent himself posts a "story" for Astraeus which appears to have been little more than an ad. The great hope for Independent Journalism bought by an airline? Is there no one who is untainted by the dark spew that is the waste product of the Media Machine? Does anyone even care? What difference does it make if a person is paid for their public opinion? It matters in the same way that trans fats matter in our fried chicken; we don't want to feed ourselves processed news. It's just not healthy.
No wonder it takes so damn long for anything good to happen around here. Our communities are turned into a courthouse - week after week we deal with argument and counter-argument trying to win favour of the elusive public opinion. Most of it BS. The Media Machine produces information fast-food. The Liberals have one, the Conservatives have one, big oil has one, Hydro has one... Shouldn't we know when our information has been produced by an algorithm which determines what information it spews out and when. Shouldn't we know when the machine has chopped up the meaty facts and is feeding us the sausage? Bologna factories run by the powerful and elite.
I have wrench and I'm prepared to use it. Brace yourself for the squeal of grinding gears. I've tried like a bastard to spit that red pill out, but it’s already half digested. God help me.
The preceding was not a paid announcement on behalf of anyone. I have had a coffee with writers in the Independent. I have worked through a friend for Siobhan Coady's campaign run, I have sat with the NL First executive and voiced my advice and opinions to Loyola Hearn, Peter McKay, and Peg Norman and others. I am a founding member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Defense League, a multi-partisan, all inclusive group that aims to serve the people of this province including the author of offalnews.blogspot.com who has publicly criticized the NLDL - but remains a member. I am also a member of the Community Linkages Concept Committee (clccnl.ca in progress), which serves to work for a sustainable rural Newfoundland and Labrador with an emphasis on education, innovation and youth initiatives.
I did all of this without a single copper entering my pocket... and I will continue to do so. Like a damn fool.
UPDATE: Apparently the author of offalnews which was one of those noted in The Independent article has publically made a statement as to his blogging motives and the issue of having a paid opinion. I apologize for to that blogger if I was making an unfounded insinuation. I will venture to find the statement he made and clarify.
His Response is here