Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rage Against The Machine (or Swallowing the Red Pill)

(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.

--

My Disclosure:
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

11 comments:

Simon said...

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.

Your knowledge is wrong. See transcripts for VOCM Open Line last Friday morning, first call. I stated my position and situation in no uncertain terms.

If you want to pile on with these speculative smears, at least do your research and get your facts right.

By the way .. .I believe you have a forked tail under your pant and I'm gonna tell the world that. Get ready to drop your drawers to the world to prove otherwise.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BNB said...

I did say "to my knowledge" because I have only heard Sue's response. You were welcome to state your case which is why I e-mailed you the blog entry.

Although I post anonymously as BNB or TDBreen anyone is welcome to speak with me and those who have know full well who I am and my intentions. As you certainly do. I do not post my name on the web as you will notice I was careful not to post yours.

I'm not comfortable with you having peeked inside my pants but you made yourself an enemy of me a while back for some reason.

Your reaction to a request was to spew off hyperbole about fireproof suits and forked tails.

Bring it on.

BNB said...

Mark, Ed, Simon.

The point is simple. If someone has paid you to post an article on your blog, or to call in the open line shows this is not a true reflection of your own personal opinion. It implies a bias, and my point is simple. If you advocate, lobby, or support someone who has paid you to do so then that information is filtered and has to go through an approval process. It would be a courtesy to know if I am hearing Simon's true opinion or something someone told Simon to say.

In blogging we may not be journalists but my opinion is that a certain amount of journalistic morals should come into play. You gents have moderately popular blogs that stand to sway public opinion. Is public opinion being swayed by Simon - fair enough. Is it being swayed by a business - that's an ad and it is something entirely different.

So no Mark I do not accept t-shirts or sleeves of golf balls... I consider that stance to have merit. But that's just me.

WJM said...

I want to track down the guy who introduced the word "lobbyist" into Newfoundland, and rip his tongue out.

It's very clearly that no one in Newfoundland who uses the word "lobbyist", including you, have any idea what it actually means.

Patriot said...

Great article BNB.

The truth of the matter is that several local radio call in gouls, bloggers and quasi-journalists in this province and elsewhere are indeed paid mouth pieces for one "handler" or another.

Their opinions are for sale on a daily or even a minute by minute basis to the highest bidder. I guess a new hot tub and that excursion to the Dominican is far more important than the truth.

I have to say thought that I was a little offended that you didn't mention my blog (just kidding). A place, not unlike your own, where true opinion is important rather than the kind that's bought and paid for.

Cheers and keep up the great work in supporting our fine homeland. If there were more of you around this place would be much better for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Sir:

Paid lobbyists are required to register in Newfoundland & Labrador under the Lobbyist Registration Act. As is the case under federal law, it does not matter if the lobbyist calls himself a lobbyist, communications consultant or lawyer: if he is paid to communicate with public policy makers (directly or through tactics like organizing postcard campaigns, call-ins to talk radio, etc.) in order to affect a public policy or program decision, then he must register as a lobbyist in the Provincial Lobbyist Registry.

Accusing a person of being paid to promote a particular viewpoint on public policy is accusing him of a crime - paid lobbying without having registered as a lobbyist.

These accusations and speculations are more than casual smears against individuals' characters. They are accusations of criminal activity. Such accusations must be made (if made at all) with great clear evidence, great discretion and concern for one's own legal status - libel is a crime.

Anonymous said...

Some posters here and elsewhere show a shocking disregard for law and social convention when they accuse, without a particle of evidence, others of what is at best misrepresentation and at worst a crime.

What if someone accused bnb or patriot of being alcoholics, shoplifters or pedophiles - and demanded that they make a public statement of denial? Would that be an acceptible accusation, in the absense of evidence? Would that be a reasonable request?

But, you say - the author of offalnews is always spouting opinions in public, on his blog and on open line; isn't that enough evidence to at least beg the question?

But, the someone replies - bnb and patriot are often seen having a beer, picking things up in stores and walking near parks and schools; isn't that enough evidence to at least beg the question?

OF COURSE NOT!

Not in either case.

touton said...

Good point Anon but while both Simon and Ed are valued members of the Liberal party (including considering running as a candidate and being a liberal premier's media consultant) I don't believe BNB or Patriot every worked for a brewery, shopping mall or daycare.

BNB said...

I'm not in the habit of responding to "anonymous said" on any forum. But let me ask if you honestly believe that every journalistic point of view, blog, open line call is done in the interest of a personal point of view only. That every person who uses the media and is paid to do so is listed publically. That every person on open line that says "The Danny Williams Team" and is not running for office is listed in this registry. That every person working as a consultant through affiliations that eventually lead you to the actual "Lobbyist" is listed? That every Terry the Tory, and Libby the Liberal who haunt the open line and write blogs and articles are somewhere listed in a grand list.

Do you think that is honestly the case. For the record there may have been a perceived insinuation of the authors of offalnews, bondpapers etc. but there was never a statement of fact. I merely stated these blogs in follow up to the Independent article which listed the same. MY response was that when I read these blogs I want to know if it is a true opinion on behalf of the authors or if it is a product of a communications machine. Filtered approved and presented for your consideration.

You comment about Libel is very Danny'esk. We do have freedoms in this country - nothing I wrote was close to Libel.

Ussr said...

"By the way .. .I believe you have a forked tail under your pant and I'm gonna tell the world that. Get ready to drop your drawers to the world to prove otherwise." - OH Big Boy,Simon,trying to scare the bad out spoken blogger.

What are you Simon besides an experiment gone wrong Fool.I should netcat over too that two dollar Mac you have and stick a shell up your ass Fool!!!

Great Article ,BNB!!!Nice to see that some people can write the truth with-out being paid for it.Normally people are paid for telling Lies and no one gives them criticism!!!Only those that feel they have to threaten others have something to hide!!!