Times & Trashscript vs. the CBC

I know I sound like a broken record with my T&T bashing but I truly believe it is very important to underscore the dangers of such a publication to the long term success of a province like New Brunswick.

As I understand it, the T&T has a fairly wide circulation. Not only in Moncton, the paper is distributed in the Miramichi and I believe further north.

The reckless and one-sided reporting, particularly on political and economic issues serves to do nothing except keep the average NBer in the dark about the realities facing the province. At worst, the paper should be targeted as one contributing factor to the general malaise about economics and politics in the province.

Consider today’s “We Say”. It’s the same old mindless drivel that lacks any sense of nuance or basic journalistic balance. Here’s some of the rot:

Taxpayers should thank the PCs
We Say: There is no conflict and nothing unusual about the N.B. Conservative Party paying its leader in addition to his publicly-paid legislative salary

At least two media outlets in New Brunswick, including the publicly funded CBC, have been making a considerable to-do over the fact the New Brunswick Conservative Party has paid its leader, Premier Bernard Lord, almost $70,000 a year on top of his legislated taxpayer-paid salary, but it is a lot of hot air and bellyaching over nothing.

In fact, taxpayers should be thanking the PC party for its actions – and the money comes from private donations to the party, all of which are accounted for publicly each year and are strictly controlled – since it lessens any pressure for government to increase taxpayer-funded political salaries.

The facts are simple, despite the media huffing and puffing (ironically from an outfit that gets the bulk of its funding from taxpayers whether they listen to it or not): the payments are legal, the payment was approved by the conflict of interest commissioner in advance, there is no conflict of interest, and the practise has many a precedent in Canadian politics.

Taxpayers should thank the PCs. That’s the best that Al Hogan can do. In the past few months he has bashed Saint Johners for exercising their democratic rights (not voting for ‘rootin’ for Hootin’), he has shamelesses defended every possible criticism of the provincial government to the level that his We Says sound verbatim like the Premier’s chief spin doctor.

And he has the gall to try and smear the only media outlet doing any kind of real journalism in this province. That CBC story was well researched and well reported and a subject that should be of interest to New Brunswickers. We will decide our opinion of it one way or the other but the T&T’s approach of serving up pablum to its readers and then criticising everyone else that actually reports real stories (including the sister publication the Telegraph-Journal) is a discredit to the people of Greater Moncton who are actually a little more intelligent than Al Hogan gives them credit for.

This stuff is way over the top. Beyond anything I’ve seen with the exception of tabloids. We know that the New York Times is a left leaning paper. Fine. But its stories are well researched and its editorials are thought provoking and worthy of publication. The same can be said about most of Canada’s newspapers (right, left or centre leaning).

Al Hogan thinks Monctonians are stupid. And we (including me) keep reading this drivel. If we had any common sense we would boycott that publication in droves until they found an editor that was interested in the common good of New Brunswickers. Interested in challenging us on issues of vital importance like the future of our province. Interested in challenging government when necessary and praising it when warranted.

I honestly feel that the T&T is a major impediment to the future of this province. I really do. by not challenging government, we get no vision and no real action on issues of vast importance. And when somebody else has the courage to shine a light on things of importance, the arrogant We Say tries to numb the public with its haughty rhetoric.

And as for bashing CBC, let me tell you something. I watch media for a living. I read dozens of these publications every day. For clients, I look at newspapers far and wide. And I have yet to find a single paper as one-sided and biased as the Times & Trashscript. The CBC is a paragon of journalistic integrity compared to that bunch. I’m sorry but that’s how I feel.

If I had my way, the CBC would publish a newspaper to provide some counterbalance to the drivel we have to read every day.

And to make matters worse, my wife is constantly pointing out the many spelling and grammatical errors.

Final point on this. Al is not doing Premier Lord any good. He thinks he is. And when Lord and Pothier pick up the T&T daily and real all the glowing reports, I think they are very happy. But on the street, in the cafes and just about everywhere except the pages of the T&T, the mood is changing in New Brunswick. The wool can be pulled over the eyes for only so long. Eventually New Brunswickers will want a leader that will make a serious attempt to tackle these deeply rooted problems of economy, out-migration, education and social realities. Or, alternatively, we will just want change for change’s sake.

A thought provoking and mildly decent journalistic style at the T&T would give politicians food for thought. It would provide insight to voters that they could use when talking with elected officials. It would provide the public with a good understanding of our challenges.

Al Hogan is a progressive conservative. Fine. That has been evident since the first day he started at that paper. I have no problem with that. He can bash the federal Liberals and talk up the federal Conservatives. Fine. He can bash City Hall as much as he likes (because there are no party labels down there). He can talk in loving terms about Bernard Lord all day long. Fine. But he must, for the good of the community and the province, not purposely shield us from the information that we rightly deserve. Some of us will get it from the CBC or the Telegraph-Journal – but the vast majority of Monctonians rely on the T&T.

I am fabulously curious why the Irvings would let him continue as editor. Wildly curious. Yes, he continues a long standing policy of not writing stories about the Irvings and their businesses, but don’t the Irvings want the economic challenges of the province addressed? Wouldn’t it be in their best interest to have a local newspaper serving up good and wide ranging stories on economic development and politics? What possible good would the Irvings accrue by trying to keep Greater Moncton’s purposefully in the dark about New Brunswick’s economic and social problems? I don’t get it. Don’t their kids live here? Don’t they have a stake in our future? Who will buy Irving gas when the population declines to below 700,000 within a decade or so? Who will shop at Kents when 4/5 of the cities and towns in New Brunswick are continuing to lose population? As one of the major economic drivers of the province don’t they have an obligation of any kind when it comes to their media holdings?

Some were critical of the Irving-owned ‘Here’ when it put a boob on its cover recently. I am ten times more critical of what they aren’t putting in their flagship paper.

If anybody wants to set up a petition to be sent to whoever, I’ll be the first to sign.