Friday, March 31, 2006

The Crime Of Bad Press

Stephen Harper has been doing an admirable job putting the parliamentary press corps in its place, to remind them that the government of the day, and not the hacks in the gallery, controls the precincts of Parliament and access to information.

And indeed, Canadian political reporters are the most irresponsible, arrogant and opinionated group of so-called expert professionals in the land. They could all stand to be knocked down a peg or two.

But even this might be taking matters a little too far:

A backbench Conservative MP, blasting the media for its testy relationship with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has suggested reporters who write distorted articles be jailed.

In a brief column sent to several newspapers in his Okanagan-Shuswap riding, Colin Mayes said that might help the public “get accurate and true information.”

Mr. Mayes seemed to suggesting in his column that the media be covered by something like the Conservative government's proposed Federal Accountability Act, which would prosecute elected officials and senior public servants who break the public trust.

“Maybe it is time that we hauled off in handcuffs reporters that fabricate stories, or twist information and even falsely accuse citizens,” he writes.

The column was e-mailed Thursday to nine small Okanagan papers, as well as the Vernon Daily Courier, by Wayne McGrath, Mr. Mayes's executive assistant.

The Courier recently decided not to publish the MP's regular columns.

The mental image of windbags like Jane Taber, Thomas Walkom and Susan Riley doing prison time for being generally annoying in print is an amusing one.

But such practices are unworthy of a free society. Such laws could be turned against every one on this blogroll, for the most specious of reasons, by a Liberal government.

Let us not turn journalists into martyrs. The public humiliation of being schooled by the untrained amateurs of the blogosphere is a far more effective punishment than prison.

Source: Globe and Mail

1 comment:

ferrethouse said...

The only crime in journalism today is that it is taxpayer funded. The threat of an authoritarian state doesn't come from Harper's distaste for the media but for the media's taste of taxpayer subsidy.