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Politics

Holding mobs to account

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The online magazine Tyee takes a look at the impact of “citizen journalism” on the U.S. election, and specifically its role in revealing the mob mentality at the Republican rallies. The links to videos are worth a look.

An excerpt of the piece by Ben Shingler:

“It’s been especially evident during the current U.S. election that the Internet’s become the champion of the politically outrageous, ignorant and scary. In traditional forms of media, voices on the margins are generally excluded from public debate, but the Internet has changed that. It’s shed light on disturbing corners of society that normally go unseen by the viewing public.”
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Schoolyard bully politics

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    “A confluence of factors has helped turn our election races into schoolyard tussles,” said Adam Radwanski in a Globe and Mail column. But he aimed his strongest criticism on the media, and especially online forms of media.

    “The anything-goes nature of online debate — on blogs and even on parties’ official websites — has spilled over into mainstream discourse much the way talk radio infected it south of the border. The media’s obsession with “war rooms” has left their occupants trying to outdo one another with gratuitous attacks. And the clutter of five parties competing in a 24-hour news cycle has left them making increasingly shrill noises in the hope of being heard.”

    I find myself agreeing with him — and thinking it’s a good argument for more, and more professional, journalism. But then, such criticism is like shooting ducks at an arcade.

    The Globe and Mail’s Jeffrey Simpson also aimed his guns at online media, in a Q&A session online. (Hat tip to Bill Doskoch) Simpson said of the Internet’s “nigh inexhaustible” demand for material, alongside the decent work “drivel abounds, bloggers proliferate, instant “analyses” are offered, and the time for reflection is reduced literally to zero.”
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Bias

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Clark Hoyt, the Public Editor of the New York Times, shares some thoughts about bias — real or imagined.

An excerpt:

“Throughout this election season, most of the thousands of messages I have received about Times news coverage have alleged bias — bias in headlines, photo selections, word choices, what the newspaper chooses to write about and what it ignores, what it puts on Page 1 and what it puts inside. Most of the complaints, but by no means all of them, have come from the right. Nobody acknowledges the possibility that, because of their own biases, they could be reading more, or less, than was intended into an article, a headline or a picture. Many go a step beyond alleging mere bias to accuse The Times of operating from a conscious agenda to help one candidate and destroy the other.”

Hoyt also notes: “There is an entire body of scholarship devoted to what social scientists call the “hostile media” syndrome.”  

Who knew?
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Globe adds audience participation to Election 2008 coverage

After my bemoaning the lack of features allowing direct participation, the Globe and Mail adds “Hotline to Harper” feature, giving the audience a voice to speak directly to the prime minister. Nice…

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Who will dare challenge the election results blackout?

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In an election campaign with Twittering, Blogging, and Facebook mainstreeting this instant information world is suddenly going dark tonight. Elections Canada and the Supreme Court of Canada seem to think most Canadians are content with learning about poll results the way we did in an era of cathode ray tubes and the wireless (radio).  Who Dares to challenge Elections Canada?
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Election Act gates set to fall

Election Act:

329. No person shall transmit the
result or purported result of the vote in an electoral district to the
public in another electoral district before the close of all of the
polling stations in that other electoral district.

In an election where strategic voting sits front and
centre, it seems like the Election Act gates are about to fall with a
resounding thud across the land today. Elections Canada has already softened the blow with changes to polling times, there are still gaps in the timing of poll closures.
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Feint praise?

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CBC and CTV made the unusual move of disassociating themselves from Peter Kent, former broadcast journalist and now a Conservative candidate in the Toronto area riding of Thornhill. Kent’s promo video (here, on youtube.com) includes praise by Peter Mansbridge of the CBC, Lloyd Robertson of CTV and former CTV journalist Pamela
Wallin.
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Slap down

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David Ljunggren of Reuters reports on covering the Canadian election amid surreal political perspectives of the economy, and an economic reporter’s attempts to get a handle on Conservative policy positions. The  piece is part reality-check, part critical analysis and part humour.
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The election and media reform

Back in February, media watcher Robert Hackett argued media reform
should be a top priority
in the impending (even back then) federal
election. Hackett saw a disturbing constellation forming: an industry push for
deregulation, a new market-friendly CRTC head, and a government bent on
pursuing a majority.

But between collapsing markets and pooping puffins,
only a few carried the flag for media reform. The Campaign for Democratic Media posted this
questionnaire
for candidates on their web site. While there may not be
enough time left to quiz your local hopefuls, the list doubles as a handy
point-form summary of the issues, from CBC funding to U.S. ownership. On a
national level, the Campaign received answers from all but one party. The results are
contained in this
report
. Amid mildly interesting responses, the silence of Harper’s
Conservatives perhaps speaks the loudest.  

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