Sunday, 11 November 2018

A red poppy, for the blood price of freedom.

A red poppy, for the blood price of freedom.

Folks like us, often immigrants who came to mine coal in Canada, fought and died to build a country where freedom prevails. They wanted a place where their families would be able to live healthily, get educated, tell the government how they wish to be treated and do what they considered to be the right thing. They wanted freedom of religion, equal opportunity, respect for humans, regardless of their origins.

A country like Canada is today would not have been possible without the contributions of a free and skillful, ethical press. I want to join forces with the Editor of this paper. No-one should be surprised. Opinions vary, but there is a thing we call, right and wrong. We are proudly Canadians, and we have a predetermined way of dealing with a difference of opinion, and the rest of the world looks up to us for that reason.

Canadians do not attack media staff’s kids for the parent's opinions. If the kids are adults and chose a political stream similar to the parents, it is fair game. If they are minors, they have no responsibility for their parent's actions or lack of it.  We also don’t call the media the “enemy of the people,” and we don’t kill journalists and cut them up.

A newspaper or any other media outlet traditionally presented all available opinions, regardless of the Editor’s affiliations. Theirs is the responsibility to investigate and report what they see and hear. Reporters should have the freedom to cover what is important for the community they serve, not the political opinions of owners and advertisers. Reporting community events is vital for a newspaper survival but shutting down debate is immoral and dangerous for any community or country. Our Democracy is built around freedom of the press. The people buy papers that are honest, and a large circulation guarantees a good advertising platform.

A true reporter is trained to report verifiable information accurately and not exclude critical views opposing the mainstream. If a newspaper keeps reporters busy with things that are not news so they will not be able to do the job they were trained to do, it is not a newspaper; it is a political propaganda leaflet. Unfortunately, many of our big media outlets have been bought and succumbed to pressure to sway public opinion in the direction of money. That is why I prefer little local papers ahead of the big, one point of view, news organizations.

The news people who used to be the voice of the people are now the voice of the advertisers. At one time a newspaper was financed by the people who purchased the publication. It is no longer the case. Now very little, if any, income comes from the distribution, and most money comes from advertisers who support publications that they “agree” with. Since most businesses who have big advertising budgets are in favor of making more money, most mass media express the views of those who are most affluent in their areas. The readers notice the problem and the Newspapers are closing shop.

If you go out today, you will see most people still wearing poppies on their lapels. They do this to remember those of our ancestors who died in the fight against Fascism, a form of far-right politics that exercise control over oppositions by force. The movement appeals to people by being against minorities or using their version of religion, and ties into it promises of improving economics, often for those already wealthy. If prewar Germany and Italy had free journalism, we would not have been wearing poppies today.

The press is the watchdog which keeps the government’s feet to the fire. Generally, good people want to live peaceful lives and are willing to make some sacrifices to maintain it.  They trust that their journalists will do the investigations and call upon them if things get out of hand.

Good journalists do a lot of hard work that the readers don’t even see. They check facts, get various views, and even calculate. I remember the recent elections in Ontario when the media figured out how much Doug Ford would need in order to fulfill his promises and how much he will lose if he truly reduces taxes, mostly for the wealthy. They did the same on the Liberals. A good news reporter is not easy to find, and serious readers get to know them for their integrity.

Good editors are also a rare commodity in this generation. I was so proud when the editor of this paper, when entering local politics, publicly announced that the editing would be done by our trustworthy reporter. That was the time that I decided to write a column. She learned journalistic ethics from a true journalist who belonged to the old school. I knew the guy from the time before I moved here and when I spotted his green SUV with the “press” sign, I used to look for him and have a chat.

Canada grew up right beside the USA like a brother and sister growing in the same home. Just about everything was the same, but big brother is so different from little sister. Big brother was all for the money and all for the show, while Canada turned out more feminist in nature. Here there is more concern for every member of the family, and we hesitate to hurt or take advantage of others, just because it's not right.

The red Poppies remind us of the saying, “Lest we forget,” but what do we not want to forget? We fought against the same enemies, but we wanted different kinds of freedom. Ours is the freedom to be nice and care for each other, while theirs is the freedom to use strength against those who can’t or will not defend themselves. I chose our kind of freedom, and I am not sorry.  Of course, these are general comments not applicable to many individuals on both sides.

Here is a link to my blog:  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

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