Journalism

June 9, 2013

For Paul Russell, Editor, National Post

Dear Paul, During my posting in Detroit I took two courses at Wayne State U.: “Advanced News Writing I” and “Advanced News Writing II” which gave me some insight into the puzzle of why the media are so consistently mistaken and uninformed. The courses concentrated on the presentation (“make it interesting with a gripping opening sentence”) and said litttle about sticking to the facts or ethical dilemmas. The courses mentioned the who, how, when, where, why etc thing but emphasized speed and ignored the problem of reporters, and editors, writing urgently on subjects of which they had little or no grasp. The renowned Carleton School of Journalism is not much better – concentrating on how to please the editor or publisher and Politically-Correct self-censorship rather than objective, balanced reportage of the facts, as far as I can determine from chats with students enrolled there. Probably you know more about the phenomena than I do. I hope so! All the best, Ian

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HP – as you may recall, I was Consul and Trade Commissioner in Detroit in the mid-’sixties when the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing. The Rev. Martin Lucifer King came to address a large, joyous audience (I was there) announcing the birth of a whole new era of genuine emancipation and equality, which he claimed to have foreseen in a dream. External Affairs was entranced with the developments and asked each Consulate in the U.S. to report on the Civil Rights Movement in its jurisdiction so the liberals in the Department could bask in the reflected glory. Apparently all the other Consulates sent the expected rosy, politically-correct description of the bright future awaiting African-Americans, which was what the Minister needed to rationalise his enthusiasm.

I decided not to play the game and sent an 8 page analysis of the situation in Michigan and Ohio based on reality, which said in effect that the promised equality was an impossibly ludicrous pipe-dream because of anthropological and cultural constraints, and that the hypocritical politicians and MLK were perpetrating a cruel hoax. Events, of course, proved me right, but I heard through the grape-vine shortly thereafter that my report had caused consternation, if not panic, in External – not because it was embarrassingly and truthfully candid, but because of the possibility it could fall into the hands of the media who would immediately charge the bureaucrats with harbouring if not fostering “racism”. (I gave Warren Kinsella a copy years ago when he presented himself as an honest journalist (oxymoron?) and he used it against me recently when I sued him and the CBC for defamation, obviously believing that even now it would discredit me!)

The Aid for Dependant Children (ADC) was introduced while I was in Detroit: $500.00 monthly for each pregnant black and $100.00 more for each additional child (up to six). For an unemployable Black teenager the money was irresistible, bringing both comfort and prestige, and the response easily predictable by anyone with a measurable IQ. It seemed to me that the money would have been better spent on contraceptives or sterilization, but making the suggestion would risk being dismissed as a “racist”, or worse, and anyway, it was not really my responsibility! IV (Paul – HP is ex-RCAF and a former Foreign Service colleague).

The comments above refer to an illustrated posting on the decline of Detroit dated June 6, 2013 by Frosty Woodridge http://www.frostywoodridge.com/

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