Re: Creating Alternative Media in Canada
by C. L. Cook - Pacific Free Press
February 12, 2017
As a (small m) media producer in radio, television, print, and print online these last nearly twenty years, I can say the prospect of success in the endeavour of creating a viable alternative media in Canada, as described,1 is depressingly low.
I blame freedom first, or at least freely accessible information and the prevailing sense of entitlement among those on the alt. left holding the opinion they deserve to get their "real" news without paying for it.
White Phosphorus bombs fall on Gaza UN school compound during
2006 Operation Summer Rains 2008 successor, Operation Cast Lead
How many of those readers care I wonder about the thousands of hours others spend writing, or aggregating, formatting, and publishing articles; not to mention the costs of hosting sites and the social risks of becoming associated with the "wrong kinds" of stories?
It's been almost ten years now since my own association with the Peace, Earth, and Justice, (then PEJ.org) news site ended. Some of the gray beards among whoever is left listening may recall what transpired at PEJ. Fewer yet may remember how what happened to us happened when we dared criticise Israel its murderous 2006 bombing of Lebanon and Gaza - the first in a series of practically ritual bi-annual outrages of a kind as it was to turn out.
PEJ News still exists, though most of the principals involved back then have since departed. In 2007, B'nai Brith lodged a complaint with the BC Human Rights Commission claiming PEJ's criticism of Israel's crimes against humanity and other serial breaches of international law, as witnessed during its 2006 military campaign against Lebanon and concurrent indiscriminate2 bombardment of Palestinian civilians was meant to "contrive to promote ongoing hatred affecting persons identifiable as Jews and/or as citizens of Israel."
Victoria's own Sid Tafler penned an account for the Globe and Mail at the time. Had Tafler followed up, (if he indeed did so, I couldn't find a link to any article attesting the fact) he could have reported on B'nai Brith's no show at the hearing and subsequent tossing out of the case. But that didn't really matter, because the monkey wrench was already thrown into the PEJ gears. The pressure of possible legal action and all that entailed effectively fractured Peace Earth and Justice.
In that instance, Big M media and an institutional misuse of the law coordinated to accomplish a political end through fear and intimidation; the powerful triumphing again over the timorous. It was a shameful affront to the principles of democracy, but more so a disheartening lesson in the thumb-length depth of dedication afforded to those hallowed principles so many profess to defend.
When the moment to stand came, we found ourselves in the classic comic stance of peering over-shoulder for supporters and seeing not cavalry but background. Most knew we weren't anti-Semitic, and some even rallied to defend us, but in large part PEJ was left to twist in the wind both before and after the B'nai Brith/BCHRC contretemps.
The fact the PEJ publishing Prometheus Institute had no money in the first place, and was by necessity run by a handful of dedicated volunteers who, when faced with as spurious a charge as we were then could do little more than fold into a position of fetal submissiveness is the essence of the tale: I'm afraid, there was no there there then, and there still ain't.
I'm pretty sure media is important, even if the Globe and Mail is somewhat less so now than ten years ago. I'm fairly confident too, most politically-minded Canadians recognize that fact; but I'm not convinced they care enough about either it, or the overall well-being of the country's democratic institutions. Certainly not when they, the political class, is doing OK.
As for the other, (not yet 99%) of Canadians: Where are they when the independent media hat is passed around? Look behind and all you'll see is space, and all to be heard is the thunder of the crickets.
1 In response to a letter regarding the parameters of an alternative, public interest media to offset the deficiencies of the extant corporate and state media in Canada.
2 "Indiscriminate" is used here in the sense of its strictly legal derivation as defined by Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions, which states: "Articles 51 and 54 outlaw indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations, and destruction of food, water, and other materials needed for survival. Indiscriminate attacks include directly attacking civilian (non-military) targets, but also using technology such as biological weapons, nuclear weapons and land mines, whose scope of destruction cannot be limited."