Few things are as boring as the media writing about the media.
But unless you’ve been in a coma in the past couple weeks, that’s pretty much all you’ve been getting.
There’s the British phonehacking scandal which has toppled the News of the World and various luminaries within the Brit media-political establishment.
That story may very well signal the end of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
On this side of the pond, there have been nearly 200— 200! — stories and columns written about Sun Media’s determination to withdraw from the Ontario Press Council.
Many teeth have been gnashed, and many garments rent, over the Sun’s decision.
A goodly number of the disapproving comments, naturally, have come from the Sun’s competitors.
Forgive me, dear reader, for being boring. But the piety has reached heretofore historic levels, and I can contain myself no longer.
Here, then, are Kinsella’s Three Common Sense Observations about news media sins. Clip and save.
Press councils and media ombudspersons are pretty useless
If you have a serious beef about something that has been said about you, you have recourse: The civil law.
Press councils and ombudsmen, meanwhile, are inherently conflicted, as they get paid and/or are controlled by the very media organizations they are supposed to police.
An example: A few years back, I took now-deceased B.C. columnist (and Holocaust denier) Doug Collins to the B.C. Press Council for a series of errors and abuses.
Throughout the process, I was left with the clear impression the B.C. body’s principal interest was in running my complaint into the boards.
Their insistence complainants give up their legal remedies in advance, in writing, suggested they were instruments to shield big media organizations from lawsuits.
The media is a special interest group
Politicians and Joe and Jane Frontporch know this already, but it amazes me how often some media bigwigs still don’t.
The media, to most of us, are simply big companies owned by other big companies.
Like all big companies, they have biases aplenty.
So, when I penned a media column for the National Post, I was told I was not permitted to write anything positive about the CBC or the Toronto Star.
If I even quoted someone saying something remotely positive, it would end up on the Post’s newsroom floor.
(At the Sun, in case you are wondering, I have never been, (a) told what to write, or, (b) censored in any way —despite the fact that, as the resident Bolshevik, I periodically drive Brian Lilley, Mark Bonokoski and John Snobelen bonkers. Which upsets me a great deal, as you can imagine).
The media needs to take a pill
As in, take themselves way less seriously (as at the Sun, frankly). The technological revolution and the concurrent social media explosion has dramatically changed the rules of the game. Citizen media are now as important as the mainstream media.
To survive, the media companies need to be a lot more populist and a lot less po-faced. Nobody regards big media organizations as benign, impartial bodies anymore (if they ever did).
They’re just one of many voices competing for space on the public agenda. That’s it.
There are more observations that could be made, but I want to avoid the greatest media sin of all.
Which is, you know, being boring.