Sunday, January 30, 2005

Journalism Today and Same Sex Marriage

I think this column in today’s Los Angeles captures much of what is wrong with contemporary journalism. It is about Iraq but it could be about anything. The excerpt I like follows: As thorough as The Times' reporting has been, it often reads as if written by acrobats in pain — skilled professionals twisting themselves and their copy into knots as they strain to "balance" what they are actually seeing with the sometimes fantasy-based spin of both Iraqi and U.S. officialdom….Somewhere along the line, American newspapers jumbled and polluted the concept of being objective. Objectivity, maybe better called truth-telling, should be the cherished goal of all reporters and editors.

Meanwhile back in Canada…

The Canadian news media’s coverage of the same sex debate I find quite irritating. It is quite obvious that the bill to be tabled this week will pass. The NDP and the Bloc, with 73 votes between them, will vote for it with one or two exceptions, offset on the other side by the Conservative caucus, again with a the handful of exceptions such as Belinda Stronach. The Liberals could have 30-35 defections and the vote would still pass easily, which is exactly what will happen. But in their endless pursuit of ersatz drama most media treat it as a close contest. Harper’s opposition is entirely about playing to his base, which would be furious with him if he did not put up a show of opposition.

There has not been much media play of this Environics poll, which indicates that public opinion supports the bill 54-43. It is split along age and regional lines with the greatest support for the legislation coming from Quebec and B.C. and the 18-29 age group and opposition from those over 60 and Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. This Ipsos-Reid poll suggests it would have little impact on a possible election, although I note that the Liberal move up to 41% here appears to be at the expense of the NDP who are at 13% in this survey. As I don't have a subscription to Reid I can't see the details but the lead question in the survey asks respondents if they want an election based on this issue (71% don't), and then it appears that they asked if there is one anyway, who will you vote for. Compared to this Leger poll from last spring, the Environics results suggest public opinion is moving towards support for same sex marriage.

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