Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How I read the news has changed.

Originally, I was going to write "How we read the news has changed." That would be presumptuous. I have no idea how you read the news. I only know that I no longer read in a purely linear manner, restricted to the article immediately at hand. I surf a wave of questions raised and links provided, as I find own personal way through the maze that is is news.

Let's not get too academic here. Instead, let me show you how I read one story this morning.

I clicked my bookmark for Digital Journal. The fourth story was, "Hackers retaliate in support of WikiLeaks founder."

This article peaked my interest in the WikiLeaks story. I wanted to know more, so I returned to my iGoogle homepage which is filled with news windows, and I had spotted a story in the Top Stories window. I cannot link to this as my iGoogle page is constantly being updated. The story I found was from The Telegraph in the U.K., WikiLeaks' 10 greatest stories.

I read the first story: Iraq Apache helicopter attack. The following is from that story.
"Horrifying video footage showing 15 people including two Reuters journalists being shot dead by a US Army Apache helicopter gunman, taken from the helicopter's gun camera, appalled the world when it was released on WikiLeaks.
The crew were heard laughing at the "dead b-----ds" and saying "light 'em up!" and "keep shooting, keep shooting"

The US military refused to discipline the helicopter's crew, saying, "At the time we weren't able to discern whether (Reuters employees) were carrying cameras or weapons."

The brother of one of the dead Reuters journalists was skeptical: "My question is how could those highly skilled American pilots with all their hi-tech information not distinguish between a camera and a rocket launcher."

Two journalists killed. Having worked for The London Free Press in London, Ontario, a paper in the Sun Media chain, which is part of Quebecor Media, I wondered how my old paper tackled the story. I went to The London Free Press site, I have it bookmarked, and searched "two Reuters journalists".

This brought up the following screen:

The third story listed, Punishing WikiLeaker misses point by columnist Eric Margolis, examined the killing of the jounalists. I clicked the link. I read:

"George Orwell wrote: 'If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.'

A true journalist's job is to expose government wrongdoing and propaganda, skewer hypocrites, and speak for those with no voice. And wage war against mankind's two worst scourges: Nationalism and religious bigotry. Not to lick the boots of government.

I've always felt kinship for free thinkers, rebels, and heretics.

That's why I am drawn to the plight of Pte. Bradley Manning who apparently believed Ernest Hemingway's dictum: 'Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.'

The 22-year-old U.S. Army intelligence analyst caused a worldwide furor by releasing to WikiLeaks secret military logs that exposed ugly truths about the brutal conflict in Afghanistan, including widespread killing of civilians.

To again quote Orwell: 'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.'

Manning also released a suppressed tape of a U.S. Army helicopter gunship killing two Reuters journalists and a civilian.

A civilian hacker, employed by some shadowy U.S. government intelligence 'contractor' spying on the Internet turned Manning in.

Revenge was swift.

Manning was thrown into solitary confinement and faces a long prison term.

. . . WikiGate provoked a flood of bombastic pro-war propaganda from America's mainstream media, its rent-a-journalists, and Canada's wannabe Republican neocons.

. . . When I served in the U.S. Army, we were taught it was our duty to report up the chain of command all violations of the Geneva Conventions and war crimes. These included killing civilians, torture and executions.

Manning reportedly sought to report to his superiors just such crimes committed in Afghanistan by some U.S. forces and their local allies and mercenaries.

He was ignored. Just as was the courageous Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin when he warned Ottawa that prisoners were being handed over to the brutal Afghan secret police for torture and execution.

Manning's motivations for whistleblowing matter not. What does matter is he revealed to the public the brutal nature of the colonial war in Afghanistan and the bodyguard of lies protecting it from public scrutiny.

If Americans and Canadians really knew the truth of this resource-driven war, and its carefully concealed cost, they would end it quickly.
--- --- ---
After 27 years, this is my last column for QMI Agency. I am grateful to QMI for allowing me to freely express my views even when it disagreed with them. My Sunday column continues on ericmargolis.com and at the Huffington Post, LewRockwell.com and newspapers abroad.

Follow ericmargolis on Twitter."
What a surprise! This was the last story moved by Margolis to Sun Media. Margolis was not like most of the other Sun Media columnists. He was not right wing. A Free Press reporter once told me that he made a point of seeking out and reading the Margolis column. Its presence in the paper made him hopeful that some semblance of balance might survive in the pages of the Freeps as the newspaper moved into a tight Sun Media orbit. Now, Margolis was gone.

I wondered what was being said on the Web about the Margolis departure from Sun Media after 27 years. I googled "why did eric margolis leave sun media."

I clicked on the Sun Family link. I read:

"Eric Margolis out

Veteran Sun op-ed columnist Eric Margolis is another casualty of Sun Media's shift to the far right, with little regard for longevity or popularity.

'I wrote for the Sun chain for 27 years because it allowed me total freedom of expression even when the editors disagreed with my opinions - something very rare in the media,' Margolis told Toronto Sun Family in an e-mail today.

'This policy has changed. My views are displeasing to Ottawa," he says. "Accordingly, the Sun and I are parting company.'

We'll miss his unique analysis of world politics. We also mourn the loss of op-ed diversity.

. . . Eric says, there was a time during the glory years of the Toronto Sun when opposing views were welcomed by management and appreciated by readers.

Quebecor's newly-planted henchmen are putting an end to that editorial freedom.

It's eyes right these days as Sun Media turns into a haven for former PMO staffers intent on morphing the chain's print and broadcast image into Fox North. . . . "
I went back to my Google search and clicked the antiwar.com link. It was two down from the previous link. I found the following story: Sun Newspapers Fire Eric Margolis After Receiving Canadian Govt Grants.

The story claimed that antiwar columnist Eric Margolis was fired in a shake-up at Sun Newspapers in an unlikely coincidence: "It was recently revealed that Sun Newspapers is now receiving Canadian government money," the story said.

Following the story brought me back to the Toronto Sun Family website and a story about the Feds funding some Sun Media papers. I learned that the following amounts went to the following papers.

• $57,291 to the Goderich Signal-Star
• $40,673 to the Shoreline Beacon
• $32,246 to the Kincardine News
• $28,518 to the Clinton News Record
• $23,190 to the Huron Expositor
• $21,325 to the Lucknow Sentinel

Before leaving this post, let me leave you with the thoughts and the questions that immediately come to mind, at least mine.

Sun Media has been attacking the CBC recently. In turn, Sun Media itself  has been attacked by others in the media who are "convinced this is all about advancing the economic interests of Quebecor president Pierre Karl Peladeau." I read the quoted part on Canoe. Which also makes the claim that Quebecor is "not subsidized by taxpayers."

Well, we now know that isn't the whole story, don't we. Forgive me while I google.

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