Do other parties really get a fighting chance??

I spoke at some length with a supporting member of the NDP party a few nights ago. I am personally notorious for “dodging the bullet” of candidates knocking on my door. In fact, I practically ran from Mr. Carr (of the Conservative party) just yesterday as he made his rounds.

Then Sandy Graham walked into my workplace — just for a moment, for no purpose than to come into our store and we got locked into a conversation. Sandy Graham is the brother of candidate Andrew Graham in our area, and I have to say, a fantastic person.

Until I spoke to Mr. Graham, I was completely undecided who to vote for, I had no idea… it seemed to me that in this election it was a matter of choose the lesser of evils and honestly I was most likely to go to the polls voting Liberal. The reason? Unfortunately due to media it often seems that these are our only choices, in my opinion. In past elections also they were briefly mentioned, other parties never seemed an option to me, it was Liberal or Conservative, and that was it.

This is the first time I have spoken to anyone that actually LISTENED and took part in a conversation without forcing to me their views without listening to mine, not only that but a co-worker who is not even yet the age of majority, was absolutely over the moon that he spent at least a half an hour discussing politics with her. After she left she was ecstatic… “He actually LISTENED to what I had to say!” And he did.

He left me his email address to contact he and his brother, and after going home and doing some political research on EVERY party available, I emailed the Grahams requesting a piece that they were attempting to get published in the Telegraph Journal before the election date. Honestly, I have no idea if it was published or not, but it deserves it, so it is to be posted here. I will have to check up on it and see if it was, I certainly hope so.

We have since exchanged several emails — one including permission to post this piece on the blog. Andrew Graham actually remembered our family from last year, a brief encounter, I have to say that is simply amazing considering the number of people he is sure to come into contact with on a daily basis. That or we leave a mark on people, which is quite possible because well, Mr. William Rhodes does tend to capture a bit of attention, I must say.

Anyhow, back to the point — here is the piece by Sandy Graham. After careful consideration and review of the political standpoints of each party (not just because I enjoyed our conversation.) I am proud to say– Mr. Andrew Graham, you got my vote this morning. The best of luck to you!

On to the previously promised piece by Sandy Graham:

Something Is Rotten

As Shakespeare once wrote, “something is rotten in the state of Denmark”; but I speak actually of New Brunswick, and specifically, of the Telegraph-Journal. Arguably the provincial newspaper; by extension this means that, rightly or wrongly, it is also an arbiter of what is considered news, or at least newsworthy, in this fine province. Such a responsibility is not, I know, worn lightly by professional journalists. One has only to witness some of the dreck that passes for journalism in the States in recent months to see what is not professional.

In 1996 the Telegraph-Journal won the Canadian Journalism Foundation’s Excellence in Journalism Award “the only national award given to a journalistic organization for overall extraordinary performance” and which “embraces ideals of democratic citizenship, rigorous professional practice, honesty, accuracy, independence, public accountability and initiative as well as artistry, clarity of style and high quality of presentation.” High praise, and well deserved, especially considering that the Telegraph-Journal has won fourteen National Newspaper Awards and many regional awards in the past fifteen years.

Indeed, the Canadian Journalism Foundation, which exists “solely to contribute to the achievement of excellence in Canadian journalism”, points out that “better journalism means a better-informed citizenry and an improved democratic process.” I couldn’t have said it better myself; for this is where my quandary resides and, given the (deserved) reputation and honours of this newspaper, exasperatingly so.

We find ourselves again in an election, and whether voting in elections – or even having them – is a right or a privilege, is a debate for another time. But I do believe that elections, and those involved in them, from the candidates and parties through to the voters and of course the media, are a test of democracy, of our “democratic process”. And I believe in this regard that the Telegraph-Journal has fallen short of the mark in its responsibilities to the people of New Brunswick Southwest, and indeed to itself, towards the cultivation of a “better-informed citizenry”.

The Thursday, October 9th edition carried on its front page the story “Diversity presents a challenge in Southwest” (the riding of New Brunswick Southwest). This as part of the “Federal Election: Exploring the provincial ridings” series. Out of a total of 1260 words, 562 are used to profile Conservative candidate Greg Thompson, and 640 for Liberal candidate Nancy MacIntosh.

In the last paragraph, containing a grand total of 55 words, the article concludes that voters “also have the choice to vote for Andrew Graham, New Democrat and woodworker from Saint John . . . or Robert Boucher, the Green Party candidate, an IT security specialist for Bell Aliant from Harvey. The question, which surely goes begging here, is “What is wrong with this math, with this picture”. For that matter, the accompanying photograph shows only the Liberal and Conservative candidates.

How can a newspaper of such distinction make such a mistake? Indeed, how can this be published under the banner “Exploring the provincial ridings”? The paucity of exposition of any kind or degree regarding Andrew Graham or Robert Boucher is startling in contrast to the candidates of the Liberal and Conservative parties. Am I the only one who is left wondering how a paper which aspires to – and has achieved – some of the highest accolades in journalism, could so carelessly – some would say brazenly – lapse in its judgement and standards?

I am no journalist, and I have a deep respect for anyone who can keep a newspaper running, and profitable, in this age; whilst maintaining the kind of quality for which the Telegraph-Journal is rightly respected and known. As I alluded to earlier, my rationale includes the “public interest”. With whatever humility and naivety I can summon, though; I would suggest that there exists also the case for building and sustaining a provincial and regional readership; all this while deferring, at least to some degree, to those who actually make a living running a newspaper.

But a seemingly flagrant contrast of coverage to this degree would, to surely even the most objective of newsreaders, smack of bias. I would like, if it exists, to know of some other way to “square this circle”. That is to say, how can a newspaper that deservedly prides itself on professional journalism, and by dint of which possesses intelligence and integrity, publish such a blatantly unfair article?

It is perhaps worth adding that since September 21st four press releases have been sent to the Telegraph-Journal. It is not so much that none of them saw print, but to illustrate that views by Mr. Graham on various political issues could not be described as elusive (and all of which can be found on his website at http://www.nbsouthwestndp.com.)

I too want an “informed citizenry” and an “improved democratic process”, because I love this country; and it is in part these qualities that have helped to bring about the kind of society Canadians treasure. A society which, at its best, combines a plurality of views, and a spirit of accommodation which at least entertains those differences; which not only accepts and tolerates dissent, but encourages it, as part of dialectic which, win or lose, enriches us all. And am I not also addressing here some of the higher tenets of journalism?

Lastly, I hope that I may, in this protest, in this appeal for answers to my questions and frustration, be forgiven for betraying a bias of my own. Perhaps this confession had to come sooner or later. I am an unrepentant romantic, and idealist, and so is my brother, Andrew Graham.


Sandy Graham can be reached here sandygraham@netscape.net


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About Bolshy

Blogging in the ether to see if that elusive literary agent or publisher wants some new talent.
This entry was posted in Bias, Comment, Conservatives, Liberal, Media, NDP, New Democrat Party, Politics, Rant!, WTF! Moment. Bookmark the permalink.

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