I've spent recent days on an island north of Huntsville pondering the death from cancer, at 71, of the Irish-American left-wing journalist Alexander Cockburn. He's often paired with Christopher Hitchens, whose death last December got far more media attention, surely because Hitchens made a well-trod journey to the right in the final phase of his career. Cockburn never did.
Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011, Montrealers marched through downtown calling for peace and democracy in Syria. Organized by the Collective for Syria in Montreal, many gathered at Norman Bethune Square to call attention to the human rights abuses and atrocities being committed on non-violent protesters in the Middle Eastern nation.
Journalists for Human Rights (jhr) was there to bring local media attention to this Arab Spring uprising, which is continuing despite state repression. A jhr-CUTV collaboration.
Ottawa Deputy Bureau Chief Dean Beeby of the Canadian Press discusses the weakening of freedom of information policy. Beeby offers journalists and activists some advice: "Don't file one request, file 20 requests because it's going to take that many to get a story. Myself, I'm experienced in using it. I have to probably file ten requests to get a story. That's how the system has broken down.... Be a pitbull about it! Insist on your rights. Don't give up because that's exactly what a government wants. They want you to give up and go away. So, perseverance counts a lot."
Getting media access to the G8 and G20 summits seemed simple: just upload a letter of assignment, a mugshot, and a scanned passport on an online form. In fact, it was easy, it just turned out not to mean much.
A United States military video was released this week showing the indiscriminate targeting and killing of civilians in Baghdad. The nonprofit news organization WikiLeaks obtained the video and made it available on the Internet. The video was made July 12, 2007, by a U.S. military Apache helicopter gunship, and includes audio of military radio transmissions.
And, we're a craft that thrives on control. We constrain the size, tone, timing and content of the news. In fact, we decide if it even is news. We are to news what the Spanish Inquisition was to sin.
In an age of scarcity of presses, of airways and of broadcast licenses, that model was serviceable and comfortable -- a conceptual famous blue raincoat.
We thrived on that scarcity, that control, that secrecy and that one-way pipeline to our audience.