What do you think the local media’s role is in a community? Do you believe it is to serve as a vehicle to get reams of advertising to your door all in the name of commerce or is it to actually report on local issues that affect the community without being simply a PR machine for local and national politicians?
Do you believe that journalism standards should expect local media ask comprehensive questions, raise doubts or concerns, have any historical knowledge of an issue and include it back in the reporting? Should comprehensive information and background affect how an issue is reported?
These are the questions and concerns being voiced by so many in our community when once again local media has covered news and issues in Halton especially when it comes to our local education in what many are stating is a biased and incompetent manner. To suggest comprehensive coverage is lacking especially when it comes to education would be laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that it affected our children and was paid for by our taxes.
Many thorny issues have arisen over the last 10-20 years in Halton as we see our community schools given away to optional programming, segregated modelling encouraged, and programs such as the Primary Gifted Program outrage the province. Our delivery methods had even sparked outraged at a national level. We are not the envy of our country as our trustees and board would suggest but rather a method used as a yardstick on how not to deliver education. If you want a method that segregates and tears communities apart model it after Halton. If that kind of approach is not what you are looking for…then stay clear of how we do it here.
So many are now asking – why did our local media report that 350 children still wait for assessment testing to ensure basic education is delivered to them with their needs taken into account in a tone that suggested we all celebrate?
How did our local media not notice that the numbers did not match from the spring when the board itself noted the numbers? Did the media not bother to notice that approximately 100 children seemed to drop off the planet requiring no testing service from the Halton District School Board. Did our local media not question that maybe these vulnerable souls were not serviced for years and now go on to high school where the board does not have to provide testing thus the numbers go down. Is it simply a numbers game to our local media?
Our local media noted very briefly that some of the backlog was serviced after ‘public outcry’…oh yes…for the many who spent months if not years attending meetings, emailing, writing, phoning etc. to ensure kids they did not even know got some help – you will be happy to know approximately 2 words were noted in a recent article for all your efforts.
Having what many say are the highest numbers of kids left on wait lists for years, we now have a love fest with our local school board as if they parted water like God for doing what they should have done years ago….start clearing up the backlog of kids who are failed miserably by this system. How do we celebrate that 350 still remain with more added constantly. Would our local media care if it was their kids left for years to never catch up!
Attending board meetings, many including local media are subjected to trustees having love fests with each other publicly on what a great job they have done serving our children and families. These public displays of ‘patting each other on the back’ seem to increase as public scrutiny increases.
As I have told even my own kids ‘Because you say it doesn’t make it so’. Many are now guessing that local media has forgot that – that they have put their journalist ethics on ‘park’ in the local outdoor lot and have allowed themselves to be used as a PR machine for failed policy and actions by those who were elected to do better.
Has our local media not noticed that they always seem to get quotes from specific trustees when it comes to touting their horn on what a great job they are doing servicing our children. For example, this latest article once again quotes the Ward 4 trustee Kathryn Bateman Olstead. How available the Ward 4 trustee seems to be to the local media when good news is being reported on.
Now to suggest that the Ward 4 trustee is the only one ever quoted in local media would not be correct. Other trustees who often sit on the board with their eyes looking like a ‘deer in the headlight’ as they vote on important issues that affect the most vulnerable have been quoted when ‘joy’ is being spread. Isn’t it amazing when quotes don’t appear defending decisions from these same trustees. How many residents have complained that they cannot get a response from their local trustee when they question anything!
Local media seems to many to have simply parked their journalist skills, requirements and ethics at the back door as they make their money on ads and PR reporting for the politicians that use them to promote their own agenda.
Is this new brand of PR journalism affecting only one publication. Absolutely not! It seems to be widespread but our community members are openly critical of some of the more major publications stating they expect better.
For those who stated print media was on its last legs and dying….maybe they were right….maybe it will end up being Internet reporting that actually asks the hard questions and actually gets a response.
From one journalist to another, from one resident and taxpayer to another…I think our community deserves better!
Let us know what you think.