A while back, I wrote a note on how a government can gain control of the Internet (by criminalizing the hyperlink). Here’s another way: By making new rules that discriminate against blogs, vs. other sources of news. That’ exactly what the Canadian province of Quebec proposes, according to Franklin Carter at the Book and Periodical Council’s Freedom of Expression Committee:
In Quebec, Culture Minister Christine St-Pierre is proposing to create “a new model of regulation of Quebec media.” Public consultations will be held across Quebec this fall.
She wishes to distinguish in law between “professional journalists” who are committed to “serving the public interest” and “amateur bloggers.” State-recognized professional journalists would enjoy unspecified “advantages or privileges” over other writers and reporters.
She has the support, of course, of the legacy media journalists who have enjoyed an incestuous relationship with government for years.
I mean those cozy boozefests with Top People where everyone knows there are Stories You Don’t Write, because those top people might not benefit. In the meantime, they’ll give you lots of face time for some pap like the “Celebrate Diversity in the Workplace” program.
What’s happening is obvious: Bloggers break up media rackets big time. Media rackets? Sure.
I’ve been to some of them and never went back. The food is great, but the price – silence – is too high. An insular place like Quebec both desperately needs bloggers – and is much more likely than most jurisdictions to just want to get rid of them. To keep the party going. To keep the legacy media as a government public relations unit – a unit for which the public actually pays, over and above taxes. In fact, one commenter on another thread here at Uncommon Descent proudly announced he’d pay for a newspaper but not for Internet news services like ours.
Commenter, Quebec Culture Minister Christine St-Pierre loves ya!
Yet it gets harder all the time to distinguish between the standards of blogs and those of supposedly legitimate news organizations. The New York Times is not ashamed to be proudly ignorant of the most basic facts about religion, for example. The facts a blogger might get right. The blogger might also get right some uncomplimentary stuff about Christine St-Pierre’s government – or her own Culture Ministry in that government, but … I digress.
And, not to worry, you will not read those facts in the Quebec papers that “serve the public interest.” Only in sources that pointedly don’t. The latter tell you useful information and let you decide if it’s in the public interest for you to know it.
From The National Post’s Graeme Hamilton:
The government says it does not want to prevent anyone from practicing journalism. But it would create a separate class of journalists, who in exchange for their new privileges would have to respect certain criteria, yet to be defined. The new status would not be awarded directly by the state but by organizations representing journalists.
The main such organization, the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec, supports the creation of a new status. But it wants criteria for obtaining the status to be set by journalists themselves.
In other words, by the organization. So the organization has power to partially silence people over whom it would otherwise have no power. That fact alone removes any doubt about the organization’s illegitimate relationship with Quebec’s government.
The Culture Minister’s proposals stem from a government-commissioned report published last winter, which provided a grim picture of the state of Quebec’s news media as new technologies emerge. Its author, Dominique Payette, another former Radio-Canada journalist, identified a media crisis “shaking all of the industrialized countries” and prescribed urgent government action “to ensure that the supply of information and the conditions of practicing professional journalism do not deteriorate further.”
In other words, the government-backed media are being whacked upside the breadbasket because they’re not talking about what people really care about and are patronizing or insulting readers when they complain.
Approved media noise: Drunken sports jock says something crude. Shocka!! Who would have expected …
Real news noise: New policing rules give crack dealers better access to school grounds.
And, now, under the proposed Quebec legislation, real news – the blogger writing from her study, where she can actually see the dealers in the shadows – will be second class. Then third class. Before too long, Christine’s Utopia will not tolerate real news at all.
File under: That’s the trouble with living in a peaceful country. Never a riot around when you need one. It is deeply consoling to realize that if her office were besieged, Christine’s Rules wouldn’t permit coverage. 😉
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