I don’t watch TV news. I don’t believe what I see anymore

Newsfirst Multimedia political columnist Robert Vairo.

I loved my career. In fact, I tell people that when I die, if I’m allowed to return, I want to repeat what I have done so far on this earth, with a few extras added.

That’s how much I enjoyed the entire process of journalism; researching, digging, and contacting sources for the right information and then delivering it to my radio and TV news audience. It was my passion. They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. That is very true. I had a few side hustles to supplement my income, because one did not become a broadcast journalist for the salary, regardless of the employer. But going to the studio every day was so enjoyable. Serving the listener and viewer was a privilege, and I got a pay cheque for it. It’s hard to beat such a life. Throughout my decades in radio and TV, I cannot remember a day I did not enjoy. As a talk show host and reporter, I was often on the road, negotiating for interviews from those reluctant to share information. However, I knew my listeners or viewers wanted to hear these accounts, I was determined to provide them with a factually correct story. Like many of you, I often worked long hours, sacrificed meals and social gatherings, because I was on a mission of sorts. As author Rolf Dobelli writes “trying to make the world a little better, and hold those in power to account.” I loved it so much I became an instructor at Concordia’s Communications department. I even started a broadcast school for primarily young English broadcast talent, The Montreal Radio and Television School. It was a hands-on approach where media personalities and I passed on knowledge and experience to those now successful in the industry. And I want to do it again, in the next life. But I don’t think it’ll be the same.

Today, it’s a very different story. I don’t watch TV news nor listen to radio news, except for the occasional traffic report. There are a lot of reasons for this. I often hear “it’s so depressing.” Dobelli writes all this news of crisis “destroys our peace of mind.”

There is also government financing and grants to media. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been afforded before and after the last three elections and during Covid. Says Journalism historian Marc Edge, “… it may have saved or created a few media jobs, but at the cost of credibility. Many Canadians now think the press has been bought off by the Liberals.”  Liberal grants went to every publication from McLeans, CBC, CTV and even Ming Pao Newspapers, which “attempts to accommodate Chinese Communist Party sensibilities”- Canadaland Podcast Network.

Newsroom editors choose the stories and often the viewpoint they want their reporters to take. You’ve no doubt heard of the CBC reporter questioned by opposition leader Pierre Poilievre as to who specifically he was referring to in his question. The reporter replied, he didn’t know. He said he was given the questions by his supervisor.

Those who make mainstream media their only venue of information are subjected to an editor’s selection and omission of stories. Journalism observers will say CTV, CBC, Global, Fox News, and CNN all have a dance card, an agenda. Impartiality is rare.

The politician plays the media

Politicians hold news conferences or allow scrums (where reporters gather around with cameras and microphones), only because regardless of what the reporter asks, it is an opportunity for them to deliver their message. Playing the media has become a favourite past time of not all but many elected. Their message is what they want you to believe, not what you should really know about them or their situation. Often, they mislead. Some reporters will follow up with more direct questions but the slick politician will seldom answer, much less deliver the naked truth.

Artificial intelligence

With the introduction of AI (artificial intelligence) especially, visuals are often not what they seem. Photos and video can be fabricated or taken from an entirely different and unrelated setting. Reports are not always produced by humans. AI has done that. Do you remember when news reports were written in the third person, making the author a dispassionate narrator? This is no more. Writers often include opinions, or intentionally omit facts in what should be an unbiased, balanced, and fair report. It seems the industry no longer has anything to do with real journalism.

Fake demonstrators

Do you really believe those demonstrators are sincere, out there because of their political convictions? That they are protesting, wreaking havoc, blocking entrances, destroying property and disrupting events because they believe in a cause? Of course not.

I invite you to visit www.indeed.com/career/ demonstrator/salaries, a web site that advertises for demonstrators, and includes hourly rates. Want a job?

In Canada, the Plenty Collective, a self-described “mutual aid group”, have paid demonstrators for “liberation of Palestine” manifestations and others. There may be, but I have been unable to find funding for pro Israeli protests. A city councillor for the Victoria, BC area, Ian Ward, wrote in a social media post that “paid ‘protestors’ are promoting antisemitism & call for violent intifada.”

Are you disgusted yet? I am.

Former colleague Wendy Mesley, fired by the CBC for the most woke and frankly stupid reason, suggests switching to blogs and podcasts. She writes in a recent article in the Globe and Mail, “TV is the last place I go for news. I devour The New York Times, the Guardian, Al Jazeera and The Globe. I spend hours reading blogs, newsletters and sites I’ve found online.” I fully agree. I would add newspapers, publications and blogs to the right of the political pendulum to complete the canvas, and not forget to read the comments. Those can be informative and entertaining. Give credit, and support surviving local newspapers, especially ones that are privately owned. They do their ultimate best to deliver a truthful and accurate picture. They have survived for a reason.

Ultimately, the responsibility is yours. Manage your media consumption. Determine if these so called ‘breaking news’ items are indeed relevant to your personal life. If you’re going to, read and watch what interests and affects you, but always with a dose of suspicion. Look for more than one source, and decide what you should believe. It’s beyond sad, but it’s gotten to this.