The shock of the news

In an effort to dispel the lockdown blues, I take part in organising a kind of pub quiz online. All it needs is some coordination, setting up a Zoom meeting, a quizmaster who reads the questions, a quiz book with the answers at the back, pen and paper, and we’re off. It’s composed exclusively of a very much extended family located in several locations around the world. In between rounds and at half time, it’s very chatty with everyone armed with nibbles and their favourite tipple. It surprised me how natural it felt after the first five minutes.

Some of them are located in Canada and I must admit that if there’s a benefit to a couple of hours spent in such a trivial diversion, it’s not only that it’s a bit of fun stopping you going cabin crazy, but watching the cousins getting to know each other as adults when in some cases they’ve never actually met in person. They can see and chat to each other and I can see personal friendships are being made, albeit over the artificial technology of the world wide web.

In between quizzes we share bits of music, pics, GIFs, tips, jokes, family news, domestic projects we’re working on and links to pertinent news items about their location or country. I happened to share a twitter link with one of the Canadian contingent about a COVID directive issued by a small town called Hamilton, only because I knew it was near them. It’s blatantly racist but issued under the official account of the City of Hamilton. In certain sections of the city, you can jump the queue and get your vaccination shot early, but not if you’re white. They were shocked by it but more surprised they hadn’t seen any reporting of it locally or in their national media.

While they’re professional, educated and steady parents of almost off their hands offspring (never happens BTW), I’m pretty sure they don’t share my reservations about what used to be termed the mainstream news. It’s a personal view, but basically I think the old-fashioned dividing line between just the facts reportage and opinion pieces no longer exists. Too much of it is fake news. The vast majority of it is opinion pieces with a very selective set of the facts or rumoured facts that support whatever the opinion being pushed is. A more brutal version of that abuse of a reader’s implicit trust is to never report on a news item that goes against the official woke narrative or by its extremism, might alienate the common person.

Familial chat groups really should conform to the old but practical rule for dinner guests gathered around a table for an evening – you can discuss anything but religion or politics. Drag either of those into an informal social gathering and it’s only a matter of time before some sort of war breaks out. In an effort to head that development off at the pass, I said if I wanted to catch up with the news in any particular country, the last place I’d go nowadays would be its big domestic news outlets.

As an example, I mentioned the big demo in London at the weekend against the year-long lockdown and the prospect of not only another one, but vaccination passports before you could even go into a pub or restaurant. On the day, the BBC had simply done a news blackout on the whole event. The cheeky devil in me came out to play. I said that these days if I really wanted the basic news about what was going on in any country, I’d probably visit a foreign antithetical site like Russia Today (RT) and click on the appropriate geographical news.

To illustrate the point, I looked up Canadian news on RT and found a report of what a strange little town called Hamilton had done. It had actually made the front page of a website in Russia!

Immediately and off topic, a true believer in the BBC as an authoritative news organisation posted a link of the BBC reporting the demo. Yes, but that’s about four days before the event was my reply. Doesn’t count as reporting on breaking news. Another link, same variation in reply – that’s days after the event, doesn’t count as reporting and anyway, it’s a hit piece disguised as news. Not reportage and nothing on TV news on the day. Not a mention.

To prevent getting link carpet bombed by the true believer, I took my own advice and looked up on RT whatever they’d reported on the demo. Lo and behold, it was all there, reported as it happened on the day with lots of realtime commentary by the people who were actually taking to the streets. From the complete absence of any more link bombards and the general silence, I was strongly tempted to add something sobering like “it’s what we used to call journalism back in the day”, but was aware I’d slowly been irritated into breaking my own self-imposed no politics rule, so I posted some music instead. My de-escalation of the spat was helped by a witty but firm intervention by the quizmaster.

The state of Missouri is commonly known as the “show me” state, as are in a roundabout fashion the people born and raised there. Depending on which story you choose to believe about the origin of that term, it’s either derogatory or speaks to an admirable trait in any group of people. By my reckoning, it’s an attitude thing.

You can roll up in front of them in your flashy star-spangled bandwagon trying to sell them something using a lot of glitz, tits, glamour, graphs, powerpoint slides and fancy words, but at the end of the whole glittering extravaganza, they’ll simply ask the basic question they’re famous for – show me. In other words, give me one single tangible thing I can put my hand on that’ll prove to me you’re not the con artist I think you probably are.

You’ll get nowhere by haranguing people about how deceptive the mainstream media actually is, because they’ve trusted it all their lives. That way, you get tuned out. It’s better to point out as they occur things like blatant omissions used to manipulate people’s view of what’s happening around them locally, never mind around the world. Whether it’s in provincial Hamilton Ontario or big London town, deceptive practices like selective news blackouts are all exactly the same.

Show them.


Related articles by Pointman:

Silence doesn’t mean approval, nor does it mean acceptance.

Feminism is a dead end for women.

Click for a list of other articles.

4 Responses to “The shock of the news”
  1. Russ Wood says:

    On family discussions – my son seems to get all his ‘news’ from American ‘Infotainment’ television, so he’s completely ‘informed’ by totally biased programs. Since my wife and I DO read beyond the MSM, and watch very little TV, I get my info from other directions. This, of course, SERIOUSLY impedes family conversations, since, like all modern ‘liberals’, he feels it necessary to ‘re-educate’ us away from our wrong-think. Anyway, for the ‘alternative’ views, I thank you Pointy, along with RT, Epoch Times, GAB news, and (occasionally) Breitbart.


  2. Richard Ilfeld says:

    The Newhouse School of Communications circa 1968:
    “Who, What, Where, When, How Much, How Many”.
    Circa 2021:
    “What you must pretend to think to be non-evil”.


  3. babygrandparents says:

    The 2 major networks in Canada – CBC and CTV – are simply organs of the Federal/Liberal (Progressive) Government. There are one or 2 that try and get to real news but are slammed – as expected – as “alt right” or Fascist or fake news. There are some reliable news reporting but you really have to dig for it. And yes RT is one of them.


  4. philjourdan says:

    SO, when can Caucs start demaninding reparations? I say now.


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