Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Afstan: Senlis Council, Canada and the media

Further to this post May 28, the media coverage in fact reflects what Ms. MacDonald said--but certain things receive rather less coverage (if any) than I gave them. And I think those things are vital to the Canadian public's understanding of the situation.

Ottawa Citizen. The sixth paragraph:
"Our military are doing a remarkable job in the most difficult circumstances, but our government is not doing what needs to be done in development, aid or counter-narcotics policies to be sure that we have the support of the Afghan people," said Ms. MacDonald. "Without winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, we will continue to win the battles, but we will not the war."
And buried near the end of the story:
Despite its concerns, Senlis is not calling for a Canadian withdrawal from Afghanistan. In fact, Canada should not set a timetable for leaving, but instead set clear goals for the mission and not leave until they are accomplished, said Ms. MacDonald.
The second paragraph is omitted in the Montreal Gazette version of the story.

Canadian Press. Near the end:
"Despite my concerns about our development aid and counter-narcotics policy, I firmly believe Canada should not leave and we should not fix a date on when we should go," said MacDonald, who echoed a line Harper often uses: "We must stay until we complete the job we started."

What happens in Afghanistan in the next months will have an impact on the security of Canadians for generations to come, she said.

"What need [sic] is not a fixed date to leave. What we need is a fixed list of what we have to achieve before we leave."
Putting these paragraphs near the end led to their not being included in any of the newspaper versions of the story I found, such as this one from the London Free Press.

Agence France Presse
. No mention of completing the military mission.

CBC. No mention of completing the military mission.

Toronto Star. A mix of the CP and AFP stories--no mention of completing the military mission.

Vancouver Sun. Barbara Yaffe, in an opinion piece, makes no mention of completing the military mission.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is what journalists refer to as "selective ethics" . . . pick * chose the parts of original story you want to use to reinforce your own opinion.

The parts that don't work for you, you ignore.

1:40 p.m., May 29, 2007  
Blogger Mark said...

Thank you, Mr. Collins.

The sort of subjective, partisan and politically motivated selection of "news" by the major media confirms my distrust of them and highlights the importance of alternative media in the purveyance of facts, particularly with respect to contentious matters like Afghanistan.

Canadians must begin to realize that the nightly news and the papers they read are most probably not the full revelation of interviews nor reports from the ground. They are politically slanted revisions thereof, intended to shape public opinion rather than simply inform.

10:55 a.m., May 31, 2007  
Blogger DiamondDog said...

That would be a keen observation, except for the fact that those things appeared near the end of the Senlis Council's own press release. So the media attached the same priority in their accounts as the Council did. The important recommendations were front and centre, as they should have been. The rest is dog-bites-man.

1:51 p.m., May 31, 2007  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

DiamondDog: The reporters were at the event where Ms MacDonald stressed the need for our troops to stay since without the security they provide aid/development will not be possible.

I guess you did not read this post the previous day:

'The Senlis Council: "Canada in Afghanistan'

"One of the Council's key messages is in this excerpt from the news release headers:

'Canada must stay in Afghanistan'"

But our media have their priorities, including ignoring completely the above recommendation in four of the six news stories I noted.

Bite your own dog, man.


3:47 p.m., May 31, 2007  
Blogger DiamondDog said...

"Canada must stay in Afghanistan" appears in the very LAST paragraph of the Council report. I did actually read the Councuil report, and place a lot more currency on the word from the horse's mouth than I do on your subsequent spin.

"One of the Council's key messages is in this excerpt from the news release headers" comes from your blog entry. In fact, "Canada must stay in Afghanistan" was not a header - it was the first sentence under the header "Canada should be clear about its goals for Kandahar - and stay until the job is done." And, as stated, that was the last paragraph of the Council report. If your complaint is that the media have somehow buried the lead (or what you perceive to be the lead ahead of the other important recommendations), they have followed the Council itself. Obviously if the Council didn't recommend that Canada stay in Afghanistan, all of the other recommendations would be moot.

1:31 p.m., June 01, 2007  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Diamonddog: Here is the header:

28 MAY 2007

Prime Minister Harper must dramatically overhaul Canada’s strategy development, aid and counter narcotics policy in Afghanistan

Canada must stay in Afghanistan – Senlis calls for Special Envoy to replace CIDA in Kandahar

Senlis Council to testify to Foreign Affairs Committee"

You say: "Obviously if the Council didn't recommend that Canada stay in Afghanistan, all of the other recommendations would be moot." The NDP thinks we can do aid/development after an immediate troop withdrawal; the Liberals and Bloc think we can do them after we end our combat role. The striking thing is that Senlis says the combat role must continue. And Ms MacDonald said all/all NATO members should engage in combat. Given all the (legitimate) complaints in Canada that many other members are not carrying their weight, I would have thought that newsworthy.

Keep biting your dog.


1:48 p.m., June 01, 2007  
Blogger DiamondDog said...

I stand corrected on the issue of the header - thank you for pointing it out again. I guess I've become conditioned to avoid headlines.

However, the fact remains that in spite of the header, the endorsement of continuation of the military mission does indeed appear late in the news release, and this was accurately reflected in the CP story. The rejection of CIDA was the main "news" out of this release, and was most prominently reflected. On the other hand, in your blog entry regarding the Council's report you made it look like their endorsement of the CF presence was the most newsworthy item, which doesn't accurately reflect the news release. If the Council had opposed Canada's military presence in Afghanistan, THAT most certainly would have been newsworthy. Endorsement of the status quo - not so much.

2:40 p.m., June 01, 2007  

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