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most know nothing about referendum; corporate media keeps it that way

deafplayer

TRIBE Member
Just months before Ontario's first referendum in nearly a century, polls show literally most voters know nothing about their choice, or aren't even aware they have one. Oh, and its on whether to change our electoral system.

Meanwhile, corporate media is reporting next to nothing on it. I personally know several households that subscribe to the Globe & Mail (owned by the conglomerate CTVglobemedia Inc.) and follow and discuss politics, and have no awareness of the first referendum in nearly a century. The Globe is not alone, of course.

Check this out:
www.democraticmedia.ca/mediacheck

(Canadians for Democratic Media just coordinated an unprecedented public intervention campaign that mobilized almost 2,000 Canadians (as opposed to the usual dozen) to intervene in an important CRTC proceeding on concentration of control in our media system. They demand a stop to the 'big media takeover'.

The present situation of the 'missing referendum' exactly what they're concerned about. This is a consequence of having like 4 entities control our major media. An alarming example of the failure of our concentrated corporate media system (aka "Big Media") in our democracy.)
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
they probably would but right now its just not easy to put into a news story. Those who want change need to make it news, the referendum wasn't the goal it was the means to the goal and right now status quo is winning by default.

I have no pitty for those who want change but sit silently waiting for it without raising the issue.
 

acheron

TRIBE Member
You try explaining electoral reform to Joe "Toronto SUN" Shlabotnik and see how far you get before he either falls asleep or punches you in the face.
 

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
First of all, they HAVE been trying to raise awareness. Second, we should NEVER EVER EVER resist an initiative based on the assumed ignorance or apathy of...Shlabotniks. I don't think people are as apathetic or stupid as others claim. It's usually just a lazy argument for why something 'wouldn't' work.

It's like how Ditto Much proclaims that he's got no sympathy for people he THINKS haven't done anything to raise awareness. He's only assuming they haven't, but chooses (deliberately???) to ignore the incredibly huge pink elephant in the room: corporate interest in keep the issue off the main stage.
 

AdRiaN

TRIBE Member
It's a well-known fact that your average citizen does not care about politics during the summer. We've heard next to nothing about the provincial election campaign either. Nobody wants to be bothered when the weather is warm and attitudes are laid back.

You're barking up the wrong tree if you think it's a conspiracy of Big Media.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
SellyCat said:
It's like how Ditto Much proclaims that he's got no sympathy for people he THINKS haven't done anything to raise awareness. He's only assuming they haven't, but chooses (deliberately???) to ignore the incredibly huge pink elephant in the room: corporate interest in keep the issue off the main stage.

Oh come on you can't be claiming I don't see the elephant or know what the referendum is about. Clearly I do.

Bitching about not getting the 6 o'clock news coverage is silly, if people want to promote an opinion on the subject the ball is in their court.
 

deafplayer

TRIBE Member
the premise that 'ordinary people' are stupid and lazy and incapable of participating in politics is condescending, snobby, and also indicates a certain attitude toward democracy

The idea that lacking news coverage is the result of said imagined stupid/uninterested population is curious, since its quite obvious that the general public are not the ones who manage the news, but rather it is successful corporate professionals who do that decision-making and produce the shit we see on TV.

In my experience, 100% of the time that I've informed people there is a referendum (the first in nearly a century, on changing our electoral system, etc etc) they have been interested, and also interested in the fact that they had not been informed before this...

Finally, there is a lot of work showing that important common opinions and interests are not reflected in news coverage. The fact that there is a systemic discrepency between the general public and corporate news is both institutionally obvious and has been empirically substantiated.
 

deafplayer

TRIBE Member
Ditto Much said:
sit silently waiting for it without raising the issue.
Ditto Much said:
if people want to promote an opinion on the subject the ball is in their court.
um... again, like Selly pointed out, your assumption that they're not acting to promote their ideas is false: they are in fact using your proverbial "ball", creating specific news and debate that corporate media is choosing not to report.

Its not as if the ball is simply 'in their court' to use - in between them and the general public stands a little something called the corporate media
 

AdRiaN

TRIBE Member
I don't know about you guys, but I received a flyer in the mail about a week or two ago from Elections Ontario informing me of the upcoming election and referendum (including a picture of the referendum ballot).

I would assume the flyer had been mailed to every household in Ontario.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
An official elections-ontario mailout is not the same thing as comprehensive coverage of the referendum and what it means.

I have seen some good stuff on TVO, panel discussions, news stories and the like. I'm pretty sure Don Newman's "Politics" would have had to have had some coverage over the past year as well... But TVO and Don Newman don't have the same draw as the flagship newscasts of say, CTV or Global.

I haven't done any research on this, but I expect if one were to count news stories on television that CTV and Global would be lagging far behind TVO and CBC for coverage on this (sometimes I wish I had Lexis-Nexis access - still thinking about asking for a year's worth of access for Christmas one year and starting a blog).
 

deafplayer

TRIBE Member
I agree with praktik's point: a non-dedicated flyer in the mail with under 2 months to go is not the same as comprehensive coverage, public debate. I've never even seen the flyer (though I've heard others mention it).

Moreover, there are widely acknowledged severe shortcomings of the government's education campaign: specifically, required to be 'neutral', they are ristricted from discussing the "consequences" of the technical details that would be changed. The government's education campaign can only describe the technical legal changes. They can't talk about their purpose or effects.

This is actually acknowledged in corporate media to be obviously insufficient to change the "widespread public ignorance" (quoting a Star article). But in the article that mentions this problem, they still don't actually indicate why anyone would support or oppose MMP, nor describe its purpose/consequences. Instead, they accept that people will just have to vote with "minimal knowledge", then they actually report conjecture by "referendum experts" and academics on which way the public is likely to vote when they know nothing (change or status quo)

Unsurprisingly, polls show that people who actually know about MMP are far more likely to support it. But the Star article doesn't mention that.
 
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acheron

TRIBE Member
so... if you want to engage the public in a discussion about the referendum, exactly what do you propose the networks do about it? We live in an era of 15 second soundbites and 'event news'. Electoral reform is a subject that will put most people to sleep and make them change the channel to something more entertaining.

I don't think the news media are avoiding this topic at all - I think they're giving it as much room as they can afford to without turning off their readers/viewers. As you say, it's been flyered by the government, and local representatives have followed up with their own opinions on the matter... tvo has covered it, I've seen stories in the papers about it, there are numerous facebook groups about it, we're talking about it here, the political blogs are all over it, I'm not sure what else can reasonably be expected. Electoral reform is a policy wonk's wet dream. Wonks can debate electoral reform for days and not feel the least bit bored. Talk to someone who isn't interested in how, just who, and they fall asleep.

It's a boring topic. That's why it's not being reported as much as you might like. People simply aren't interested in stuff like this.

I'd like to hear some suggestions on what 'big media' should be doing to promote it.. How can they make this interesting?
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
AdRiaN said:
Here's a question -- how much coverage has the referendum received in NOW Magazine?
in whatever space was availble between the rage fuelled rants about not enough bicycle paths and giving 4 "N" ratings to any restaurant that is opened by a dude with multiple peircings and serves at least one
local trout dish in either cabbagetown or parkdale.


------------------

theres actually some decent analysis in NOW but its very toronto focused,
i wish there was more talked about the recent scandal with the ministry of citizenship and immigration, never mind that they gave millions to various groups, i cant understand why a provincial ministry of immigration needs to be giving out such large sums for sport and community groups while they are cutting ESL programs.

barf.
 

saskboy

TRIBE Member
what passes for news in this country is really gossip

if personalities aren't involved, nobody wants to cover it
 

deafplayer

TRIBE Member
acheron,if people don’t even know about the referendum issue, how could they possibly be uninterested and bored with it? That’s impossible.

Besides, polls show that when people know more about the issue they are far more likely to support the proposal to change our electoral system

(In addition, you suggested that average people have caveman-like stupidity preventing them from ever understanding this issue. If thats how you see people, your conjecture about what does or does not interest “them” has little credibility to me.)

Second, its simply not true that popular interest somehow controls corporate media. Its visible to any non-expert that audiences don't run the newsroom. Again I’m not sure what you’re basing this on. There is a lot of research showing corporate media content does not reflect the interests and opinions of the general public, and in fact directly opposes them.

...it's been flyered by the government, and local representatives have followed up with their own opinions on the matter... tvo has covered it, I've seen stories in the papers about it, there are numerous facebook groups about it, we're talking about it here, the political blogs are all over it, I'm not sure what else can reasonably be expected.
I don’t know about you but I think the fact that only 30% of voters have “any familiarity at all” with the object of the referendum is completely unacceptable. I think we can reasonably do better than that.
Electoral reform is a policy wonk's wet dream. Wonks can debate electoral reform for days and not feel the least bit bored. Talk to someone who isn't interested in how, just who, and they fall asleep.
I don’t know what you’re basing this on.

Almost everyone I know who is interested in electoral reform is decidedly *not* a “policy wonk” at all.

The central issue is very simple: whether or not representation in the legislature should be proportional to the popular vote.

Its not that complicated.

Anyway, I’m curious about your constant emphasis on how lazy and tired and bored and stupid people are... is this based on your experience?
I'd like to hear some suggestions on what 'big media' should be doing to promote it.. How can they make this interesting?
I'm not at all convinced that the problem is for them to "make it interesting".

They could report the news, and attempt an explanation of the issue and its context. We're having this referendum becuase the Citizens' Assembly, made up of one random citizen from each of Ontario's ridings, recommended electoral reform for specific reasons. There is stuff to explain and investigate, and ongoing news and discussion to report.

I’d like to hear how you think corporate media works the way you assert: having their hands tied by stupid and lazy audiences....
 
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Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
deafplayer said:
Besides, polls show that when people know more about the issue they are far more likely to support the proposal to change our electoral system
In the last US election rap artists and musicians got together to stage "Get out and vote" shows. They didn't specifically say which party to vote for, only that they should get involved and thus avoided a huge raft of laws. It was pretty clear from the artist selection and from the messages they were sending which party they wanted people to vote for but it was never said.

I worry that your gripe with the corporate media is that they aren't playing the voice for reform that you would like. I get the impression that any coverage in your opinion is positive coverage or propaganda against reform. Your trying to cause the 'get out in vote' in hopes that it turns large numbers of people to say reform for the sake of reform.

deafplayer said:
(In addition, you suggested that average people have caveman-like stupidity preventing them from ever understanding this issue. If thats how you see people, your conjecture about what does or does not interest “them” has little credibility to me.)
Okay I'll play be that rule

deafplayer said:
Second, its simply not true that popular interest somehow controls corporate media. Its visible to any non-expert that audiences don't run the newsroom. Again I’m not sure what you’re basing this on. There is a lot of research showing corporate media content does not reflect the interests and opinions of the general public, and in fact directly opposes them.
okay a little tougher for me to swallow without question but I will. I think its a tad dogmatic and I'm afriad of the absolute that you are proposing because clearly events are treated different then the election. Right now we're not seeing any HEAVY election coverage outside of the pre-election ads.

deafplayer said:
I don’t know about you but I think the fact that only 30% of voters have “any familiarity at all” with the object of the referendum is completely unacceptable. I think we can reasonably do better than that.I don’t know what you’re basing this on.
Yes and that number will be up to 80-90 by the time that the election is being voted on. It will be fine!!! The fact that right now its only %30 suggests that which you very strongly disagreed with earlier.

deafplayer said:
If thats how you see people, your conjecture about what does or does not interest “them” has little credibility to me.
I suggest that only about 1/3 of eligible voters follow politics outside of elections, 1/3 of the population doesn't follow it at all and basically don't vote and 1/3 vote in elections and follow the campaigns and then after the election lose interest until the next one. They aren't cavemen and sometimes the 1/3 who don't care at all do vote in small numbers but that only %30 know about the issue before the campaigning starts is perfectly acceptable.

deafplayer said:
Almost everyone I know who is interested in electoral reform is decidedly *not* a “policy wonk” at all.

The central issue is very simple: whether or not representation in the legislature should be proportional to the popular vote.

Its not that complicated.

Unless you live outside of the region of popular vote. If you live in rural ontario or northern ontario this might not be the best deal ever. Geography plays a clear role in this as well as some major reforms that are going to open some larger debates. Simply getting the message out is one thing but I think your hoping on simply the word reform getting people to check the box with a minimal explanation as to what is going on and what the issues might be. Your blaming corporate media for instead of buying in on reform ignoring it when it hasn't even become a minor issue yet. Its to early to be an election issue, its to early for the election to be entirely news worthy and you have a forgone conclusion as to what the result will be. Your using the 'corporate media' as a scapegoat.

deafplayer said:
Anyway, I’m curious about your constant emphasis on how lazy and tired and bored and stupid people are... is this based on your experience?
I'm not at all convinced that the problem is for them to "make it interesting".
not directed at me so I'm skippin it.

deafplayer said:
They could report the news, and attempt an explanation of the issue and its context. We're having this referendum becuase the Citizens' Assembly, made up of one random citizen from each of Ontario's ridings, recommended electoral reform for specific reasons. There is stuff to explain and investigate, and ongoing news and discussion to report.
I agree but the key issue of the election has not yet been decided, I think this might be a good one!! and I think it might get some coverage as we go into full campaign mode in the next little while. But if you want better information to get out I think its a matter of timing. Play the card to early and it will get trumped by an issue that pops up midway.

deafplayer said:
I’d like to hear how you think corporate media works the way you assert: having their hands tied by stupid and lazy audiences....

Alott of it relates to channel surfing and ratings. Stories that are short or are current disasters tend to be watched, stories that are indepth or require significant build are better suited for the one hour news like discussions which don't get good ratings. Once when the issue becomes snippit and its easy to hit on it in a tiny fashion the news media picks up on it. I don't know who is for or against this as from a corporate media standpoint I don't think that reform is going to be a negative. If anything it may help them.
 

Onthereals

TRIBE Member
I'm surprised by people who still get outraged when they realize that corporate media is mainly propaganda. As if corporations don't have an agenda and private interests. I also love apologists whose rubric follows the lines of, 'oh, the media is just trying to serve the peoples interest, and the people are retards.' I think its more that those who are calling the shots like to perpetuate this idea that everyone has ADD and require explosions, so that they can continue to remain in power unquestioned.

If this isnt so, why are people like Rupert Murdoch so willing to buy money-losing operations(ie, Wall Street Journal)? Because they get to set the agenda. With these corporations that own the mainstream media, (GE, Rogers, etc.) these media operations are almost like charity, they aren't too surprised if they lose money, because there is hidden benefits in setting the agenda and presenting their conventional wisdom. They help out their other money-making operations. So I don't think they are trying to cater to peoples interests because a true democratic media would try to present a story like the referendum, boring or not, because it is an important question to the general electorate, and should require discussion. Obviously, the corporate media has issues with this referendum, and are trying to muffle this one.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
Well, Murdoch and others have found ways to drive profits while getting the editorial line they want. Part of the way the message is shaped is because of financial constraints: closing of foreign bureaus, less costly and lengthy investigative journalism, the priority of the shareholders made paramount etc.

While some newsrooms are run at a loss, these are the ones that are held by a few wealthy aristocrats - forget the family names for a moment. But after the ones holding the Chicago Tribune sold it off, journalistic quality is generally regarded to have suffered. These wealthy families have traditions of support for the public interest and upholding of the ideals of journalism (ie, hands off the editorial staff) that lets them run these operations at a loss - they have the money to withstand that loss easily. They probably see it as philanthropic.

Murdoch's approach is entirely different. He can wring profits while getting his message out, and that's the model most of the industry is following.
 

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
Onthereals said:
I'm surprised by people who still get outraged when they realize that corporate media is mainly propaganda. As if corporations don't have an agenda and private interests. I also love apologists whose rubric follows the lines of, 'oh, the media is just trying to serve the peoples interest, and the people are retards.' I think its more that those who are calling the shots like to perpetuate this idea that everyone has ADD and require explosions, so that they can continue to remain in power unquestioned.
100%

This drives me fucking bananas! And regular people use the logic in such a self-serving way, like their superior to the lowly, stupid masses. Forget the fact that if it's even true, it's a chicken & egg situation. Mass-communication systems like cable television provide content that very clearly promotes apathy and consumer addiction, while inhibiting critical thought and invalidating dissent.

Even so, it's amazing how successful they've been in convincing individuals that the population--of which they are a part--is retarded, apathetic, and ASKED TO FED WHAT'S ON TV!

The illusion is destroyed with a very simple question: What is the mechanism by which all the consumers tell corporations what to produce? Do corporations produce content based on psychological profiling, or do they respond to a democratic process whereby the majority of individuals submit their proposals for content?

The answer is right there. People buy what they are sold, because they think that if it's for sale, then it must be what people want. And I'm not being hypocritical, because this pattern doesn't indicate collective stupidity; it indicates the success of a cyclical process of indoctrination that is invisible because people assume it's transparent enough that they'd figure it out.
 

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
There's a huge incentive for individuals to believe that the general population is stupid and apathetic: it makes the individual feel superior via the sensation of awareness about this supposed condition. That delusional superiority naturally induces a kind of identification with elite perspectives and interests.

It's as simple as it is insidious.

Seriously, if we believe people are stupid, we'll treat them like idiots and deprive them of opportunities to demonstrate their potential. The fallacy of superiority is self-perpetuating: "Look at those idiots consuming the idiocy we feed them; clearly they don't desire an alternative."
 
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