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VISION P.E.I.: The media is failing us

Media not putting enough resources into investigative journalism - Vision P.E.I.
Media not putting enough resources into investigative journalism - Vision P.E.I.

More hard information must be provided to Islanders by the media or else democracy will be effectively subverted

Good news, nothing wrong with that, right? Human interest stories, social events, prepared government press releases…all legit, and of interest to Islanders.

But, unfortunately, there is also a darker and more hidden side to events on P.E.I.; secret deals, wasteful spending, gross mismanagement of key sectors, profiteering and patronage. Islanders also need to be informed about these less-than-positive activities. In fact, for the media to be stepping back from such stories amounts to a stepping back from responsible governance, which is not possible without an informed electorate.

More ‘hard’ information must be provided to Islanders by the media or else the population will become so dumbed-down politically that democracy will be effectively subverted.

There are significant consequences associated with media failures. Politicians get a free ride. They can lie, spin, ignore questions and change topics with impunity, knowing full well that there will be no sustained questioning. Election promises and weak, vague platforms go unchallenged. Politicos simply hunker down and weather a bit of bad press, knowing it will all blow over in a day or two.

Yes indeed, media negligence is heaven for the politicians who can carry on with little fear of sustained, intelligent scrutiny. But it’s hell for the future of the Island.

When we look at the state of apathy, low voter turnout, and ignorance of political events on P.E.I., we must look to the organizations tasked with informing the public for improvements; i.e. CBC and the Guardian in particular. To be fair, there are a few bright spots: individuals who demonstrate the willingness and courage to expose nefarious political deeds from time-to-time. In addition, the Guardian occasionally shows some editorial spunk. But, where is the balance?

What should the ratio be between “good” news, mindless fluff and actual “hard” news? Where are the follow-ups on critical stories and events? Let’s face it, it’s impossible to get to the bottom of a controversy with a single story. That approach is mere tokenism; a paying of lip service to investigative reporting.

Some in the media may say, “hey! that’s the opposition’s job.” Or, “we just don’t have adequate resources.” We beg to differ. The media is, or should be, the independent, unbiased voice for all citizens. Resources can be re-allocated, given the right priorities and yes, the objectives and conscience of management. It happens in other organizations, why not in our local media?

We at Vision P.E.I. believe that many Islanders are completely fed up with “politics as usual.” The feedback we receive on our social media postings indicates this to us on a daily basis. It’s a shame though that so many have simply tuned out. The silent majority out there have seemingly stopped caring. When informed of a political scandal they shrug and ask “so what else is new?”

We have been under-served by the media, but with a priority focus on investigative reporting and a renewed commitment to ensure that Islanders are fully informed about what really matters, the media does not have to keep failing us.

- Vision P.E.I. members who helped prepare this article include David Weale, Dale Small, Kevin J. Arsenault and Wayne Carver

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