"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Geoff Meeker ponders the negative:

[...] if there’s conflict, it’s going to make news.

Criticizing the media for covering a “negative” story is like accusing fire fighters of putting out fires. Both are necessary facts of life.
Indeed. And who knows that better (or should) than an opposition in a Westminster Parliament? Government proposes, opposition disposes. A necessary fact of life.

Take, for example, the late provincial opposition in Dannystan, then led by the current Premier. Reproduced below are the headlines of every press release that the PC caucus issued in the two months ending July 11, 2002.

There are 74 headlines. This corner counts 17 which are relatively neutral or purely informational, offering up mere facts on itinerary, speaking engagements, and nomination meetings; or occasional messages such as the Beaumont-Hamel anniversary or the federal by-election results. (This being part of that halcyon period from 2001 to 2006 when the current provincial PC leader took a great interest in promoting the electoral success of the federal PC and Conservative parties.)

That leaves 57. Of those, fully 52, again by this corner's count, are "negative" — critical of federal or provincial government policies and actions, or critical of federal or provincial political figures.

Positivity? Well, Wally Young was positive about Big Droke, Williams about Lloyd Wicks, and Taylor about Their Norwegian Majesties.

The only positive policy propositions in this sample are Osborne's holiday plan and the bit about physical education.

This list doesn't even include the frequent use that their comms shop made of links to third-party content such as CBC or Telegram stories. Needless to say, the Little Shop of Tories wasn't linking to the upbeat and cheery.

Why would the opposition party be so ruthlessly and unrelentingly negative?

Because, as part of a media strategy, it only makes sense: the press wants conflict, not buttercups. The Williams Tories, in opposition, were only too pleased to oblige. (And, in government, they still are: more on this in Part III.)

And, as part of an overall political strategy, it's one of those pesky but necessary facts of life. Government proposes, opposition disposes. When the Premier complains about opposition negativity, what he's really complaining about is that they are doing their job.

(The necessary corollary, of course, is that when he commends the opposition, it means they aren't.)

The list:

Ottenheimer supports review of planned increases in electricity rates for Labrador West
Fishermen face bitter irony on Northern Peninsula: Taylor
Government's handling of emergency physician shortage could create crisis in rural areas
Voisey's Bay project's environmental assessment could significantly alter plans for Argentia
Osborne demands inquiry into disposal of transformer casings at New Harbour Dump
Remembering Beaumont Hamel, July 1, 1916
Wiseman asks Health Minister why all the health reports remain hidden
Manley should make health a priority when allocating surplus
Another fisheries panel for Reid to ignore
Danny Williams' itinerary for Grand Falls-Windsor
PC Party has a candidate in place in Twillingate & Fogo District
Wiseman raises concerns with oncology staff shortages, calls for new recruitment strategy
Danny Williams' itinerary for the coming week
PC Party calls for nominations in Twillingate & Fogo District
PC Party has candidate in place in Conception Bay South
Premier not giving people the facts on Voisey's Bay
Williams says government broke promises, failed to secure guarantees on Voisey's Bay
Come By Chance mayor Joan Cleary to carry Tory banner in Bellevue District
Thibault wrong to reject parliamentary committee recommendation to leave the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO)
Grimes government squanders medical equipment money
Government fails to properly pilot curriculum
PC Party calls for nominations in Bellevue District
Williams asks for public input before vote on Voisey's Bay
MHA Wallace Young lends support to Big Droke Foundation proposal
Goulds residents forced to sign unprecedented waiver form in order to get water delivery
Wiseman calls for release of health boards' action plans and Hay report response
Osborne less than thrilled with progress under the National Child Benefit
Will summer hospital bed closures be permanent?
Inadequate screening and treatment delays leave people in this province at greater risk of dying of cancer
Grimes Liberals poised to break another 1999 promise by 'casualizing' nurses
Could European Union fisheries measures leave Nose and Tail more vulnerable?
MHA Wallace Young raises concern over lack of long-term planning for St. Barbe wharf
John Ottenheimer to speak on Voisey's Bay
Grimes government ignoring Northern Peninsula: Taylor
Time for a by-election in Bonavista North, says Williams
Talks on restructuring electrical industry should be opened up - all the way
Wiseman warns St. Clare's emergency department could be next on chopping block
PC Party has candidate in place in Trinity North
Shelley said road-work announcement just not acceptable
Confirmed: PCB waste from a government-managed 'cleanup' ended up at New Harbour dump: Osborne calling for inquiry
If government can't manage a tire recycling contract, how can it be trusted to manage a multi-billion-dollar Voisey's Bay deal?
PCB waste from a government-managed 'cleanup' ends up at New Harbour dump
We must not open our ports to countries that overfish
Grimes government rejects accountability for lobbyists
PC Party calls for nominations in Trinity North
PC Party has candidate in place in Lewisporte
Opposition wants clause that subjects approval of Voisey's Bay deal to ratification by legislature
Voisey's Bay agreement needs clause subjecting it to ratification in the House
PC Party has candidate in place in Port de Grave
Crab and shrimp industry: lack of leadership and action jeopardizing fishery again this year
Tire recycling contract in jeopardy
Chapel's Cove residents still worried about effects of arsenic in water
Grimes refuses debate on Voisey's Bay before deal is signed
Debate Voisey's Bay deal before it is binding on the province
Two more PC caucus members to give speeches on pending Voisey's Bay deal
Sullivan says hiring list indicates patronage determines who gets publicly-funded job
Some get their Alzheimer's medication - but some must pay in two-tier system
PC Party calls for nominations in Lewisporte District
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) a poor measure of the province's economy
Fragmented responsibility jeopardizes public health
Oil recycling program needed to cut risk of environmental damage
Osborne wants to give retail workers Sundays off on Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day, Victoria Day weekend, Labour Day weekend
PC Party calls for nominations in Port de Grave District
Congratulations to federal PC candidate Rex Barnes, elected Monday in Gander-Grand Falls.
Even Liberal backbenchers in the dark about Voisey's Bay plans
Government blocks petitions calling for debate before Voisey's Bay deal is signed
Osborne to hold town hall meeting on Voisey's Bay on Tues May 14
Williams congratulates retired Judge Lloyd Wicks on appointment as Child and Youth Advocate
Stand-alone Janeway emergency department in jeopardy despite promise
Bank of Montréal says Grimes government misreporting deficit
Bell Island ferry accident aftermath a wake-up call: Government has no long-term plan to update diagnostic equipment
Taylor compliments King and Queen of Norway for visit, regrets not meeting them
Investing in physical education in schools is the key to tackling obesity
Manning wants Fisheries Minister to ensure St. Bride's keeps its fish processing licence

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home