What media matters?

3 minute read

I recently had the opportunity to meet Bill Weaver, host of a popular annual retreat called Media That Matters. I know several people who have attended, from corporate media (formerly known as mainstream media) to bloggers, to documentary video producers. They all speak very highly of it, and recommended I attend. Bill has decided to host a private event later today, with amateurs and professionals alike, to discuss the future of media, and all of the potential opportunities that may include.

I've been thinking a lot about it lately, especially since last week when I wrote a story that will undoubtedly change me forever. I often call people out, especially professionals, on not verifying their facts. Last week I got a taste of my own medicine, when on twitter I read that the #occupyvictoria protest was being shut down. I verified, twice, that the power had been cut off at the camp. and the water as well. Shortly after, there were reports of people being arrested, and that VicPD was shutting their kitchen down. I took all of this and quickly posted it onto the 250life blog, knowing this would likely be another case where I'd break the news before any other organization on the island. The fact that VicPD was shutting down #occupyvictoria is news, as city council passed a bylaw as I understand, to ignore enforcement of the "tent rule" during the occupy movement. It turns out the kitchen shut down was yet another complete fabrication as a demonstration of manipulation, at all costs, by a specific twitter user. It made sense based on the logical progression of events, and demonstrates the value in verifying every part of a story.

I then read an interesting blog about David Arthur Johnston, no stranger to the Victoria police department or corporate media, to be sure. Even I was aware of him, from back in 2008 when I worked with the Canadian Pacific Lawn Bowling Club to save the largest active greenspace in downtown Victoria from development (which succeeded). David had started a tent city next door to the clubhouse, was arrested, and went to court. This case went to B.C. supreme court, which ruled that citizens have the right to camp in public parks. Fast forward to today, where the municipality has a rule where you can only have your tents up from 7pm to 7am.

I don't know any more about David's story over the last 3 years, until last week I read this story on how he's been jailed twice in the last year, 30 days at a time, and fasted the whole time. From the little I've read, his story has always been the same, he insists that he should be allowed to camp on city property. He's so passionate about it, he's committed to fasting if he goes to jail.

It seems around two weeks ago now, David Arthur Johnston was arrested, for tenting, in the city permitted #occupyvictoria zone. After 10 days in jail, he went to court, where a judge gave him 60 days in jail, longer than one would likely survive while fasting. The judge assured the court, presumably understanding of the issue, that David would be released, but a lawyer for the city of Victoria insisted on enforcing incarceration.

Three days after I published the story on David's jail sentence, which has become quite popular because of lying within the hardline anarchist rankings of the #occupyvictoria movement, the Times Colonist reported on the story, the first and only corporate media story I can find on this issue, where a local man appears to be prepared to die while he peacefully protests a cause in which he believes. It's in the travel section, apparently jail is quite a trip.

We've hit a turning point in media consumption, there's a plethora of inputs; how do we filter the content for our ideal output? How do ignore those who are intentionally, or unintentionally, crying wolf? When should we listen to some random blogger or tweet, before the corporate media? How should we be consuming media?

When I read the online comments of corporate media readers, I can't help but cringe at what appears to be the lack of critical thinking and literacy rate of their consumers.  Hopefully these are some of the topics a the media that matters 3.0 meetup this evening. I look forward to discussing these issues with other attendees. If you're not attending, we've been asked to use the #mtmnet and #mtmvic hashtags on twitter.




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