As clearly as at any time before, last weekend may just as well be regarded as a watershed moment in the history of Canada's two largest newspapers, the pivot around which the Globe & Mail and the Toronto Star finally relinquished any semblance of a mission to provide information and embarked on the full-scale construction of a politically-unassailable edifice of mass opinion instead. Two full-page cover stories with imposing and inferential headlines backed by large, carefully selected and context-driven images… two full-artillery assaults to choke off any remaining deviance from engineered norms of opinion on climate change.
lavishly illustrated with a spread of colourful and suggestive photographs of fallen trees, polar bears, snowdrifts… or anything that could have been taken from the stock photo archive of any news agency since the advent of colour printing. But the context is the thing, and it is the context for which readers have been carefully prepared over the past few years of climate reporting that overwhelms critical scrutiny and allows the appearance of substantiating fact by entirely substituting it with opinion. The basic premise of Mittelstaedt's story is established in the lede:
It is the ellipsis between the first two sentences that betrays the intent:
Climate change is no longer a vague threat. A new Globe polls finds that 4 out of 5 Canadians say they’ve seen it first-hand. We fear for our children and our grandchildren. We want action. We’re ready for sacrifices. But what action? And which sacrifices?
It would seem that even memory has become an engineering project these days. To those whose memories do extend ten, twenty, forty or sixty years in the past and not in the immediate domain of the media's suggestion, weather is no more remarkable now than it has ever been. The difference is that a context has been supplied within which every storm, every front, every high or low, every occurrence can be remarked… and it is. So the media giveth, and so the media taketh away the statistic that is critical both to their stories and to guaranteeing their position to suggest the answers to the questions they generously put in our mouths: "But what action? And which sacrifices?"
Climate change is no longer a vague threat because 4 out of 5 Canadians say they've seen it first-hand.
Because we who "want action" and are "ready for sacrifices" obviously don't know, and we're evidently not prepared to answer these questions for ourselves either! Don't tease us! We've only been taught how to react, not what to think! Wait, don't tell us… as long as the action and the sacrifices keep the steady fix of "may," "might" and "could" of our context addiction going.
The second article, Who's still cool on global warming? by Peter Gorrie on the front page of the Sunday Star, was prefaced in the print edition by a large-font leader superimposed on a half-page graphic,
…which is conspicuously not subtitled, "Or do climate change proponents have a hidden agenda?" Again, the ponderousness of opinion is the "news," and, in fact, it's the only news really worth telling.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Posted by MapMaster on Wednesday, January 31, 2007