Some advice on media — new and old

Peter Jackson
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If you used to joke about how your kids had to set the clock on your VCR, you could be suffering from a condition called technosis ignoramus.

This is a common condition, and treatment is rarely required. In fact, most of the population suffers flare-ups from time to time. I count myself among them.

But it’s not the kind of thing you usually want to trumpet in public. Most of us suffer in silence, or bring it up very discreetly in quiet whispers, such as leaning to the person next to you and asking, “Which button turns on the Internet again?”

We can’t expect all of our politicians to be completely up on new technology.

Many of them grew up in the era of dial phones and party lines. To them, a selfie might sound like some species of aquatic animal.

But we can reasonably expect those who don’t know how these things work — who can’t tell a SIM card from a breath mint — to keep a low profile when such topics arise.

Not so with Darin King, who rose in the House of Assembly last spring to admonish NDP member Gerry Rogers for being linked to a Facebook site she didn’t even know she was linked to.

For that, the equally techno-challenged Speaker, Ross Wiseman, kicked her out of the House. Wiseman later apologized. King has yet to do so.

Fellow minister Kevin O’Brien also suffers from techno shock when it comes to “Google boxes” and “Twitter boxes,” as he once called them.

In fact, modern technology so spooks O’Brien that he doesn’t think these mysterious online lurkers should even be voting in elections.

“People who don’t know what’s going on, voting for people they don’t know, is not appropriate,” he said in last spring’s issue of Municipal News.

He was referring to e-voting, that ominous idea that those out-of-touch Users of Computers don’t know what’s really happening in their communities. Perhaps they’re all playing “Minecraft” or hacking into the Pentagon instead of, oh, I don’t know, following the news?

The paranoia over e-voting came to a head last week, when St. John’s Coun. Wally Collins raised the spectre of planes falling out of the sky because some numbskull pushed the wrong button.

Here’s his increasingly famous take on the subject:

“I think too much can go wrong. I think hackers can get into it. You take even that airplane that was lost 10 days ago, down in Malaysia. Nobody knows what happened to that, if they turned on the buttons or turned off the buttons, right? All this is subject to hackers and I don’t agree with it. The way the system is now, there’s nothing wrong with it, as far as I’m concerned.”

This attitude towards new media is very troubling — especially since some politicians seem to have a poor understanding of old media as well.

While everyone was wondering who kicked the media out of a “public” meeting last week, St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe was unwittingly showing his hand to former Telegram photographer Gary Hebbard.

In a reply to a complaint from Hebbard about barring the media, O’Keefe essentially argued that the “public” sessions were somehow more open because recording equipment wouldn’t be allowed.

I won’t quote the exchange here, but it takes an odd twist of logic to equate banning media with openness.

Some, like O’Keefe, have protested that many people are afraid of showing up on the news. With all due respect, what level of fear do these people have?

Are they OK with 10 people, or 100, or 1,000? It’s a foolish equation. Public is public, and that means if it’s important to a larger audience, the media should be there.

By the way, if you don’t like having a microphone shoved in your face, why not write a letter or call city hall?

Better yet, email your concerns directly to those in charge.

That is, if you know how to use that email box.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s

commentary editor. Email:

Organizations: Google, Pentagon

Geographic location: Malaysia

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Recent comments

  • Maurice E. Adams
    March 26, 2014 - 07:32

    Very good Peter.... And when (for a few years now) I have been doing exactly what you suggest [letters/articles to your esteemed (and other) newspapers, web comments, even my own website], one of your esteemed colleagues referred to me as a "troll", it has been suggested that I am somehow making money off the issues I find important enough to comment on, etc.]---- in short --- the media attacking the messenger. ...........Walk the talk would be a good place to start Peter.

    • Cashin Delaney
      March 26, 2014 - 08:02

      I hide my identity (loosely) because I want the opinion to stand out, not the sordid/salubrious opinion of the flesh&bones me in real-time, space-time of gossipocracy. I have a baby and wife who eat, and I care not to live in constant strife because my opinions are in the way of the popular. I release them here, and carry on unburdened by politics (for a while). If they hold no sway here, they will hold less off of my stammering, simpering lips at an OPEN GOV open mic BOOHOO fest or a Ryan Cleary Bring your own hankie cry-in. It is all entertainment. Prov Gov, and media are infotainment, that's it. If either promoted a valid solution, they would lose tenure over our hides. I don't want to replace them, I want total attrition, to almost anarchy.

    • Trollz are wrong people too!
      March 26, 2014 - 13:27

      Ashley said you were "trolling", not that you were a "troll". She could be thinking of you as handsome reaction-fisherman, not ugly monster under the bridge. Don't play victim and lose your power to the press! The perfect Commentator exists, as does the perfect Whomever. They exist of necessity in people's simple minds. This enforces the ideal that unless you are perfectly in the clear, legal, sober, modest and in the right measure to societies expectations; you can expect to be labelled a something, or a such-other, and be offhandedly dismissed. No doubt, she knew the ref. would be rebuked. In the same respect you would be more 'PR' in remarking that she were hacking on these stories, than in calling her a hack. I can't see Ashley crying, "Boo hoo, Maurice called me a hack!" even if......Troll Power! Go Wayne Bennett!

    • Maurice E. Adams
      March 26, 2014 - 14:23

      Points well taken Trollz.