Right in the centre - On a number of points


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

It’s been a while since I have written a point by point column, but this week, there just seems to be a few issues that may deserve a few words each.

•Some people are quick to judge a whole community by the toxic actions of a few. The term “racist” gets tossed around pretty quickly when a single person or a very small group of people say something ignorant, such as may have been said at a minor hockey game at Neepawa. Or a year or so ago, when some would-be graffiti artist(s) defaced some buildings in Neepawa, the racist term got thrown out pretty quickly too. I have no doubt that racist words have been tossed out in hockey arenas across Canada from time to time. It doesn’t mean that communities are racist. In the Neepawa [minor hockey peewee] game, with the visiting Waywayseecappo team, it was reported to me that racist comments flew both directions. If anything racist was said by players or fans from either team, the solution is pretty simple. Stop it! All people and all communities face real problems and real struggles. We don’t have time for racism.

•It still surprises me how easy it seems to be to accept gossip as truth and assumptions as facts. When you look at the world today, with the flood of information that comes flying at us, it is pretty scary that people can write anything they want about anybody and not back it up or attribute it to any source. Fake news is a real thing, ironically. I am not talking about honest errors in reporting. I am talking about how political or ideological agendas seem to be able to justify saying anything to advance their agenda or ideology. Worse yet, there are those who deliberately deceive and think it is a big joke. I find that destructive and not at all amusing.

• Newspapers and TV stations have downgraded their journalistic standards a long way in recent years. It used to be that there was a definitive line between news and opinion. That line has been largely erased, either inadvertently by weakened standards or worse yet, perhaps by design. Here’s what I mean. If a politician visits a town the news would be, “Member of parliament visits Rapid City” or “Local MP attends town hall meeting.” Opinion would be “MP appears desperate for votes as he is attending small towns.” However, it is not uncommon today to see the latter kind of statement in a news story and in the words of the reporter.

If the “desperate for votes” comment was made by a political opponent or by the mayor of the town and they are willing to be quoted or said it publicly, then it falls into the news category.

•This piece of writing is a column, it is an opinion or a collection of opinions. You can agree with it or not, it is your choice. A reader, or a TV viewer, should not be left guessing about what is news and what is opinion. 

• Our country and our communities are worse off than in years past because much of what we read and hear is lacking in facts and truth. Much of what we read and hear is opinion and that is OK, as long as we realize it is just that, an opinion. 

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer president of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.