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Opponents of Kinder Morgan pipeline call out media's false equivalency in coverage of demonstrations PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow
Monday, 12 March 2018 20:58

by Charlie Smith  Georgia Strait

on March 12th, 2018 at 4:32 PM

 

  • This was the scene in Burnaby on Saturday (March 10).
 
  • This was the scene in Burnaby on Saturday (March 10). Mike Hudema

There's an unusual clarification at the bottom of a recent CBC News web story about two pipeline demonstrations in Metro Vancouver.

"A previous version of this story gave coverage to the pro-pipeline rally that was disproportionate based on the number of people who attended it," the tagline states. "The story has been updated to more accurately reflect both sides of the debate."

On Saturday, pro-pipeline forces rounded up about 200 people to come to Jack Poole Plaza to express support for Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project. Some were brought in from Alberta and northeastern B.C.

It occurred on the same day that several thousand people gathered in Burnaby to oppose the project.

Some clever spin doctors likely dreamed up this tactic of holding a pro-pipeline demo downtown so they would generate media coverage to offset the much larger protest in Burnaby.

It worked. Broadcast outlets, including CBC, ran the "duelling demonstration" stories side-by-side.

This occurred even though the number of participants at each rally wasn't even close.

It created a false equivalency in the minds of viewers and listeners, which generated a backlash on social media.

CBC has since responded by running a clarification. The public broadcaster deserves credit for addressing the issue.

But by that point, the pro-pipeline forces had already achieved their objective.

There's another way of covering the pipeline project

Rather than getting caught up in writing pro- or anti- demonstration stories on Saturday, I chose instead to focus on the one issue that the mainstream media is largely overlooking in its Kinder Morgan coverage: climate change.

It's shocking how little attention this receives in all the column inches and airtime devoted to the project.

Greenhouse gas emissions associated with the pipeline just don't seem to interest most journalists, particularly in central Canada.

This is despite last year's record forest-fire season in B.C., massive flooding in the Okanagan, weird rainfall patterns in Ontario, and gigantic hurricanes pounding Houston and Florida. Are they oblivious to this? Simply stupid? In denial? Or too worried that if they talk about climate change, they'll attract the wrath of their bosses?

My commentary carried this title: "Protect the Inlet is really about preventing future generations from enduring climate hell".

Those who want the pipeline to be completed, including Alberta premier Rachel Notley, might say that this is a one-sided way of looking at this issue.

But unfortunately for them, there's no false equivalency with climate change.

It's happening and it's likely going to kill a lot of people around the world this year.

It's time the media started educating people about this.

 

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