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Getting the Straight Poop: Times-Colonist Misleads Readers PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Friday, 11 November 2005 06:32
Getting the Straight Poop: Times-Colonist Misleads Readers

PEJ News - Jack Etkin - Sewage treatment is a big issue in the upcoming city elections and Victoria's daily newspaper is doing a good job of misinforming the citizenry.  In a democracy, people need full and honest information in order to be able to make intelligent decisions on our own behalf.  That is why the constant one-sided and incorrect information provided by the TC and other Corporate media on so many issues is both dangerous - and an affront to democracy.

www.pej.org

We Can't Trust the Times-Colonist
to Tell Us the Truth
Jack Etkin


PEJ News
Novermber 11, 2005
 
 
Wednesday's paper is headlined:  "Health czar: No benefit to sewage treatment".
The story is about comments made by the city's public health officer Dr. Richard Stanwyck. 
 
But Dr. Stanwyck doesn't actually say 'no benefit to sewage treatment' because he is not talking about the most important issue, which is the environmental impact of pouring tons of raw sewage into the ocean waters surrounding Victoria. 
Dr. Stanwyck is commenting only on the 'human health' issue, which at present is not known and is not a big issue, although it could certainly become a problem in the future as we continue to 'poop in our own bathwater'.
 
Now the Times Colonist is certainly not stupid.  It knows exactly what it is doing when it puts in a headline saying 'No benefit to sewage treatment' above a story that ignores the main and biggest issue about sewage treatment. 
I think the headline is written that way to deliberately mislead readers.  And this is common throughout the media on many issues of importance.  This is the Corporate media, and its job is corporate propaganda, and misleading the public is one of its most important jobs.
 
The story is also misleading on the cost of sewage treatment.  The story uses a 'highball' cost number to make sewage treatment seem a worse idea.
 
The story says:  "Stanwyck says the money to build a treatment plant - $477 million ..."  
We are not told if Stanwyck actually 'said' this number, but the TC does.  But this number is highly questionable, in fact it seems to have come out of thin air.  An engineer I met, who is working on this issue, says that he cannot get, from the CRD, the source that provided this $477 million figure.  This engineer has also costed treatment plants around  Canada and he believes the real cost number to be around $200 million.  But the TC story suggests that $477 million is a real and hard and exact scientific number - with no questions asked. 
 
The story then says that this $477 million could pay for a whole bunch of other necessary health projects.  So 'wouldn't the money be better spent elsewhere' is the obvious suggestion.  Funny that this suggestion is NEVER made regarding Corporate tax cuts.  We can always afford to spend money there - or on new highways, in fact there is no better use of money according to the Corporate media.  But sewage treatment 'provides no benefit' and is taking money away from more important things.
 
Also in the story is this interesting quote from Dr. Stanwyck.. -the current methods of sewage treatment.. "seemingly don't pose a (significant) risk to the health of the public."
 
So what is 'significant'?  And why is that word in brackets in the story?  What does this sentence really mean?  Is he really saying that the current treatment system may pose a significant risk .. ?
 
The main message seems to be that we should neither trust nor believe the Times Colonist.  And an even more important message is that we desperately need more free and independent media in this great country of ours.  We have to make this a priority and begin to spend some money on it...
 


Jack Etkin is a Victoria-based environmental and activist and media critic.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 November 2005 06:32
 

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