Social media leaves us no time for sober second thought

How do you manage a crisis with little time between the story going public and reporters calling?

Social media leaves us no time for sober second thought“I’m on deadline!” the harried journalist yells. This is a euphemism for “I’m very busy.” There were also literal deadlines. An old-fashioned newspaper went “to bed” because the printing press was bolted to the floor on what was called the “bed.” The presses started running in time to get the newspaper out the door. It…

Has media literacy led us down the path to partisanship?

Telling someone to "do the research" may in fact do more harm than good

Has media literacy led us down the path to partisanship?The expression that beauty, or art, is in the eye of the beholder means that it’s the viewer who decides. The same is true of the beholder of news stories. More simply, new research shows us, again, that news consumers see what they want to see. The latest research data comes from the ongoing conflict…

Constant interruption leading to lower IQs

We are paying the price in degraded focus for constantly being on our devices

Constant interruption leading to lower IQsThe pandemic has brought on new debates about the nature of work. We’ve seen fads over the decades – the predicted four-day workweek, sabbaticals, job sharing, full-time part-time, hotelling, working from home, and now hybrid work. All are euphemisms for not working 37.5 hours per week in an office. Seamless work really means you’re always…

Communication by device is not really communication

It has dulled our ability to have face to face relationships

Communication by device is not really communicationSomething is happening to human communication because of our reliance on technology. Technology is a mediating force – getting in between actual humans and their interaction. Technology also affects us physically and mentally. If you work on a computer all day, you are susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome and a stiff neck. Use a hand-held…

Why do some people hold extremist views?

Exposure to material that advocates violence and extremism likely leads to it

Why do some people hold extremist views?When General Edwin A. Walker was fired, the evidence against him was very clear. He had been distributing right-wing John Birch Society (JBS) pamphlets implying that his President – John F. Kennedy – was a traitor. General Walker fought with former President Dwight D. Eisenhower over school integration too. The John Birch Society accused Eisenhower…

Clearing the fog, and friction, of war

Public statements disclosing our intentions not to engage in an actual war were stupid

Clearing the fog, and friction, of warWhat if the following occurred at a Prime Ministerial news conference? Reporter #1: Prime Minister, there are reports that most or all of our ships at CFB Esquimalt on the west coast have left port. Can you tell me where they’re headed? PM Trudeau: This is a normal military action. Ships must leave port regularly…

Our democracy is complacent and ineffectual

Canadian deterrence simply consists of heavy breathing from Trudeau

Our democracy is complacent and ineffectualThose who worry about hyperbolic accusations of an authoritarian government in Canada because of recent events need not worry. Wouldn’t an authoritarian government have been better able to direct police to prepare for the truckers’ convoy and related protests? They did, after all, have a month’s notice. Ottawa's ineffectiveness proves we don’t have totalitarian tendencies…

Most security measures are just for show

The “theatre” of security is not actual security

Most security measures are just for showIn the current Canadian Freedom Convoy emergency, it’s important to remember that we have the “theatre” of security, not actual security. We have badges, signs, uniforms, guns, scans, and pat-downs. We’re told to say something if we see something but are not told what to look for or whom to tell. This theatre accomplishes less…

Western intelligence’s failures should come as no surprise

They've rarely been any good at predicting the future

Western intelligence’s failures should come as no surpriseIt’s surprising how surprised many commentators are about quite unsurprising events during this Canadian emergency. Our security and intelligence systems were so focused on international terrorism they were caught unawares by domestic threats, such as the truckers’ convey and protests. Before shouting “Stop the presses!” it’s worth seeing how recent events fit in with the…

Inherent Indigenous rights are not a gift from government

Supreme Court: “persons who are not Canadian citizens and who do not reside in Canada can exercise an Aboriginal right”

Inherent Indigenous rights are not a gift from governmentThe Supreme Court of Canada has begun to repair the hundreds of years of friction between Indigenous people and European settlers. The court recently ruled that “persons who are not Canadian citizens and who do not reside in Canada can exercise an Aboriginal right.” Many people are thinking long and hard about the implications. Imagine…

Don’t turn news conferences into Hollywood productions

The camera doesn’t doesn’t lie. The stuffed characters behind the head of government in COVID news conferences are always on

Don’t turn news conferences into Hollywood productionsWho are those people standing behind the newsmaker at press conferences? I see them in the hallways of legislatures when the party leader is making an announcement. I see them in a studio behind the head of government during a COVID-19 news conference. “Oh,” you say, “they’re showing that governing is a team effort and…

Why can’t politicians manage press conferences?

Isn’t it time politicians learned to simulate a real-life encounter with people who have questions?

Why can’t politicians manage press conferences?Head of government: “… and so stay safe.” (Long pause.) Robotic voice: “Our next caller is Scoop Notepad from the Daily Planet.” Scoop: “Hi.” Head of government: “Hi Scoop.” (Pause. Sometimes the greetings are reversed.) Scoop asks a question, head of government responds and then we hear the oddball, robotic voice again. Who is that?…

We need clarity to conquer COVID-19

The mere act of informing the public and mandating certain actions seems to still bedevil politicians and public-policy practitioners

We need clarity to conquer COVID-19By Derek Ng, Deborah Prabhu and Allan Bonner Contributors “Pandemics are a magnifying glass that sheds light on social conditions,” says May-Brith Ohman Nielsen, professor of history at the University of Agder in Norway. Pandemics lay bare the failures of a country’s organization and capacity that went unnoticed during uneventful times. Conflicting policies, staff vacancies,…