Thursday, November 8, 2012

Buddha would cry

By Jim Mosher

Were it not so common, I would cry. Instead, the laughter of Buddha seems more appropriate.

My circumstance is laughable.

There was no great surprise earlier today when I was fired — or ‘discontinued’, as one might say of freelance writers.

I lost my job because I can ‘no longer be trusted’. I was quoted in and wrote my thoughts on my blog at

My opinions hinged on the firing of Jill Winzoski, a fellow journalist and close friend.

I can cry for my friend Winzoski. She was canned, as all sources of which I’m aware make clear, because an MP interfered with her life. 

Selkirk-Interlake MP James Bezan said he would have nothing to do with Winzoski because, after signing an online petition, she, he said, had demonstrated her bias.

Mr. Bezan wrote in a Facebook post: “Due to my negative experience in dealing with Ms. Winzoski as a reporter, and her strongly stated opposition to the Government of Canada in which I serve as Member of Parliament, it is clear that I have to cease my interaction with The Selkirk Record and this biased and partisan reporter.”

Winzoski professes no particular political beliefs. The ‘partisan’ bit from Bezan is a non-starter.

In all, though, I cannot cry for myself nor Winzoski. 

It is rejuvenating to be terminated by someone who does not know a news story from a children’s grad.

It reminds me that I have not done my job — my ample, silly accolades notwithstanding.

I have been as lazy as most rural journalists have been. We have been, as I’ve written before, in the relentless pursuit of the obvious.

The time for ‘obvious’ is over.

That is where the rejuvenation comes to the fore. I am good at what I do — that’s writing.

My tens of thousands of stories attest to nothing. My next story is the world.

We will overcome. We will take that stage no one wants to walk upon. We — all of us — will walk with proud stride into that great hall of public opinion.

This new product, this newspaper I idealize will be driven by editorial content, not advertising. Its mission will be to produce the edgy copy we miss, much to my chagrin particularly because I have been part of its manufacture and marketing.

There is a grace in this world — one, as a friend remarked when he saved two boys from drowning but not others: a grace that surpasses all understanding.

(Yes. It is a biblical reference.)

We should not be off-put by such references nor should we allow the tawdry, ineffectual writing to which we, as journalists, have allowed you to be exposed.

‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds, admit impediments. Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.’ (Shakespeare.)

Let not this madness of scrawny truth and embellished lies be allowed to reek into our lives.

Winzoski has a final word or two.

“Keep your job, and keep your passions separate,” she said.


There’s a word.


  1. Just when my life seemed to be at it's bleakest a friend came up to me and said "Cheer up, it could be worse" So I cheered and, and indeed it did get worse.

    Sorry, I honestly don't know what to say to you and Jill other than I wish you both well, now and in the future - and as they say in the UK - keep your pecker up.

  2. Hi Jim,

    Any chance you could get me into contact with Jill? I'm a reporter for and I'd love to speak with her for a story. I think this is a really important issue.

    My email is


  3. Could it be? Have we finally rounded the corner? Is this the end of the craven lackey media?

    I understand you are good with words Jim, but for the benefit of others that may read this, lets look at some definitions.

    craven : lacking the least bit of courage : contemptibly fainthearted

    lackey : someone who does menial tasks or runs errands for another : a servile follower : toady

    For far too long those in power have been able to count upon their craven lackeys in the media to tell the stories that they were told to tell. For far too long the Canadian public has been kept in the dark because craven lackeys were too fearful to stand up and speak the words that needed to be spoken.

    Today we have radio active rain and Health Canada that has turned off radiation detection systems and suppressed reports of radiation contamination. Give it another year or two and the spike in cancer deaths will be covered up as well. The increased infant mortality has already been covered up.

    Today we are into year 11 of an illegal war of aggression that craven lackeys have supported with carefully spun lies. Today the Government of Canada supports terrorists as they use car bombs to destabilize the government of Syria. Our ministers whip the craven lackeys with terms like 'moral relativism' to keep them in line, to make sure they continue to support the war agenda.

    Today we have a Government of Canada that engages in the treason of allowing foreign police to operate on Canadian soil and craven lackeys are deployed to twist and confuse Canadians that are upset by this blatant betrayal.

    Today we have private corporations that frack the land and poison the water for generations to come. The craven lackeys tell us that this is a good trade since we will get a couple of dollars and a job or two.

    Jim, is it possible? Is it true? Is this the end of craven lackeys dominating the public discussion? Have the men and women that make up our media found their courage?

  4. All stations, publicly funded or not, want to maintain or expand their viewership. This is what I’ll call the elephant in the room.

    TV news is a curious medium. You don’t always know whose interests are being served – or ignored. Although bounded by certain federal regulations, most of what you see in a newscast is actually defined by an internal code – an editorial tradition handed down from one generation to the next – but the key is, it’s self-enforced. Various industry associations hear complaints and can issue recommendations, or reward exemplary work with prizes. There are also watchdogs with varying degrees of clout. But these entities have no enforcement capacity. Underneath this lies the fact that information is a commodity, and private TV networks are supposed to make money. All stations, publicly funded or not, want to maintain or expand their viewership. This is what I’ll call the elephant in the room.

    snip snip: "Now I want my opinions back."

    I have serious problems with the direction taken by Canadian policy and politics in the last five years. But as a reporter, I feel like I’ve been holding my breath.

    Every question I asked, every tweet I posted, and even what I said to other journalists and friends had to go through a filter, where my own opinions and values were carefully strained out.

    Even then I’m not sure I was always successful, but I always knew at the CBC and subsequently at CTV that there were serious consequences for editorial.

    Within the terms of my employment at CTV, there was a clause in which the corporation (now Bellmedia) literally took ownership of my intellectual property output. If I invented a better mouse trap, they owned the patent.

    And if I ever said anything out of line with my position as an “objective” TV reporter, they had grounds to fire me. I had a sinking feeling when I first read that clause, but I signed because I was 23 and I wanted the job.

    Now I want my opinions back.

  5. You no longer have reporters, you have repeaters.

    The new game began in Canada on Aug. 27, 1980. “Black Wednesday”, as it became known, was the day newspaper corporations across the country colluded to swap properties and kill competition. The Ottawa Journal and the Winnipeg Tribune folded, and Vancouver Province's owner, Southam, bought the Vancouver Sun. The two had been in bed together since 1950s via a press-and-profit-sharing agreement at Pacific Press that killed the third paper and defended against upstarts.

    Suddenly competition for readers was no longer necessary; these publicly traded corporations now focused on advertiser-pleasing copy as the technique for pulling more ads.

    At least Postmedia has an understandable reason for changing standards: they're legally obligated to maximize profits. But the fact that the commercial-free public broadcaster also ignores the public good suggests that there is a new definition of journalism.

  6. Asked to give a toast before the prestigious New York Press Club, John Swinton, the former Chief of Staff and editorial writer at the New York Times, made this candid confession at a banquet held in his honor in 1880, nearing the end of his career:

    "There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with.

    Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.

    The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell the country for his daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press. We are the tools and vassals of the rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men.

    We are intellectual prostitutes."

    [It's worth noting Swinton was called "The Dean of His Profession" by other newsmen, who admired him greatly]:

  7. Live to fight another day , we are all in this calamity together , those of us on this side of the Ocean that is! you never know what tomorrow brings , so soldier on , brush the dust off and pounce in the ring again