Don't Beguile, Don't Be BeguiledFriday, December 02, 2011
|Never accept a present from a politician that cannot be consumed at one sitting. The thing to tell a politician is this: if it’s a gift it’s too much; if it’s a bribe it’s not enough.
One of the singular pleasures of living in Canada is to be able to listen, every once in a while to the excellent CBC Radio program Ideas with Paul Kennedy (I would buy many used cars from this man because of his voice). Tonight I listened to Neil Reynolds, columnist for the Globe and Mail, and former editor-in-chief of the Vancouver Sun and the Ottawa Citizen, deliver his 2011 Dalton Camp Lecture in Journalism at St. Thomas University in Fredericton (available as a podcast on December 26) .
This is the sort of intelligent programming that five minutes of watching CNN, becomes to my mind by comparison even more intelligent, unless of course I think backwards and simply say that CNN is just plain stupid.
I listened to every word of Reynold’s and I experienced many of those aha! moments. Reynolds named his lecture The Last Commandment: Thou Shall Not Beguile. He admitted the print newspaper is down, but not out. It remains a close friend to hundreds of millions of people around the world - every day. Yet it is threatened on two fronts: its ability to adapt profitably to 21st century technology, and its declining trust-worthiness: Only 30 percent of Canadians trust journalists - and it's not clear whether they are the readers who have quit or the readers who remain. The key to his lecture was his emphasis that to increase trust, there must be an end to anonymous sources. He also reiterated that good print newspapers should not be in the business of attempting to compete with TV or digital media. They are not that.
At the end Reynolds quoted from Allan Fotheringham’s (a man I photographed several times in past years including here for the October 1995 Toronto Life) latest book Boy From Nowhere - Life in Ninety-One Countries that a young person wanting to be a journalist should not quote a liar. Reynolds then, in a brilliant little nutshell of a statement, added this:
Don’t beguile, don’t be beguiled.
Stay away from journalism schools. You can’t teach journalism more than you can teach how to make love. You either got it or you ain’t.