The ground is cracking under our feet as millions abandon faith in the Western democratic tradition in favour of decidedly anti-democratic values. What this means for journalism has come to matter to me because I’ve found myself in the peculiar position of defending the principles of democratic institutions, as if the media standing up for democracy’s foundation constitutes a bias against critically analyzing its machinations. At some point, it became fair game to drag journalists into the partisan mud for simply pointing out how our institutions are supposed to work. This is unwelcome. To that end, UBC prof. Stephen Ward wastes tons of our valuable time in “Ethical Journalism in a Populist Age,” literally tracing the clash between democratic and anti-democratic ideas back to the beginning of Western civilization. It would have sufficed to begin at the invention of the printing press or even the Enlightenment but instead, his 200-page book starts around page 115. The rest is good enough. If the attack on journalism looks to you like it’s a plot to make despotism unaccountable, Ward’s work is a warm blanket of reassurance. He argues it’s essential that journalistic bias be geared toward enforcing the values that are supposed to be upholding our society. Not the people, not the parties, not the laws or the regulations — the IDEALS that underpin democracy. Considering we have a federal election on the horizon, I’ve published some excerpts below that I think you might find valuable to judge political speech as on or off the spectrum of acceptable ideas… and if my writing “acceptable ideas” made you believe that I oppose free speech or you feel triggered about “political correctness,” check yourself. This is a pluralist, constitutional society you live in and if the press has to die on that hill, it won’t be the last to do so.
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A good beginning for a deep discussion.