Re: “Nelson invaded by a virus,” February 1
I think it’s pretty appalling that Calgary Herald reporter Ric Dolphin defended his article by saying, “I’m not saying everybody’s like that, but on a whirlwind visit, which is what I do, you kind of focus on what sticks out.” This is a huge problem in media — generalizing very specific aspects of people and place and passing them to the public as “reality” — especially when it’s passed off as journalism or a news story.
I’m an editor in the travel media industry where this problem is arguably most prevalent, where media producers visit a place with preconceived notions or, as Dolphin said, “focus on what sticks out,” and caricaturize people/place/culture; all they do is perpetuate stereotypes; in the worst-case offenses they perpetuate fear and ignorance. This is a disservice to everyone involved, the subject(s) of the story and the readers of the story.
This is what bothered me most about Elizabeth Hames’ National Post article, that she came to Nelson with her own stereotypes of the place and judged the town and its people by her experiences over a whopping three day visit. As for the article itself, I have no problem with it. As Bob Hall said, everyone is free to voice their opinions; what the issue is here is that it was published in the wrong area. This was an op-ed not a journalistic report. At best this should have been in the editorial section; perhaps it should have stayed on her personal blog.
As quoted from the Star editorial of February 1, “the voices of discussion are the voices of change.” Yes, but there is still a moral obligation to begin these discussions with integrity. The end doesn’t always justify the means.