On this we can agree: Ezra Levant is not a reporter. He has said so himself. “I’m a commentator. I’m a pundit,” he testified in 2014 while defending himself in a libel case he happened to lose. “I don’t think in my entire life I’ve ever called myself a reporter.”
That’s why the Rachel Notley government barred those who write for Levant’s conservative propaganda website, The Rebel, from attending government media events. Government lawyer Jason Fung spelled it out: those who work for The Rebel are not journalists.
The ban didn’t last long. After enduring two days of criticism from free-press advocates including The Globe and Mail, the Notley government did an about-face, admitted a mistake, and said The Rebel was welcome to attend government events while the government reviews its media policies.
But the change of heart didn’t change one fundamental fact. Ezra Levant is still not a reporter. Neither are those who write for his website. They identify themselves as “commentators.” They make no attempt to offer objective takes on the stories they cover. They are unapologetically partisan, pay little attention to such journalistic standards as fairness, accuracy or balance, abide by no code of journalistic ethics, and have no affiliation with regulatory media councils. They answer to nobody but themselves.
All it takes for someone to become one of these so-called social media citizen journalists is to gain access to a computer and a blog. That’s like a guy putting on a white coat, picking up a stethoscope, and passing himself off as a doctor. It may make for an impressive image but it’s still a sham.
So should the Notley government reimpose the ban on The Rebel after it completes its three-week review of media policies? Absolutely not. Readers, viewers and listeners are not stupid. They can quickly tell the difference between professional journalism and the stuff produced by amateurs. If The Rebel is able to offer a different – and credible – assessment of the Notley government’s political performance from that now being offered by the roster of non-progressive columnists dominating the editorial and op-ed pages of the province, all power to it.
But I doubt it.Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 Brian Brennan - Writer