2010 Freebies: Media MUST Come Clean

The Games are almost upon us.  And yes, I am getting a bit pumped for the competitions.

As someone who is athletically-challenged, to put it kindly, I always marvel at the abilities, skills and even the bravado of those so gifted or so disciplined and developed to excel in sports: whether it’s in hockey, football, soccer, martial arts, figure skating or even skateboarding.

So now that I’m retired, I will be watching these Games a lot more than in the past .. and enjoy them too.  And I want my city, my province and my country to shine.

But as a longtime  journalist, I also want to see it all fairly reported and commented upon … not only the events themselves, but everything else that surrounds them.

Spare me the shilling, the false promos and wild superlatives, the whitewashed perspectives … and any VANOC bought-for or paid-for media whoring.

So I need to be assured the media are not on the take. And I believe the B.C. and Canadian public deserve that too.

I was already made uncomfortable when seeing “news” reporters,  anchors or commentators beaming and gushing about carrying the torch.

And I realize this concern poses special problems for CTV, being the host broadcaster.  I hope they know that using their “news” staff to just automatically pump up, promote or shill or fawn over the Games and  their coverage will cheapen, not enhance, their broadcast and the reputation of any of their staff, dancing on a string.

And all media can be  susceptible to Olympic-sized temptations!

To ensure a “clean” Games from a journalistic point of view, I believe the media MUST come clean beforehand.

Has VANOC or Games sponsors provided any free passes to simply VIEW (not professionally cover) events for any media staff: whether executives, managers, staff  or their family members and friends?

Has VANOC or Games sponsors  assisted (even if they paid for them) any media executives, managers, staff or family members and friends to obtain TICKETS to any sporting events or social gatherings?

Have VANOC or Games sponsors provided ANY KIND  OF FREEBIES to media members???  ANY KIND OF FREEBIES!

Have any government bodies, Crown agencies,  companies  or individuals provided any FREEBIES related to the Games to media members or assisted in obtaining TICKETS to any events?

The media must come clean!

As they often say to government (or at least used to) the public have a right to know. I’d be happy to let them use this forum to assure their readers, viewers and listeners to know the answers to these questions.

Or better yet … they should protect their own reputations, and the integrity of their own coverage,   by assuring the public on their own medium before the Games begin!

Silence would be quite worrisome.

Harv Oberfeld

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24 Responses to 2010 Freebies: Media MUST Come Clean

  1. bewlay says:

    As I have stated for a long time now there is a perceived conflict interest within the media and if the CRTC wants to show their worthiness they need to have a conflict of interest mechanism. Where media must report on all gifts, trinkets, glasses of wine beer and spirits, right down to the smallest of pieces of brie. Also who they are doing contract and consultation work for if any needs to be on the list. It has been obvious for a long time that certain media giants are cheerleading all the way to the corporate box under the guise of journalism. Quick to condemn others who investigate themselves these types seem to be operating in a vacuum of complacency and deliberate neglect, transparency and accountability for everyone but themselves seems to be the norm.

  2. Lynn says:

    I think we are all going to receive an Olympic sized gift at the end of the games in the form of a massive tax hike! Enjoy the cake while lasts.

    (Response: Well, that’s one gift for which I will NOT send a Thank You note! h.o.)

  3. Norm Farrell says:

    Transparency in Sport has reported extensively on what they call the “Olympic Reporter’s Secret Club.” (“One local newspaper reporter” …edited for legal reasons h.o.) is a member and has had a business relationship with the IOC.

    The Olympic organization is well practiced at gaining favors from the media. I’ve blogged about it here:


  4. A Dave says:

    Wow, Norman, that’s quite a sickening story. I felt fleeced before, but now I feel like my skin was removed too!

    Harvey, there’s no question this SHOULD happen. But the likelihood it WILL happen is from zip to nil. The Liberals have vacated the post of privacy and information commissioner right before the Olympics, dealing “openess and transparency” another huge blow, and effectively shutting down FOI requests for the foreseeable future, and just in time for the Olympics. But I’ve only seen a few inches of journalism reporting it. Funny, because FOI requests are one of the key tools to investigative reporting these days, are they not? Shouldn’t any journalist worth his/her weight in salt be screaming bloody murder about this?!

    (Response; I hear an interim replacement has now been named. h.o.)

  5. Genuine says:

    We”ve been saying this for years Harvey “FINALLY” I, can see the outrage in you’re writing, what took you?

    (Response; Because the media have changed: years ago you would never see reporters and anchors PARTICIPATING in promotional events for anything they were covering, and there were very STRICT guidelines prohibiting accepting ANY freebies … rules I hear are no longer followed to the letter … or, in some cases, hardly at all. h.o)

  6. Mike Cleaver says:

    CTV and Rogers sold their souls to Vanoc when they became official sponsors and exclusive broadcasters for the games, paying huge sums for the privilege.
    I’ve written before about the complete lack of journalistic ethics of these two companies when it comes to anything to do with the games.
    Having your reporters and anchors run in the torch relay is shameless hucksterism.
    How can you trust them to view anything games related in an unbiased manner?
    It’s shameful that Robert Hurst and whomever is running Rogers News operations these days permitted their staff members to become involved in this circus.
    The public now has no reason to trust the accuracy and authenticity of any reporting done by those who sacrificed their impartiality on the altar of crass commercialism.

    (Response: When I blogged about media types running in the torch relay, CTV’s Hurst assured me the news would not shy away from unflattering news stories re the Olympics. Certainly tonight they had a good one… on taxis having no idea where Olympic venues are located. As host broadcasters, their role is different, but their standards should not be. They know everyone is viewing them with a critical eye. h.o.)

  7. Crankypants says:

    I suspect that the only unbiased news coverage of these games will come courtesy of the foreign media.

    The torch relay did encounter protesters along it’s route, and CTV and our Canwest printed media pretty much ignored them. Global television did give some cursory coverage of some protests, but that was very limited. I can’t see things changing going forward.

    Yes, CTV did do an expose on the lack of Vancouver taxi drivers knowledge of the locations of some of the olympic sites, but what about Translink’s proposed schedules for the various rapid transit lines. Vancouver will be basically be open for business 24/7 while our transit system will not. If our various skytrain lines are so fragile that they cannot run 24 hours a day for a little over two weeks, then I think that we settled on the wrong system back in the 80’s.

    Bottom line is that if you want the sport side of the olympic coverage then tune into CTV and its partners, and if you want news coverage then think international. The locals will find it too hard to diss the hand that feeds them.

    (Response: I disagree. International media is also largely on a downhill slide. Have you ever seen how Americans cover international sporting events or anything else? Ugh! And I doubt the Brits or the French or the Russians … and certainly not the Chinese … will do any better. The craft is in trouble, with massive corporate ownership and/or political ideology colouring the results. But by exposing it here and elsewhere whenever we can, I believe we at least keep them a bit more on their toes than if we said nothing. h.o.)

  8. RS says:

    The openess — or lack thereof — in sport is akin to governments’ promises of accountability, openness and transparency.
    It’s really quite simple. Where there’s so much money involved to seduce and beguile — ethics and integrity are corrupted by incentives, inducements and bribes. The word avarice comes to mind.

  9. Kim says:

    I think sports are used by the corporate media to divert attention from actual news, and that sports and other celebrity figures are allowed to be paid ridiculous amounts of money so that politicians and CEO’s can hold us up for similar pay packages.

  10. Norm Farrell says:

    May I recommend an excellent speech by Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger about the international future of journalism.

    I provide a taste of it and a link here:


  11. DMJ says:

    Just a note for Crankypants, re SkyTrain & RAV/Canada Line schedules:

    SkyTrain and RAV are full automated (driverless) metro systems and as such have very delicate and complicating signaling. This means both metro systems must be shut for at least four to five hours each day to ensure signaling is operative and to do preventative maintenance.

    This true of all automatic metros.

    This is why SkyTrain’s and the Canada Line’s operating costs are much higher than comparative LRT lines.

    LRT, with drivers do not need such complicated signaling and do not need daily expensive preventative maintenance programs . Where there is demand, LRT will run 24 hours a day with no problems and does in many cities around the world.

  12. Henri Paul says:

    Really Harv, what ever largess the media reporters, anchors or commentators are getting is dick ,when you consider all the colossal waste of money that has disappear into a black hole, and will continue for years due to this extravagant referred to as olympics.
    The government along with van cock have conned all those folks plus many more, every thing this organization does is a well plotted script.
    Cost is of no consequence, when you waste and spend someones else’s money.
    I hope it warms right up and pisses rain the whole month of February.
    Then sit back and watch the merde hit the fan when March comes.

    (Response: It’s not the $$$ value I am concerned about: it’s because people in the news business should NOT ever be on the take from those they cover. Very serious ethical problems. h.o)

  13. Henri Paul says:

    Harv said, people in the news business should NOT ever be on the take from those they cover. Very serious ethical problems. h.o.
    I agree, but they have been snow jobbed by professional con artist. Just as the following were.
    When the torch went to Penticton the other day, didn’t Stock-well give the Penticton Indian band 5 million bucks hush money, as they were upset the torch relay was omitted from their reserve.

    (Response: Did he say that was the reason? LOL! It also isn’t going down my street ..how much can I get? (No ethical problem …i’m retired 🙂 h.o.)

  14. Norm Farrell says:

    Anyone notice that Global TV News Hour presented a segment describing our wonderfully clean modern oil industry?

    It was presented as if it was a news report, not a commercial. That only became clear when the end titles announced it, and a newspaper campaign to follow, is brought to us by SHELL, in cooperation with GLOBAL.

    I find this intentional blurring of the lines between editorial and advertising to be unethical. It is unworthy of what claims to be the best news operation in town.

    (Response: Didn’t see the show tonight …Sounds awful. By the way, still waiting for the media (any of them) to officially and publicly state whether they are wallowing in free tickets and passes to Olympic events or celebrations. They don’t owe it to ME to say so ..but they DO owe it to their readers, listeners and viewers, especially if they are doing stories about others getting freebies. h.o.)

  15. Leah says:

    Well Harv, this one’s really gonna make your day! I can just see the pretty shade of purple on your face already.


    This is a brand new level of low…even for CanWest.

    (Response: See my response to Olivia on the same topic … I am NOT impressed. But have become so used to the slippage in this area ..not going purple any more! h.o.)

  16. Henri Paul says:

    Harv said Jan 28, 2010 at 12:50 am
    It also isn’t going down my street ..how much can I get?
    That wasn’t my point, or issue, someone reneged on the deal with the band.
    My point being,as there has been such an obscene amount of monies spent (wasted) on these olympics, and obviously monies is of no consequence’s for this party for the elites.
    The Penticton Band missed a golden opportunity, upon being offered 5 mill, they should have put out the other hand thereby having the peace offering doubled , and requested ( demanded) tickets for all their members on the reserve to see all the olympic events,it was theirs for the taking.

  17. Olivia says:

    Mr Oberfeld, just wondering how you feel about the Sun/Province newspapers sponsoring a government-run centre that will tell the international media covering the 2010 Olympics about how the province is dealing with homelessness in the DTES? Read about it on the Tyee or Private Eye Online by Sean Holman. Independant media??? UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! Consensual government run media!!

    (Response: The relationship between government and the media has always been tenuous: look at all the government ads that run in the media … they all make a killiing during elections etc. And what about Corporations (like Toyota) that runs HUGE ads and then the media cover their problems etc. So it goes on all the time: the key is HOW INDEPENDENT is the newsroom from management, promo and sales departments. In BCTV’s hayday we had FANTASTIC freedom (I remember the Dirty Tricks scandal; the Woodwards firings; the Waste Management regional recycling series that lost them a $28 million contract and won me a Webster) not interference at all. Not sure we could … or would… do those stories today!! But sponsoring/co-operation from non -news departments doesnt really shock me ..but this one, dealing with how government is handling specific problems does bother me and will further hurt the media’s current image. . h.o)

  18. Norm Farrell says:

    At least we have sites like this and other quality blogs, The Tyee and other spots to bring us the rest of the story. That Guardian Editor that I referenced (#10) points out that newspapers, when they try to limit the flow of information, are doing themselves the ultimate disservice by eliminating the trust of their readers. As has been said before, when the newspapers stopped being essential, they lost their economic power. When they cease being desirable, they disappear. When new owners emerge for the local press, let us hope they owe first allegiance to readers and the community at large, not the vested interests that Canwest Global obliges. We need more media owners like Frank & Emily Griffiths.

    By the way, I stumbled across this today. Its worth a look, I think.


    (Response: Well, I’d agree with you on Frank. But in my view it was on Emily’s “watch” that the the destruction of all the glory and the quality that BCTV once stood for began: fattening up the company’s shares took place, with dozens of people being fired to cut costs, some areas of the company being gutted … but share values more than doubled,and although I have no access to her books (LOL!) I hear she made about $800 million, possibly even tax free, from the ultimate selloff of all that Frank (and Art) had built. h.o)

  19. SharingIsGood says:

    Hi Harv and Olivia,

    RE: CanWest papers sponsoring government propaganda. Yep, it is less than arm’s reach. Yep, it is scandalous.

    Perhaps, with your connections, you can help me figure something out Harv; now that CanWest is in receivership, do not the banks own them? If the banks own them, who is in charge of Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province editorial/sponsorship policy? What executive is calling the shots, and for whom does he work… the millions of Canadian bank patrons? the bank executives/directors? the BC Liberal Party and its Lord Gord? the propaganda wing of the BC Liberal government – PAB? Who is charged with making these kinds of unethical decisions?

    (Response: Thankfully I have never had to worry about bancruptcy machinations! As for CanWest, I understand them to be in bancruptcy protection ..not actually bancrupt. Under bp the court gets involved and tries to assist in a solution between the company and its creditors, which may include banks as well as other lenders. But CanWest is still RUN by CanWest … the creditors have enough worries about whether they’re going to get all or any of their money back …and I doubt have any interest or position to start runnning internal editoria control … yet. h..o)

  20. patrick bell (NOT THE MLA) says:

    Don’t know if you folks caught this beauty on Sports Illustrated about our beloved games…


  21. SharingIsGood says:

    Thanks for clearing up who is in charge, Harvey. I understand that the banks would want to do what they do best: creating money where none exists to lend to multinational corporations so that the corporations may continue the monopoly game being played upon the backs of average workers. I get that. I get it that the big players need the newspapers to market their products and to make the public believe that what they are doing is in the public’s best interest – like damming and diverting large quantities of water great distances from wild salmon rivers for creating “Green” energy for which we will be overpaying for years.

    What I don’t get is that I would feel absolutely awful about lending $4 billion to a corporation that repeatedly cheerleads for governments that deceive the Canadian public about what our governments (provincial and national) are doing. Where are their ethics?

    Ethics aside, even as a business practice, the public (in an educated society) eventually catches on and they quit buying the product. Even though CanWest-Global enjoys huge monopolis control over the print media across most of Canada, the people are leaving them. Such is also the case with Harper; the small “c” Conservatives are no longer buying the proroguing shenanigans. No amount of good optics on Haiti nor interviews with Gates and Clinton at the economic summit are going to dampen the image of their (minority) leader cutting and running a second time when he has to face troubling issues.

    It is time to bust up the radio, TV, cable and newspaper monopolies in Canada. They are too powerful, and they have become contemptuous toward the public who gave them their power.

  22. Henri Paul says:

    SharingIsGood // Jan 29, 2010 at 5:42 pm
    It is time to bust up the radio, TV, cable and newspaper monopolies in Canada. They are too powerful, and they have become contemptuous toward the public who gave them their power.
    Give credit where its do on that one, your big “L”
    and little “l” liberals, the same bunch who are also soft on crime.

  23. SharingIsGood says:

    Henry Paul ,

    Thought I lose no love for the Liberal nor the Conservative parties of whatever various flavours they may be had, I believe that I/we must take some responsibilities for the actions of those in power. In a capitalist system, we vote with our wallets. Though I have given up the daily papers and just about all radio but CBC, I still watch cable TV and use cable Internet. I buy their BS.

  24. StandUpforBC says:

    Harvey, would you comment on, or do an article about, the curious media silence regarding ex-Privacy Commissioner Loukedelis’ defection to become Gordon Campbell’s lieutenant as Deputy Minister of the Attorney-General’s office? Mr. Loukedelis was finalizing a report on the government’s privacy/freedom of information system. Now, he will be in a position to refuse requests made to the government for information about government operations.

    Meaningful investigative journalism lives and dies by the ability of reporters to get information. Yet, apart from wondering why Gordon Campbell hadn’t bothered to appoint an acting PC which left the office unable to act, the media has been virtually silent. The lack of any serious, sustained attention by the media to this subject is so disturbing. Our society is being hollowed out before our very eyes.

    Regarding our “rights” to information, I would like to recommend this article that came out three weeks ago in the Kamloops Daily News (but not picked up at all by the majors).


    The article states how the Interior Health Authority was able to obtain a permanent ban on a video showing care facility staff abusing an elderly man. This ban is so draconian that no one is allowed to even describe the contents of the video! The man’s family was so harassed, and intimidated (by taxpayer funded lawyers) that they have left the province.

    The reason given by the Health Authority for seeking the permanent ban was to protect staff privacy. Seriously. Apparently staff privacy trumps the safety and rights of an elderly person in care. Police, the Ministry of Health, Attorney-General, and the courts all looked the other way. A crime (supposedly of such a horrendous nature that no one should see it, or even have it described) was allowed to be committed.

    This is the future we can look forward to in BC if we all just throw up our hands and say “Not my responsibility.” We in BC are doomed to become, and perhaps already are, a society of monsters, where police and health “care” facility staff abuse innocent parties with impunity, using their powers to engage in (literally) unspeakably awful acts.

    But hey, let’s party on like there’s no tomorrow – and that’s just what we’ll get (if we’re lucky). If we’re unlucky we’ll be locked in a facility with staff who have their own ideas of partying.

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