Friday, November 04, 2016

Top Secret vs Oversight

The police spying on journalists in a democracy? A bit frightening.

I am a strong supporter of both the police and journalists, but reporters cannot do their job if they are expected to also be agents for the police. I can see police investigating journalists if they are suspected of wrong-doing, but spying on them to uncover sources or to investigate others' wrong-doings, is beyond acceptable.

With very few exceptions (such as in the case of child abuse), there are no Canadian laws* rewiring people to report criminal activity. Journalists who conceal sources or refuse to cooperate with law enforcement investigations are doing nothing illegal. (Remember the right to remain silent?)

Although both law enforcement officials and journalists are often seekers of justice, their roles are vastly different. Police do not issue public reports and commentary on their investigations and journalists don't arrest people.
The major role of investigative journalism is to protect rights and freedoms and ensure the accountability of those in power. It cannot fulfill that role if reporters are being spied on by the police.

The very deep problem with these case in Quebec, is that if people are not sure they can be an anonymous source of information about wrong-doing, if it becomes standard practice for police to spy on journalists thereby putting sources in danger of retribution or legal confrontation, information will dry up. We will never again learn about things like Duffy's expenses, the Sponsorship scandal, Premier Redford's palace or... Trump's great respect of women.

They say absolute power corrupts absolutely. With no media oversight, positions of political power, judicial power, law enforcement power, the power of the wealthy and of organized crime will go unchecked.

In my latest novel, OPERATION MAXTRACKER, my young protagonist raises the issue of what happens to a person's or an organization's moral  integrity when there's no media oversight.

Katrina's top secret project is going to put enormous power into someone's hands--and there's nobody out there monitoring its use.


"I was inexorably drawn into this dark and claustrophobic world of coercion, mysterious antagonisms and deep mistrust." ~Gilli Allan, author of Fly or Fall

Eileen Schuh, Author


Schrӧdinger's Cat

No comments: