Starting over in a Post-Journalism World, Part Twenty-Two.

The CBC is musing about the onset of “cannabis beats” in the dead profession of journalism, noticing that neither cigarettes nor alcohol ever had such beats, but then again, those were the days where journalism was thing, and now it isn’t, meaning the zombies are trying to reel in a live one to feast on.

The “stories” from those in these beats are presented with a highly naive lens that paints a rosy picture and the scribes are more salesmen for the drug than actual reporters. There is no critical thinking, and the coverage is of the same ilk as the fanboy positive press of the comic book industry. No critical thinking or actual research because people are too afraid they will come off as fuddy duddies and nerds if they point out the problems.

And there are plenty of problems up ahead. With so many Canadian farmers switching to cannabis crops, the price and availability of fruits and vegetables will become an issue. If India, China, or the US enter the market, Canada will be decimated and quickly with no back up plan. If there is actual money to be made, Canadians will not be the ones making it.

We do not own our beer stores, bridges, toll roads, wheat boards, and many other things that are assumed to be Canadian. The biggest problem with the legalization of cannabis is that the prime customers are always underage, and I have yet to meet someone who just does one drug. The illegal market can undercut easily and have a better selection than the one that you have to pay tax and follow stifling governmental rules. Cigarettes are far cheaper on native reserves and that’s where people get their smokes. The legal and health ramifications are the least of it.

Mind you, we do have an opioid epidemic in Canada, and that hints at something more significant, and not that people become addicted to other drugs so much as that one softcore drug being legal isn’t as impressive to people as the hardocre ones.

The spike we are seeing from cannabis overdoses also points to collective ignorance because of the oversell of the perky weed narrative. Weed has been shilled as some sort of harmless drug, which it isn’t. If you can overdose on something as benign as water, you can overdose on drugs.

But there too much short-sightedness in the name of trying to look liberal, hip, and open-minded. Journalism was never supposed to be about advocating, but merely relaying information, and sticking to facts.

And to ask questions.

Not to try to look as hip as your grandkids.

Weed has always been the drug of choice to sooth the middle class and suppress their rage at their mundane and tedious existence at shopping malls and contrived family get-togethers where you have smile in pictures with the uncle who molested you and the wife who is cheating on you with your obnoxious boss. It is the apathy cigarette to help them cope with brainlessly following authority’s rules and decrees because they cannot stand up to others or know who the hell they really are and what they actually want in life.

It is also the drug for journalists who wanted to be rich, famous, and envied, but settled for the middling and mundane life of a lousy pay check, no job security, an abusive boss, and being forced by their own conniving nature to marry someone with a bigger wage to support them in a profession that has collapsed. It’s why there is suddenly an advertorial cannabis beat in a profession that, like the rest of the country, thinks that weed alone is going to save them from themselves.

Like any other drug, there is a short and fleeting high, followed by that crash. You need more, but get less, and all of your problems and personal shortcomings don’t go away, and the dysfunction and chaos goes on even as you tune out.

I do not see some sort of Apocalypse happening, even if Canadians are dropping like flies from opioid overdoses where the solution is to merely keep feeding the habit at “safe” injection sites. I do see that this is a country that does not take negative news very well, or ever admit an error in judgement, and when someone else easily bests us, I do see panic coming in that the smug, simple, and easy passive solution that everyone banked on to save everything didn’t do its magic trick, and that isn’t as far off as people think.

After all, I recently have literally had university educated adults (note the plural) with grown children run away from me when I said that the PCs would win a majority in Ontario, and if that happened, big cities would be shut out of the grabbing from the goody bag (with one saying in a meek voice, “No, no, no, that won’t happen!”), so what will happen when cannabis doesn’t solve everything, and leads to other problems…just like everything else in life?

The problem is journalists have turned into shills and propagandists for the industry. It is one thing to take a calculated risk, and another thing to take a blind gamble, and the government is taking a gamble, and not a risk.

In his excellent book Flat Earth News,  Nick Davies recounts UK’s response to heroin usage after the Second World War among solders who became addicted, and the elegant solution the government provided then that worked fine for decades until it was decreed a bad and wasteful thing to provide, and then it all broke loose. Canada is doing the same thing from the opposite direction. It is not as if we have no framework as a starting point, but that’s how the government has been behaving: winging it and hoping it will all work for the best because they decree it so, and they know everything; so the little people needn’t worry, and if they do, they can toke up and shut up.

It doesn’t have to be a recipe for disaster: all it takes is a recipe that doesn’t produce triumph, and that will be enough to cause problems that never go away, but always insist on bringing another problem with them.

Risk assesses potential problems and creates counter-plans. A gamble goes in blindly assuming everything will work out for the best, regardless of obstacles.

But when you have advocates and cheerleaders whose own interests are not exactly disclosed who won’t deal with facts that spoil their narrative, even the smallest problems have a bigger impact than if they were exposed early and realistically so that it can be dealt with early on.

A risk exposes people to potential problems so there is no panic when it arrives. A gamble assures everyone there is no problem because you just have to go for it.

That was the original mandate of journalism: to show the problems as they happened precisely as they were so that they could be dealt with and society could progress in a realistic manner.

That mandate got lost somewhere along the way because reporters started taking the path of least resistance. It is easier to enable a sheltered mindset than burst a bubble to remove the filters and show reality.

A risk sees reality in order to navigate in it to reach a goal. A gamble sees the fantasy outcome and sees nothing in-between or beyond.

The alternative plays no favourites. It doesn’t cheerlead or root. It doesn’t malign or condemn. It presents facts. It asks questions, not create a melodrama or a fairytale.

Troubles don’t happen because the sky is falling. They start when the ground is eroding.

The Canadian press is a prime example of confusing shilling with reportage.

It didn’t start with weed, however, just look at this recent National Post headline:

Canada’s housing market has achieved the ‘magical soft landing’: Royal LePage

Canada's housing market has passed through the correction without the carnage predicted, but still remains blah, says Phil Soper

Pollyanna propaganda…and yet as deceptive as Soviet-era cheerleading that was presented as “news.” Summer months are real estate high season, there will be an uptick, regardless. The test is in the autumn and winter months before one can say there has been a soft landing or not.

But using the word “magical” is deliberate tweaking at the realists who see the signs and are sounding the alarm. Realtors don’t want to spook people; but the word “magic” pushes every possible boundary of journalistic ethics imaginable.

Like a villain who seems to defy the odds until he sees he no longer has any ground to stand on, journalists are, in fact, encouraging people to run off that cliff because nothing will happen to them. It’s all good.

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One bad con deserves another, I suppose.

Even the shilling is being ignored.

Because there is a difference between a Fool and a Magician.

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The fool looks up to the sky as he ignores the warning signs of there no longer being solid ground beneath him as he takes a gamble, while the Magician can defy the odds as he has his feet planted firmly in the ground as he takes risks.

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But a Fool becomes a Magician only if he takes one step back to look around him.

The second he takes that one step off the cliff, he becomes his own villain.

A single step is all it takes. Nothing more.

Journalism was supposed to give us more than a map, but also sound the alarm if we veered too far off course, and yes, you can veer so far off that you end your own existence, taking countless innocents down with you.

That’s called bad journalism.

The alternative doesn’t paint rosy pictures or gloomy ones.

It is pointillism with every point a fact. There is no cheerleading or demonizing.

Every point is a stone that surrounds an issue, but not to take away liberties by creating false narratives, but by creating new liberties by turning those points into paths.

If the new world game is Go, then the alternative is the antidote to disrupting those games.

Because games are nothing more than deflections, misdirections, and distractions.

Power doesn’t come from playing games: it comes from using games as feint a to hide from the public what is truly going on.

And the public has no idea what is going on, and yet bank every grain they own based on plans that do not align with reality.

Journalism has beats, but no rhythms, and it is the reason they collapsed, and are also pining their hopes on what they construe as “cool” beats.

But there are no rhythms. No frequencies because they are not in tune with the world, only shallow image.

The alternative is the one where images are to be dismantled to show the ground: whether it is eroding because it is, in reality, a battleground — or is it the fertile place for gardens to blossom.

Not through narratives that lie, but by facts that reveal the truth…