Participate, people

This is the situation: Over 31,000 robocalls were reportedly made to voters prior to the 2011 federal election. The calls confused voters by informing them that polling stations had been moved to other locations – when indeed, they had not  This became a fast growing controversy with no real answer as to who was behind it. On February 24, a headline read “Report: More than a dozen ridings blitzed by the harassing fake Liberal phone calls in 2011 election.” The language was a clear statement. The use of “blitzed” added with “harassing” suggested wrongdoing by the Liberals.

This is where the triple rule in reporting comes into play. When investigating this type of situation we have to consider all the stages of the story. As discussed in class, it starts with the tip-off. Next we look into the information that supports this tip-off, supporting and conflicting. Next we verify, and find consequences of the situation. To determine the last step, or the synthesis we were tested in class as a group.

By creating our own newsroom in the grind of detailed research to find the right outcome with which to report, we were divided into two groups. One side supported the Liberals, the other half supported the Conservatives. Each of these groups were to look at whether or not re-election was the right direction for the federal government.

Our pseudo-newsroom researched recent articles pertaining to the ongoing investigation. We took into consideration the rant by Ricker Mercer, the editorial by Margaret Wente, individual reports of voters who received calls, and statements made by members of parliament. We took into account the law, more specifically the Canada Election Act: Part II, 281 (Special Voting Rules).

The challenge was to remain un-biased with our political opinions.  Everything was weighed and presented to our pseudo editor who in turn, weighed the information and drew a conclusion. By researching substantive evidence, our newsroom decided that the conclusion to our report was that the Canadian democracy was tampered with by an outside source attempting to stop voters and therefore, a snap election would be the answer to the problem.
This is where we were truly tested, was this conclusion good enough? 

Not for a neutral news report. The real conclusion was not to be decided by the media. The synthesis, although seemingly a trick question, was simple. The media, as mentioned time and time again, is there to promote one thing: public participation. Journalism is a tricky job and we sometimes forget that even if we are trying to be fair to all sides, an opinion may slip through the cracks.  

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