Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Agendas and perspective

Two unrelated pieces of writing which struck a nerve...

Lorne Gunter has a lot of things to say about Jack Layton and Olivia Chow's trip to Disneyland and junkets in general. I agree with him in principle; politicians shouldn't be taking trips from lobbyists, especially if it can influence their position on legislation.

However, look at the top junket takers and the places they went. Jim Karygiannis took top spot with 16 overseas trips worth $71,950. Pretty damning. So, where did he go?
  • Greece. Yup that's pretty nice. Definitely not good.

  • France. Another vacation spot.

  • Belgium. I can see wanting to go to Belgium and maybe enjoying a beer or three.

  • The United States. Well, it's possible he had work there, but there sure are a good number of vacation spots.

  • India. It is emerging as a power...

  • China. We are trying to build better relations with China...

  • Egypt. There are places to go where you can really enjoy luxury. But if you went in the last few months, it might not be so comfortable.

  • Nigeria. Maybe he was collecting his money owed from a Nigerian prince?

  • Bangladesh. Maybe he was going for some spiritual awakening?

  • Cyprus? Haiti? If he was vacationing or going on a junket to these spots, I think he's doing it wrong.

Same goes for John Williams, who intersperced trips to Germany, England, Monaco, South Africa, the United States, Mexico and Qatar with trips to Albania, Serbia, Columbia, Kuwait and Indonesia.

Lorne really buries his lede here by showing us all of the trips and including trips that certainly look like they are related to an MP's job. But by not including those, it would look like he's actually trying to plump up the charges of junkets. It's great that he's decided to point out the worst offenders to taking trips from lobbyists. At the same time, it would be better to try to determine which trips were relevant, and which ones weren't.
On the other end of the spectrum, Robin Leach gives us a "report" of Danielle Staub's activities. (see bottom.)

Leach lets us know that Staub is gone from the Real Housewives franchise, and is no longer developing a show with them. Leach takes it a step further to tell us that Staub is making appearances at Score's in Manhattan, which is a topless club. There's a certain amount of glee that Leach seems to be taking with bringing us this and sure enough, Leach himsels tells us why he is so giddy. Staub in the past had said she was going to be the next Robin Leach.

Under most circumstances, this would be a tough situation of media letting their bias come through in their repoting. But with this being Robin Leach, it's more or less accepted that Leach's biases will be apparent in his reporting, and you go from there.

Both stories that I've mentioned here give us an idea as to how important perspective is for getting a better understanding as to what is driving the story and/or how big of a story it actually is. Without that, it would be very easy to over react.

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