You know I’m one to complain about lack of context in media coverage, but a several recent articles raise a very specific question for me:
- Ottawa Citizen: “Did Afghan child abuse probe close too quickly? … military records obtained by the Ottawa Citizen are raising questions about the extent of the NIS investigation.”
- CBC.ca: “Rail security at border has major gaps: report …. “The amount and level of targeting has decreased due to a lack of resources,” concludes the August 2009 review, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.”
- The Canadian Press: “The records, obtained under Access to Information legislation, show that what reporters are asking about, what they are writing about and what they have been told are the subject of regular briefing notes shared with everyone from officers in Kandahar to commanders in Ottawa to civilian officials reporting to the prime minister.”
- The Canadian Press: “The public supports the deployment of troops when it is “an observation and monitoring role over a more aggressive one for the military,” said the survey, conducted in early March and released on a federal government website.”
My question is: why do I only very RARELY see media outlets offer the material they’ve obtained/found to viewers/readers?
If the records have hundreds or thousands of pages, I can understand not posting the ENTIRE package – how about sharing the individual report, e-mail or briefing being referred to?
Also, based on my own experience with seeking material under the Access to Information Act, I’m guessing most requests lead to the release of packages with closer to dozens of pages. Something that size could easily be shared.
This can’t be impossible, ESPECIALLY in the case of sharing a link. For example, the latest assessment from General McChrystal on Afghanistan, for example, has been made available by the Washington Post here (huge PDF).
A more self-serving example: when I mention or discuss things the Taliban have to say, I’m more than comfortable sharing source material, both directly to terrorist sites, or via links to less controversial pages (recent examples here and here).
When the media does a good job, they can do a great job of distilling what’s critical about an issue in an easy-to-absorb format. On the other hand, when dealing with complicated issues, or issues affecting different people in different ways, perhaps outside the ken of a general assignment reporter, wouldn’t it be fair to let readers reach their own conclusions based on reading of the raw material the articles are based on?
C’mon media folks, share a little, will ya?