03 November 2010

Being too negative

cbc.ca/nl takes a look at negativity and local politics in a report by provincial affairs reporter David Cochrane and a commentary by Randy Simms.

They are both worth checking out if for no other reason than they raise issues that are worth considering and worth debating.

A couple of quibbles:

First, negativity of this type isn’t something new.  In the current local version, this penchant for attacks goes back about a decade.

Second, Randy Simms is in the right neighbourhood when he mentions the recent mid-terms in the United States.  Politics in this province for the past decade or so demonstrate the very effective use of American political techniques  - including an ideological element - on a local level.  The lines used are similar to ones employed elsewhere in Canada, provincially and federally, and in the United States. While they use paid advertising in other places, here the slagging is done using other vehicles. 

When you are done with the video stuff, pop over to the Telegram and check the note that the Wednesday editorial.  It points out the hefty price the Williams administration paid for a recent decision about a Facebook comment:

Why? Well, ask yourself what the circulation numbers are for one person’s Facebook page. Maybe hundreds; sometimes, thousands. In Pardy Ghent’s case, 1,109.

Then, ask yourself this question: what’s the combined circulation of the Canadian Press, Yahoo News, MSN.ca, Troy Media, and the Reuters news service, just to name a few?

All of those sites carried the story of Pardy Ghent’s firing, under the not-so-pleasant headline “Facebook flap over Danny Williams’ penis.”

It made newspapers and websites across Canada and the United States.

It even made the website of the India Times, half a world away.

Yep — Skinner took a small fire, and unsuccessfully tried to put it out by pouring on the largest amount of gasoline he could find.

Ignoring the status line would have made the whole thing a 15-second wonder that reflected far more poorly on Pardy Ghent than on anyone else.

Instead of a handful of people shaking their heads, there are now thousands. Well done.

Two additional points:

First, the Telegram’s account of costs don’t really go far enough.  The CBC news stories and all the comments on this issue that are circulating under these and related media stories point out the extent to which negativity is now an issue that can cut the ruling Conservatives at least as sharply as it cuts anyone else.

Going negative this early definitely has its costs.

Second, Shawn Skinner didn’t do this on his own. Well, odds are he didn’t.  Like Kevin O’Brien, he was likely following orders.

Take out of all that what you will.

- srbp -

*edits for caps, spelling and sentence structure

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