In a culture that demands so much of us as individuals, striking a balance between mind, body and soul seems more a point of curiosity or a good laugh at best. A demanding full-time job coupled with my studies, leaves little time for personal pursuits or small pleasures, be it reading the news before work or curling up with a good book. Personal interests aside, thankfully staying in the know requires little effort as we live in an age where information is generally little more than a few clicks away.
One small caveat – the ease of accessibility to said information leaves us vulnerable to an unsavoury blend of media coverage sometimes indistinguishable from the real McCoy. Sensationalized stories masquerading as legitimate news, enjoy front page status of every media news outlet both here and abroad. Headlines dealing with gritty, relevant topics are often concealed or hidden in plain sight under subsections of the paper. Nothing to see here folks! News has become another bi-product of our fast food culture. Tailored to my needs, either by magic or maybe algorithms, the media conglomerates serve up my news hot, fresh and pithy. I love this succinct world, where I don’t have to ponder, ruminate, reflect, well think – it’s all done for me.
Convenient? Yes. However, the obvious danger of having your headlines chosen for you by mass media conglomerates cannot be understated. Sometimes, biased and edited – perhaps distorted is more apt- coverage of current events and social issues seems a bi-product of a structure reliant on profit to generate news. This vulnerability, or Achilles heel, affords corporate America the opportunity to peddle their wares in a product-friendly environment i.e. no analysis to back claims and free of accountability. Not surprisingly, objectivity is all too often eclipsed by corporate interests that are in direct conflict with events and issues of public concern. In short, if a headline portrays an advertiser in a negative light, it most probably will never see the light of day. The almighty dollar rules supreme in North America.
All of this is to say that, news coverage is highly influenced by pundits and corporations that operate on agendas that do not hold public policy in high regard. Further, deeply rooted discriminatory practices in society dictate which stories receive coverage and which don’t. Case in point, news stories dealing with First Nations Peoples, then and now, are often secluded to sub-sections of the “paper”. For instance, the CBC maintains an Aboriginal section on their web-site that is home to stories exclusively dealing with Native issues across Canada. While it is encouraging to see more Native issues being addressed at this level, I wonder how much farther we have to go before we realize that inadequate access to education, increased vulnerability to violence and shockingly high mortality rates are not Native issues, but rather societal deficits that need to be addressed. Complex, emotionally charged, wrought with historical blunders, these issues are moral and ethical land-mines that have been unjustly labelled Native. Meet the Indian removal policy for the 21st century.
Over the last couple few months there has been increased interest in the cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across Canada. New findings published by the RCMP, surpass the findings of PhD candidate, Maryanne Pearce, by over 300 missing and murdered Aboriginal girls and women over a 30 year period. Shocking when you consider her data hit media outlets only a few short months ago. It seems Maryanne’s name is already fading from public memory with the release of the RCMP report. She should be credited with accomplishing in seven years what it has taken the RCMP over 30 to do – identify a deeply rooted form of racism in society. More disconcerting is that until early 2014, the widely disseminated number of cases was in the vicinity of 550. That translates into over 500 sisters, mothers and daughters that simply disappeared from the Canadian ethos. Again, the Indian removal policy in action. Prior to January 2014, to find any degree of coverage on these statistics one would have to visit the The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) web-site. Not only have they made incredible efforts to keep this coverage in the public sphere, they have launched programs, like the Faceless Dolls Project, to raise awareness of the alarming rates of violence against First Nations girls and women in this country. The pressure on our Government by agencies such as NWAC and individuals like Maryanne Pearce to address this issue has resulted in the report by the RCMP.
There was a small degree of satisfaction, or perhaps relief, to see these headlines had secured front page status. As I look at their prominent placement, I can’t help but wonder when they will be relegated to the Aboriginal section of the paper for safe keeping.