Ethics versus life

Carol Off reading at Blue Heron Books & Brunch event, Nov. 12, 2017.

Last Sunday morning, I watched a seasoned journalist get uncharacteristically emotional. Previously a foreign correspondent, a reporter who’d covered hostilities in the Middle East and a long-time current affairs radio host, Carol Off’s eyes welled up. She recalled, in 2002, convincing Asad Aryubwal, an Afghan father of five, to go on-camera to expose the warlords the U.S. military was courting to overthrow the Taliban.

“Asad’s courage in speaking out was rewarded only with the calamity when, in response to (my) documentary,” Off told Zoomer magazine, “Afghanistan’s most powerful warlord sent a death squad to kill him.”

Taking their marbles home

Photo courtesy

What’s with these guys? This week, Stephen Harper, the leader of the largest dominion in the 64-year-old, 53-member Commonwealth – covering a quarter of the world’s total land mass and including a third of the world’s total population – told fellow members he’d decided not to attend the upcoming meeting of the community in Sri Lanka. He said he wasn’t happy with the human rights record of the host nation’s president. So, in a desire to protect what he felt are the values of Canadians, he’s decided not to show up. It was the prime ministerial equivalent of a schoolyard child’s pout:

“Nya, nya, na-nya nya!”

Who is on the dark side?

Press releases by the thousands flow daily between public relations people and journalists who use them as research for news stories.

I recently took a call from a Humber College student. She asked if I was a working journalist. When I informed her that I both wrote and taught, she asked if I could help her with an essay she was researching. In her studies, one of her instructors had directed her to answer this question:

“Can public relations people get along with journalists? And conversely, can journalists get along with PR people?”

“It depends,” I told her on the phone.