FIRST-TIME CANADIAN AUTHOR WINS AMERICAâ€™S GEORGE ORWELL AWARD NCTE George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language
Canadian author F.S. Michaels has won Americaâ€™s prestigious 2011 George Orwell Award for the non-fiction debut MONOCULTURE: HOW ONE STORY IS CHANGING EVERYTHING (Red Clover Press, May 2011). Published by Red Clover, a new Canadian independent press, MONOCULTURE has been described as â€œa provocative investigation of the dominant story of our time.â€
ABOUT THE AWARD The annual George Orwell Award, established in 1975 and given by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), recognizes authors who have made an outstanding contribution to the critical analysis of public discourse. Past recipients include author Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food), Amy Goodman (co-founder, executive producer, and host of the award-winning national daily news program Democracy Now!), Pulitzer Prize-winner Charlie Savage, television host Jon Stewart and the â€œDaily Showâ€ cast, economist Juliet B. Schor, linguist Noam Chomsky, and cultural critic Neil Postman.
Congratulations! It is on my soon to be published list of my best reads of 2011. If you havenâ€™t read it yet, you really need to. The book changed how I look at much of the world around me.
I was watching CNN this week and was stunned by the poor job the anchor was doing bringing any kind of accountability to the Republican guest. Considering that their advertising was â€œKeeping them Honestâ€, they seem to do a horrible job of it, even their respected hosts like Wolf Blitzer. In an attempt to appear non-partisan, they are not keeping anyone honest by not taking a stand on anything.
The â€œletâ€™s leave it thereâ€ that you hear over and over again means that guest can lie to your hearts content and no one will call them on it. In many ways it has made them less reliable than MSNBC and Fox News. Jon Stewart goes to town on CNN in this 2009 segment.
What is scary about this segment is that it isnâ€™t that far off base. CNN seems to be going through the motions more than actually being a news source I can trust.
Aside from feeling sexually attracted to the people on screen, the target viewer, according to consultants, is also supposed to like easy stories that reinforce beliefs they already hold. This is where the public broadcaster is caught in a tough spot. CBC Television, post-Stursberg, is failing in two ways. Despite modest gains in certain markets, (and bigger gains for reality shows like Dragonâ€™s Den and Battle of the Blades) itâ€™s still largely failing to broadcast to the public. More damnably, the resulting strategy is now to compete with for-profit networks for the lowest hanging fruit. In this race to the bottom, the less time and money the CBC devotes to enterprise journalism, the less motivation there is for the private networks to maintain credibility by funding their own investigative teams. Even then, â€œconsumer protectionâ€ content has largely replaced political accountability.
Itâ€™s a vicious cycle, and it creates things like the Kate and Will show. Wall-to-wall, breaking-news coverage of a stage-managed, spoon-fed celebrity visit, justified by the coupleâ€™s symbolic relationship to a former colony, codified in a document most Canadians have never read (and one province has never signed). On a weekend where there was real news happening in Bangkok, Misrata, Athens, Washington, and around the world, what we saw instead was a breathless gaggle of normally credible journalists, gushing in live hit after live hit about how the prince is young and his wife is pretty. And the public broadcaster led the charge.