Category Archives: Media

Hump Day: You decide who touches you, no one else!

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

Last Friday, Aug. 7, CBC British ‍Colum‍‍bia television reporter Megan Batchelor was doing a live broadcast for the 6 p.m. newscast from the Squamish Valley Music Festival when a young man came up behind her, kissed her on the cheek live on the air and took a selfie photo with his cell phone. He then ran away.

 Megan Batchelor and Daniel Davies
17-year-old Daniel Davies thought it would be funny to get a photo of himself planting an unexpected kiss on CBC Television reporter Megan Batchelor during a live report from the Squamish Valley Music Festival in British Columbia. Unfortunately for him, not everyone was laughing, including Ms. Batchelor. He has since apologized. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Press)

Ever the professional, Ms. Batchelor continued until her item was done a few minutes later. She appeared very surprised, which of course she was. She subsequently filed a complaint with the RCMP for the unwanted intimate attention given to her by the fellow. The news quickly made the rounds of social media and traditional media. For as many people who were quite rightly bothered by the audacity of the guy who did this, it seems like a sizeable proportion of people thought she overreacted by filing a complaint. “No big deal!” was a comment seen often on social media.

This is only one instance in a recent flurry of female reporters being harassed on the job. Much of the harassment comes in the form of men saying sexually explicit things to them in an effort to shake them up while the reporters are on air. It’s bad enough when idiots stand in back of a reporter and wave their arms, jump up and down or make the ‘V’ sign with their fingers behind the reporter’s head. Getting verbally harassed with sexually explicit language is a dangerous step too far.

And now, people are taking that even further again. OK, let’s not verbally harass them, let’s start kissing them live on television. Now, answer me: on what planet is this OK? Who brought up these knuckle-dragging Neanderthals to lead them to even remotely believe that intimately touching a reporter (of any gender) live on television is acceptable? And yes, kissing someone is certainly a form of intimacy.

The video and photo of the young man was shared around the country. It was only a matter of time until he came forward or someone turned him in. Sure enough, on Monday, Aug. 10, 17-year-old Daniel Davies reached out to Ms. Batchelor on Twitter to apologize, an apology which he’s darn lucky she seems to have accepted.

“At the moment I thought it was kind of a joke, then I stepped in your shoes, that’s when I kind of realized that it all was not a joke at all,” he told her. “That’s your career – obviously it’s also your body and you have complete control of that and without anyone else’s consent, they do not have the right to do anything to anyone.”

To say the least, this was a future-limiting move on his part. Thankfully, someone or something – perhaps the fear of arrest, a lawsuit or public humiliation – led him to his senses to apologize. Besides, after his face was shared thousands of times on social media, he couldn’t exactly hide unless he stayed indoors or in disguise for the next several months.

What gets me about the Neanderthals (the vast majority of whom are men) who rebuked Ms. Batchelor and called her completely unreasonable for not wanting to be kissed by strangers – go figure! – is that they most likely wouldn’t want to be kissed by a stranger either. If they were walking down the street and a homeless person who hadn’t bathed in a month wanted to plant one on their cheek, would they let them? Something tells me no. Would that be funny? Not a big deal? Something tells me that they would freak out and probably try to punch him. Yeah, just hilarious. Pucker up! You’re on Candid Camera!

Obviously, I’m exaggerating, but I’m trying to make a point. Visually, Ms. Batchelor is attractive and the young man who kissed her was very clean cut and – at least just by looking at him – didn’t seem particularly dangerous. But you don’t have to look dangerous to be dangerous. And clean-cut people can be riddled with disease, too.

Whether you look like a New York runway model or an ogre, it’s not one tiny, microscopic iota of your business to go around kissing strangers whether or not you think it’s harmless, hilarious or what have you. It’s up to us to decide how others interact physically with us. It’s up to us – and only us! Don’t believe me? Just ask the victims of rape or assault – and then look at the perpetrators of these crimes who thought they could do whatever they wanted regardless of how their victims felt.

The misogyny aimed at female reporters must stop now. It’s not funny – and it is indeed a big deal.

Hump Day: Media should ban anonymous comments on their websites

Hump Day 2 cropped

(Editor’s note: This is a slightly edited version of what appeared in the newspaper, so I’ve removed reference to the newspaper in this post since it’s not exactly how it was published.)

I heard a great saying recently which I’ve found myself repeating over and over: ‘Not my circus. Not my monkeys.’ Whenever I get the urge to ride in on my trusty white steed and get involved in an argument (usually online) which I find to be unfair to someone, I usually regret it. No; correction. I always regret it. Always.

Through the years, I’ve had to learn to mind my own business. Unless the so-called victim is in a position of weakness (physically or mentally), they can usually take care of themselves. They don’t need me showing up like some blowhard willing to take over the battle for them. I hate it when people do that to me because they usually make things 10 times worse. After being reminded a number of times over the years, I’ve come to realize that most people don’t need me meddling. I usually make things 10 times worse, too. Actually, being the perfectionist that I am, I usually make them 20 times worse.

Online battles are the worst because of the frequent anonymity of those taking part. I’ve been sorely tempted a number of times to start acting like a meddlesome old aunt in a soap opera in trying to defend people, protect them or help them win an argument. Over the years, I’ve sometimes given in to temptation and butted in, but it has always been to my profound and astronomical regret.

What usually happens is that this meddlesome old aunt here gets yelled at and thrown in a nursing home called Shady Acres Home for the Incurably Nosey and Frequently Confused. We pretty much just spend our days with our hands tied down to the arms of our rocking chairs so that we’re not tempted to go online, and with extra-sticky duct tape over our mouths so that we’re not even able to talk.

People can get into heated debates anywhere, but online battles tend to be the most volatile. Websites which still allow anonymous comments are sad places, indeed. If a news story is about a tragedy, someone is bound to chime in that the victims deserved it. If someone young dies in an accident, someone is bound to comment that they were probably drunk and should have known better.

trollAnd God help any good news from government. I swear that the government (of any political stripe) could announce the happiest news on the planet – people could be cheering in the streets, editorials could be universally positive, Jesus himself could high-five every politician on shore after a leisurely stroll on the water – yet some anonymous twit will rain on everyone’s parade and criticize, insult, attack and demean. I’ve kind of grown immune to it, but it still gets to me sometimes.

Earlier this week, an agreement was reached between a local municipality and a citizen to remove a roundabout at an intersection due to a human rights complaint. The individual, who is visually impaired, stated that she found it difficult to cross the intersection because the way it was designed meant that she could not determine from which direction traffic was coming. Fair enough. I’m certain there was no malice on the part of the municipality or those who designed the intersection. They simply wanted to alter traffic flow for a number of legitimate reasons, probably to slow down traffic in a busy area of town.

I should not be surprised anymore, but online discussion among the anonymous twits swiftly went anti-government, anti-French, anti-this and anti-that. Some wondered whether the majority should have to pander to one person. Compassion and understanding are certainly not alive and well in online comments sections.

Are we that pathetic as a society that a visually impaired person who wins a human rights complaint is attacked for their disability and for the language they speak? Municipalities can’t just alter infrastructure on the whim of one person unless there’s very good reason. In this case, it was determined that the reason was indeed very good. Live and learn. Move on. It won’t be the first time and it certainly won’t be the last time.

‍Trolls can be the stereotypical knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who live in their parents’ basement and wear sweatpants all day, or they can look like harmless average Joe Blows just going about their daily business. That’s the scary part.

Either way, we must declare war on ‍trolls. The grasslands on which they feed – the comments sections of media websites which still allow anonymity – must be torched. Media that change or completely close their anonymous online comments sections will have my eternal admiration. It’s an idea whose time has come.

Hump Day: Media censorship of accused’s name would accomplish nothing

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Recently, Sun News Network announced that they would no longer be using the name of Justin Bourque in their news reports on the Moncton shootings. Mr. Bourque has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Codiac RCMP officers Const. Fabrice Gévaudan, Const. Doug Larche and Const. Dave Ross, as well as the attempted murders of Const. Darlene Goguen and Const.Eric Dubois.

The network’s pledge to erase the alleged shooter’s name from their reporting was welcomed by many. I saw a number of friends post the announcement online,obviously quite pleased that they would not have to see the name in Sun News Network media reports. People need to remember, however, that Sun News Network has very little reach into New Brunswick. There will still be plenty of opportunities to see the name they would rather forget.

Should Mr. Bourque be found guilty, we will have to accept the fact his name will be popping up in media reports on a regular basis until his sentencing. Will there be a psychiatric assessment? Will he even plead guilty? Or will he plead not guilty, leading to a trial that will certainly bring more media attention to him than ever before? Only time will tell. It is my hope that if he is guilty and has one shred of decency left in him that he’ll save the families, RCMP officers and the community from reliving those 30 hours of hell all over again in meticulous and graphic courtroom detail.

Whatever the case, like any Canadian, he has constitutional rights that will be protected under the law. I trust that his legal counsel will ensure he gets a fair trial. I also trust that the Crown will be duly thorough in their case so as to avoid any technical errors that could lead to a mistrial.

The only way to ensure our fallen Codiac RCMP members get justice is to be painstakingly professional.Emotions are running high — as they should be with this tragedy so fresh in our minds. The best thing we can do as a community is to ensure that we cooperate with steely eyed determination in any way possible to ensure the right person is brought to justice. Should that be Mr. Bourque, then this is not the time for getting distracted by things that matter little, like having his name erased from media coverage. Making Sun News some sort of folk hero in all of this is like following rabbit tracks when we’re really hunting for moose.Sun News is pulling a public relations stunt. Don’t fall for it.

In effect, not reporting Justin Bourque’s name is akin to emotional censorship. It’s not up to the media to preclude that an attempt at infamy on his part was the reason he allegedly did what he did. It’s not the media’s call. Nor does it do society any favours by simply ignoring his name and not delving further into the reasons why he did this.

Knee-jerk reactions like, ‘I don’t ever want to hear or read his name again’ are certainly understandable, but it’s not realistic — and it’s certainly not good journalism to leave out key facts in stories because it upsets some people. This is an upsetting story -– to say the least. It’s a tragedy -– one of the biggest in Moncton’s history. For 48 hours,we were front-page headlines around the world.

The spine-chilling photo of Justin Bourque taken by Times & Transcript photographer Viktor Pivovarov was on the front page of many newspapers around the globe. It’s not every day that you see a heavily armed man dressed in camouflage walking down a quiet residential street. It’s a scene that I hope we never witness again. To pretend he didn’t have a name is not helping matters.

Ignoring Justin Bourque’s name is quite simply unprofessional from a journalistic standpoint.

censoredSweeping the name of something under the rug doesn’t make it go away. If you look at issues such as sexual abuse or domestic violence, these issues were repressed for years because people refused to discuss them. How else can we deal with them if we don’t tackle them head on and call them for what they are? Crimes.

Each of us, however, can control our own surroundings. We can make conscious decisions of not mentioning his name in conversations or in social media, if that is what you choose. That is well within everyone’s rights – but demanding media censorship of a name that has allegedly caused so much damage is out of line and inappropriate. It is emotion gone wild. At some point, professionalism needs to prevail – like when the RCMP arrested Mr. Bourque just after midnight on June 6. I would assume the arresting offers weren’t terribly interested in treating him gently – at least at an emotional level. By all accounts, however, they were absolutely professional – as we would expect.

It has been one of the worst weeks in the history of Moncton. We will prevail, however – and we will do so by meeting the issues in society that led to this tragedy in a manner that is head on. We won’t prevent future incidents by pretending they don’t exist or by emotion-driven censorship. Burying our heads in the sand just means that our behinds are sticking up in the air and an easy target for the next ruthless anarchist.

I understand the desire to condemn, but if we as a community head into this with emotion trumping professionalism, we run the risk of making a mistake that could prevent justice from being served. I have every confidence that professionalism will get us much further than emotion. Public relations stunts – not so much. Don’t take the bait.

This week’s CBC Radio Moncton’s The Meet-Up panel: Events centre, Olympics

One of the possible concepts for the proposed Moncton Events Centre
One of the possible concepts for the proposed Moncton Events Centre.

On this week’s edition of CBC Radio 106.1FM Moncton’s The Meet-Up panel on Information Morning with host Jonna Brewer, Cyril Johnston, Manju Varma and I discussed the funding surrounding the proposed Moncton events centre as well as the competitiveness surrounding the Olympics. Did Patrick Chan really need to apologize to Canada for not winning gold in the men’s figure skating competition? Click here to listen.

CBC Radio Moncton’s Information Morning show launches The Meet-Up

Jonna Brewer, host of CBC Radio Moncton's Information Morning show
Jonna Brewer

CBC Radio Moncton’s Information Morning show is launching a new weekly hot topics news panel tomorrow (Feb. 12) called The Meet-Up. Every Wednesday morning at 7:40 a.m. on Information Morning (106.1FM for listeners in Southeastern New Brunswick), join host Jonna Brewer and panel members Cyril Johnston, Manju Varma and me — Brian Cormier — for our take on some of the week’s top news stories.

This week, we’re taking on the faculty strike at Mount Allison University and New Brunswick NDP Leader Dominic Cardy’s proposal to end the provincial government’s “no failure” policy in schools. Some say this policy has allowed students who can’t read or write to move up through the system and out into the world even though they are woefully unprepared.

UPDATE: Click here for the first panel discussion aired Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.