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On the failures of Canadian media and government
July 8, 2011 8:05 PM   Subscribe

Why I Quit My Job Kai Nagata on why he just quit his job as CTV's Quebec City bureau chief at age 24: a critique of Canadian government and media.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken (68 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
It’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 couple’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.

This. This is what I think of every morning when I turn on Newsworld and quickly change to BNN before they start showing their 24 hour stale 'viral' YouTube clips. It's not news.

The musical open for the Royal Wedding is longer than the time allotted for their world news segment.
posted by phyrewerx at 8:24 PM on July 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


So both the CBC and CTV are a bunch of phonies? Who knew?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:31 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Once it becomes clear that you are never going to be allowed to improve the corporate culture where you work, continuing on just strengthens the bad. We can debate if Nagata did it too soon or we can all get together to give the backwards coroneR a full autopsy with rusty saws.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:35 PM on July 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Should we be more disappointed in the journalists who report on trivialities, or the public that laps it up?
posted by blue_beetle at 8:40 PM on July 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


he thought that he may not be able to ...report very honestly... unless he put a lot of years

That was my impression too. I guess a dozen or even five years looks like forever when you're 24. I know it did to me.

On the other hand, how long should you be willing to hang on, eating crap and smiling, before you get to finally to start on what you know you're capable of?
posted by bonehead at 8:43 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, how long should you be willing to hang on, eating crap and smiling, before you get to finally to start on what you know you're capable of?

Even more telling: if you believe that you are actually doing harm in not speaking up when it would be seen as 'not objective,' how long are you willing to do harm in hopes that eventually you'll be a big enough name to do good?

Do you remain complicit in something that deceives, because eventually you'll be powerful enough not to? Or do you just bow out and say, "Here's why?"
posted by verb at 8:52 PM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


So both the CBC and CTV are a bunch of phonies? Who knew?

Most of the coverage of royal visit has basically been: "Prince does something manly, while wife is praised for watching him and wearing fashionable clothes."

It's pretty embarrassing.

I don't give two hoots about the monarchy one way or the other, but the breathless coverage in the Globe and Mail is just ridiculous. It is, however, the Summer Silly Season.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:59 PM on July 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's July and people are working a summer job at the car wash or off with the tent trailer or renovating their bathrooms. No one will give a damn about anything until Parliament sits in the fall. The Prince picked a perfect time to visit.
posted by bonehead at 9:05 PM on July 8, 2011


if Kai wants to complain about how there's no Maddows and Olbermanns in Canadian journalism

We don't need polarizing figures like Maddows or Olbermanns in Canada. Anyway, we have Stephen Quinn here on the West Coast. He's awesome.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:06 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fagstein asked Kai "Are you insane?", I tend to agree it's an easy way to kill a fast rising career.

My own take: The Quebec City bureau for CTV is a no-man's land for anglos, you spend all your time at the Assemblée nationale and there's no English cinema, no English culture besides wait staff that understand tourists. I don't mean it in a negative way, it's just a fact of life, I lived in Quebec City for over five years and it's a very different landscape compared to Montreal. Kai is originally from Vancouver and the jump from Van to Montreal isn't a big leap, but I'm sure he went through a bit of culture shock in Quebec City.

Here's Fagstien's original report on Kai accepting the post.
posted by furtive at 9:08 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Should we be more disappointed in the journalists who report on trivialities, or the public that laps it up?

The first one. It's no sin to prefer news that's either pleasant or exciting. I'd be delighted if the breaking news from the middle east was that they have too many puppies and the puppies will have to be sorted into a parade or else how will we be sure that all the puppies have been given tiny hats? Waving princesses aren't my thing, but there's nothing wrong with wanting to zone out and see that dang ol' lady do some waving, and I won't condemn anyone who wants to broadcast that.

Broadcasting that and pretending it's the news is lying.
posted by Simon! at 9:13 PM on July 8, 2011 [15 favorites]


[A few comments removed. Renorac, you've made a quick habit of taking fight-starting dumps in threads, and it needs to stop. You've got the week off; figure out what you want from mefi, and find a way to stop doing this, because after this it's gone for good if it keeps happening.]
posted by cortex at 9:13 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think he has made exactly the right decision to get out of the entertainment field. In addition I hope he comes to realize the limits of storytelling.

For some reason I am hoping that he will focus his energies to becoming an administrator or bureaucrat. I am getting the impression lately that this is where politics actually happens and things are changed for better or worse.
posted by vicx at 9:14 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stepping out on his own and talking about why he did it got him put up on metafilter*, because his manifesto is the truth. He's right, and it takes a fair bit of strength to call bullshit on bullshit and do what you think is right.

*That is internet famous yo. His old gig just got him teevee famous, and that's not even second rate famous.
posted by zenon at 9:20 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a little embarassed that I had to Google Stephen Quinn despite living here 5 years now. iPods have really killed radio for me, even the CBC Radio that I used to love on those long night shifts.

posted by Hoopo at 9:21 PM on July 8, 2011


Except this time, we really are going to sail off the edge.

I believe that ship has sailed and it's up river from here on out.

We need to be recruiting international scientists, funding research, stimulating the green economy, legislating disincentives to fossil fuel use, and most importantly, reaching out and building alliances with the countries who are already taking a proactive stance.

agreed and you cannot affect change behind the lens if,


Within the terms of my employment at CTV, there was a clause in which the corporation (now Bellmedia) literally took ownership of my intellectual property output.

Really. Sounds like a good reason.

Now I want my opinions back

Sounds like a sound decison.
posted by clavdivs at 9:31 PM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


For some reason I am hoping that he will focus his energies to becoming an administrator or bureaucrat. I am getting the impression lately that this is where politics actually happens and things are changed for better or worse.

It's getting more and more clear to me lately that the bureaucrats and administrators are increasingly having to answer to the PMO. At this rate, Nagatas going to hit the same wall in public admin or the public service bureaucracy. Running for office also requires sucking up to people with money. I hope this kid figures it out because I sure can't.
posted by Hoopo at 9:40 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a little embarassed that I had to Google Stephen Quinn despite living here 5 years now. iPods have really killed radio for me, even the CBC Radio that I used to love on those long night shifts.

He is sharp, especially when reporting on Vancouver municipal politics. His weekly Quinn's Quiz is hilarious.

I live in Victoria, but I refuse to listen to the local CBC radio station. 690 is where it's at.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:42 PM on July 8, 2011


A 24 year old quits his jobs for idealistic reasons? Pass me the remote.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:03 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK I wrote this out because I wanted to be clear in my mind what was bothering me about my automatic reaction "Is this guy crazy, leaving a a great job with great pay at age 24?"

This.

The implication that there are always terrible life consequences for making a sane choice, may or may not be true but that we even consider it a "truth" makes it a chilling effect on our speech and actions. The narrative that ethical choices have destroy a career in order to save "a part of our soul" is corrosive to our values. Why it emerges as an apparently dominant narrative is obvious, it writes itself and self censors anything that doesn't fit the theme.

The theme, that actually emerges from a culture obsessed with balancing the consequences of moral and ethical choices, is decline. If you are 24 years old, why would you want to be part of a decline. I understand, sympathize and support Kai's choice.
posted by vicx at 10:15 PM on July 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Canada is a wonderful country with mountains and lakes and tigers and bears and wildebeest and easy access to donuts.
posted by philip-random at 10:29 PM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm really impressed by anyone who would do this. I wouldn't have had the guts to do something like this at the start of my career. (I probably would have the guts now, either.)

And thank God the royals have fecked off to LA. Maybe now I won't have endure yet another bouquet presentation disguised as news before they get to anything else.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:05 PM on July 8, 2011


It’s true that the position demands responsibility...When I went to bed I turned email notifications off on my Blackberry, but I left the ringer on. After all, when you’re the network’s only reporter between Montreal and the Maritimes, they have to be able to reach you.

Ooh, wow! You're so fucking awesome (at being 24).
posted by gagglezoomer at 11:11 PM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Re-reading, is this blog post for real? Could it really be more typically angsty and whiny? Am I just drunk?
posted by gagglezoomer at 11:17 PM on July 8, 2011


No, you're not and it's not just you. Just take comfort in the fact he's not going to be Ben Mulroney, I guess.
posted by Hoopo at 11:22 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Angsty and whiny? I don't see that at all, and I hate the young.

Each to their own helping of cynicism, though, I guess.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:26 PM on July 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Within the terms of my employment at CTV, there was a clause in which the corporation (now Bellmedia) literally took ownership of my intellectual property output. If I invented a better mouse trap, they owned the patent...Rhymes on the back of a napkin? Bellmedia is hip to the jive, yo. And if I ever said anything out of line with my position as an “objective” TV reporter, they had grounds to fire me.

Uh, welcome to a job that involves creativity and pays for more than crap with a company where you might have future (or not). Wow, you mean, when you were being paid to come to work every day by an employer, the employer "literally" expected to receive rights to your paid output? The horror.

I had a sinking feeling when I first read that clause, but I signed because I was 23 and I wanted the job.

To think! When you are 24 or even, lord permitting, 26 or, lord further permitting, 27, that you may procure work with no such abidement (not a word, I don't care).
posted by gagglezoomer at 11:42 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ooh, wow! You're so fucking awesome (at being 24).

Why are you so unsympathetic?
posted by polymodus at 12:16 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Being out of Canada Inever heard of this guy, but good for him. I am also more and more worried that the country is taking a really fucking wrong turn - this doesn't sound like the "not USA" that I was always proud to be a citizen of.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:19 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


If he ends up in Victoria, he can sleep on my couch. Everyone bitches, but so few ever make the slightest personal sacrifice -- even a misguided one -- to try and set things right. When someone goes ahead and takes the leap, the knives come out...

I'm delighted that he didn't mention Rick Mercer as a worthy satirist. That he's Canada's most popular is all the evidence you need to tell you that the state of the media and Canadians' abilities to consume it critically are ragged, indeed.
posted by klanawa at 12:36 AM on July 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow. Lots of crotchety 'get off my lawn, he's lucky to have sucked corks for good money; he could have been Canada's Cronkite, now pass me the remote so I can watch my wheel-of-fortune' in here.

If anything, his account of 'quitting them' underlines the irony:

The feculent state of broadcast journalism has been brought about by the same influences that pushed him to quit his job. Instead of being driven by integrity, it is driven by ken & barbie news-ertainment entities that brand bullshit pop-culture as journalism. It has also been progressively co-opted, (I would argue exponentially during the Harper Government™) to become more and more an arm of the political apparatus instead of the impartial, objective watchdog that we need. We used to be able to trust the veracity of our newscasters. The reason we cannot trust the veracity of our newscasters is because their primary objectives are to sell you cialis and laundry soap instead of actually presenting the truth. It disgusts me, and I applaud Kai for being disgusted with it and having enough integrity to release from what could have been a very full teat for a long time.

Remember when CBC used National Film Board of Canada shorts and Hinterland Who's Who as interstitials between programs? They didn't even have ads. That was the best news that a person couldn't buy for any price.
posted by isopraxis at 12:52 AM on July 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


We used to be able to trust the veracity of our newscasters.

First off, in a simple semantics game, who is "we" and when was the time when we "used" to "trust" our newscasters? I've never trusted the fuckers, and I like the variety. Was there some golden age where the medium had big time integrity among big time skeptics? Am I too young for that?

And, yes...

I am jealous of the 'bravo' of just quitting a big-time job, but I could use less of the masturbatory "i-had-it-so-good" bulllshit.

Remember when CBC used National Film Board of Canada shorts and Hinterland Who's Who as interstitials between programs?

Oh yea, I forgot, the 'golden age', when the sun rotated around the earth and people behaved, you know, rationally.
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:03 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


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.

Sounds about right. Anyway, this guy sounds like he is a bit too big for his britches. I'm sure that in time he will realize what he just threw away, but unfortunately that will be much too late. I've seen this phenomenon quite a few times, where someone young rises up quickly by doing a great job, and then decides to quit right as their peak and go do "something else" because they think it will be more fulfilling or exciting. It's kind of sad.
posted by sophist at 1:04 AM on July 9, 2011


He could always start a blog to fill that new void.
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:07 AM on July 9, 2011


Canada?
posted by Damienmce at 1:09 AM on July 9, 2011


First off, in a simple semantics game, who is "we" and when was the time when we "used" to "trust" our newscasters?

Sweet - the pedant game - Ok. Lemme put it to you this way: what did Knowlton Nash have that Ben Mulroney never will?
posted by isopraxis at 1:14 AM on July 9, 2011


Integrity? I dunno.
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:27 AM on July 9, 2011


what did Knowlton Nash have that Ben Mulroney never will?

Wattles?
posted by klanawa at 1:29 AM on July 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Maddow isn't a polarizing figure. The truth is polarizing, though.
posted by JLovebomb at 4:43 AM on July 9, 2011


He writes well but he doesn't seem to understand the sources or uses of power, as demonstrated by his thoughts that "beliefs" drive the actions of the ruling class. Beliefs, of course, are simply mouth-sounds applied repetitively, like strokes of a whip, to the working class, to get them thinking the same way so they can be controlled as easily as sheep. So he's got some more research to do, and apparently he's going to give it a go on his "soul searching" trip.

I hope he comes back and does some good.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:31 AM on July 9, 2011


He should've watched Network before going into news...
posted by gonna get a dog at 6:07 AM on July 9, 2011


We don't need polarizing figures like Maddows or Olbermanns in Canada.

It takes two to polarize. Speaking mainly of Maddow here (Olbermann's far too clownish), but if you've taken on the job of countering the overwhelmingly dominant corporatist, billionaire-backed narrative and the result is polarizing, is that really your fault?
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:26 AM on July 9, 2011


Jeffrey Simpson does a waaay better job than Maddow.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:33 AM on July 9, 2011


Good, so you're all set then.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:38 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't fault him and rather admire him. Life is short and the way you chose to spend it needs to make sense to you. I applaud him for that. But as a protest, I think it is pretty ineffectual. He might have had more leverage if he had a next step in mind. As such a rising star, he might later have been able to trade his earned experience and cred for more influence on his own terms elsewhere. But with only a year or two at this gig and then such a dramatic departure, he runs the risk of his potential to influence being diminished.

On the other hand, staying on might have been like quicksand. Or terminally corrosive to his ideals. I hope his choices work out for him. He sounds like a person I would like to see staying engaged in the public sphere.

The Leaden-eyed
By Vachel Lindsay

Let not young souls be smothered out before
They do quaint deeds and fully flaunt their pride.
It is the world’s one crime its babes grow dull,
Its poor are ox-like, limp and leaden-eyed.

Not that they starve; but starve so dreamlessly,
Not that they sow, but that they seldom reap,
Not that they serve, but have no gods to serve,
Not that they die, but that they die like sheep.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:10 AM on July 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Good, so you're all set then.

Have you checked out Rabble.ca? It might appeal to your tastes.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:18 AM on July 9, 2011


Within the terms of my employment at CTV, there was a clause in which the corporation (now Bellmedia) literally took ownership of my intellectual property output. If I invented a better mouse trap, they owned the patent. If I wrote a novel, they got a cut. Rhymes on the back of a napkin? Bellmedia is hip to the jive, yo.

I seriously doubt this. I would imagine the clause would specify that CTV would own any output created in the course of employment; unless part of his job description included designing a better mousetrap between interviews, the company would have no claim on his IP. The classic example is a security guard who writes a novel in his spare time - while the duty report explaining why the kid skateboarding on the premises deserved to be clotheslined would be company (intellectual) property, the novel about a security guard clotheslining errant skateboarders would not.

I am not privy to his contract, nor am I an HR expert. But I've signed stuff like this, and pestered lawyers to help me understand it. Please correct me if I'm wrong here.

And if I ever said anything out of line with my position as an “objective” TV reporter, they had grounds to fire me.

Well, yeah. Is this so strange?

Ultimately this guy seems pretty upset at the muzzle put on him as part of the journalistic yoke, and his utter lack of power (despite the face time). Probably the right decision to quit, and all power to him. This is, of course, something that twenty-year olds have done for a long time, the difference being that now, total strangers can comment on your "manifesto [of quitting]" from around the globe and call you names.

Good luck in your next career, pal! Too bad you're already too old for Canadian politics...
posted by Chichibio at 9:31 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. Lots of crotchety 'get off my lawn, he's lucky to have sucked corks for good money; he could have been Canada's Cronkite, now pass me the remote so I can watch my wheel-of-fortune' in here.

I feel like this may be part of the issue here. I wonder if you might be roughly the same age as Nagata. Maybe his frustrations are similar to something you're going through. It's similar to what I was experiencing at 24, although I wasn't a TV newscaster with a promising career. I left the public service for good at his age and left for another country. Because I had problems with how they did things and how powerless I was.

His reasons don't come off as a "manifesto" in the slightest. It's his own objections to TV news and media in general. His opinion of TV news and the Canadian media happens to be remarkably common and one I hold myself. Frankly I don't know how he got as far as he did without coming to this realization sooner, my year in journalism school made it abundantly clear what that career would entail. Seriously, he has these objections and joins up with fucking CTV?!

Being out of Canada Inever heard of this guy


I'm in Canada and never heard of him either. I'm not sure he was really a prominent figure. But this letter of his is getting a lot of play and I think maybe he's considering launching a political career, because I'm not sure where else a young idealist feels he'll be able to do anything about the issues he's concerned about. The impression I get is it would be a centrist one if this is what he sounds like without his muzzle. Probably the Liberals.
posted by Hoopo at 10:35 AM on July 9, 2011


Anyway, this guy sounds like he is a bit too big for his britches. I'm sure that in time he will realize what he just threw away, but unfortunately that will be much too late. I've seen this phenomenon quite a few times, where someone young rises up quickly by doing a great job, and then decides to quit right as their peak and go do "something else" because they think it will be more fulfilling or exciting. It's kind of sad.

What in the world are you talking about?

Nagata's critique of the news industry is a direct hit, and that from someone who works in said industry, though on the print side - where we at least aren't hired on the basis of our looks, and thank God for that.

But if you ever wondered if Fox News (for instance) hired its blonde anchorbabes for their journalistic proficiency, here's the answer.

He believes the culture, the institution of television news to be utterly and completely broken. It is. It's about giving the people what they want, but ultimately what they want is Will and Kate rather than some messy news about Afghanistan or the financial crisis. It's the vapid providing entertainment for the vapid, comparatively few give a shit about the deep journalism that is necessary in a democracy and given that it doesn't grab the same number of eyeballs as the fluff, it's increasingly seen as unnecessary, even damaging by the corporate masters.

So what exactly did he "throw away?" A career? An opportunity to "make a difference?" But he believes there's no way he can "make a difference" as part of the corporate news culture. He's idealistic enough and young enough (and apparently unmarried enough and childless enough) to be idealistic. He wants out of a intellectually and morally bankrupt situation. Good for him.
posted by kgasmart at 11:30 AM on July 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


What I need is to better myself spiritually, physically, and intellectually, so I can effect meaningful change in the world around me.
Here is Kai's problem: Sitting in front of a camera every day has given him the idea that he is somehow one of the special people who make things happen. What he doesn't realize is that he never was one of those people; the reason his job became so unsatisfying is that he was always a tool of those people, and he only got to that position of "influence" because he was willing to carry water for the true power holders.

The number of individual people who ever reach a position where they can "effect meaningful change" in the world is vanishingly small, and Kai just walked away from an opportunity which a lot of others would claw each others' eyeballs out to attain. You decided you didn't want to effect bad meaningful change by lying to people in the course of your job, that's admirable. But don't kid yourself that you are ever likely to be in that kind of position again. Maybe you will, but it's very unlikely.

You want to effect some meaningful change? Learn to make something beautiful. Learn to fix something that's broken. Figure out how to make something that doesn't exist yet. Pick up litter. Volunteer at a nursing home. Raise a kid without turning him into an ignorant delusional robot.

But don't think that it is somehow your duty, and that you have somehow failed, if you reach my age (which is almost exactly double Kai's) and realize that you have tragically and selfishly left the world unsaved. Few of us ever get our levers anywhere near the fulcrums that make either saving or trashing the world an individual decision. You were near one of those fulcrums and decided you didn't like the cost of being there; fine. But don't think you're going to spend awhile driving around Alberta and come back as Canadian Gandhi.
posted by localroger at 11:35 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


He threw away a promising stake in the status quo, which is why he's getting so much hostility from people who are thoroughly invested.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:49 AM on July 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Media lethargy in the name of greed and failing institutions? Unimaginable. The budget is at it's lowest since world war II in terms of how it matches percentage-wise to the GDP. How the country can even run on its own seems miraculous.
posted by Meatafoecure at 12:04 PM on July 9, 2011


He threw away a promising stake in the status quo

or like the Leonard Cohen song ...

They sentenced me to 20 years of boredom for trying to change the system from within

There's so much in this thread of a get-off-my-lawn nature that I find rather annoying, and yes, I'm definitely old enough to be shouting kids off my lawn ... if I had one, which is maybe the point.

There seems to be an underlying current here that one must buy in to "the program", or else, and to entertain other notions is naive and wreaks of entitlement, and is thus worthy of only scorn. Fuck That Shit. I made any number of decisions when I was younger that one might ascribe to that foulest of motivations (integrity -- there, I said it), and yes, it's entirely arguable that these decisions cost me in terms of money, network, stability, hell, even fame. But they also got me to exactly where I am, to the friends and network that I do have, and so I wouldn't have it any other way.

When I was younger (and yes, sillier), there was definitely a dark side to my so-called integrity, which is that I was very quick to judge those who did not do as I did, decide as I decided, who did not hue to the rather narrow directions being offered by personal moral compass. I was wrong, of course. All judgement of others is, I'm pretty sure ... which gets back to why I find the get-off-my-lawnism in this thread so particularly annoying.

Because it's judgmental, and so transparently inspired by what feloniousmonk just said, and yeah, quoted now in its entirety:

He threw away a promising stake in the status quo, which is why he's getting so much hostility from people who are thoroughly invested.
posted by philip-random at 12:35 PM on July 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


He threw away a promising stake in the status quo, which is why he's getting so much hostility from people who are thoroughly invested.

You don't have to be "thoroughly invested in the status quo" to think this was naive and that he's not saying anything that hasn't been said better by Neil Postman, Noam Chomsky, or even George Orwell.

He's a disillusioned young person who quit his job when he discovered something most of us already knew. I can appreciate that as a coming-of-age story. But let's not pretend he's saying anything new about Canadian news.

He's just like the rest of us now. Kai Nagata Gets His Own Fucking Blog.
posted by Hoopo at 1:00 PM on July 9, 2011


I have serious problems with the direction taken by Canadian policy and politics in the last five years. But as a reporter, I feel like I’ve been holding my breath. Every question I asked, every tweet I posted, and even what I said to other journalists and friends had to go through a filter, where my own opinions and values were carefully strained out. . . . And if I ever said anything out of line with my position as an “objective” TV reporter, they had grounds to fire me. I had a sinking feeling when I first read that clause, but I signed because I was 23 and I wanted the job. Now I want my opinions back.

This bears repeating.

Only took him a year to figure out that "objective" journalism is a fiction invented by the mass media to serve the interests of the corporate state. I know 20-year veteran journalists who still haven't figured that one out, who refuse to acknowledge that by striving for some sort of artificial, denatured balance in their reporting, they are actually reinforcing the legitimacy of the status quo, which is a toothless, malleable government run by and for corporate interests.

So good for him.
posted by gompa at 1:41 PM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kai Nagata Gets His Own Fucking Blog.

I think that is a little unfair, he made his choice and did he not just convey that in his blog.

His tone reflects his age IMO, plus maybe he has an iron or two in the fire. He admits he is broke and going home. He has a family to go to and that might make a huge gain for this young guy. In this regards he is fortunate and says so.
posted by clavdivs at 2:31 PM on July 9, 2011


Is this something I'd have to have a TV.... No scratch that.

Is this something Kai Nagata would have to have a TV to understand?

But even though I had the disposable income, I never bought a television. I was raised without one, and once I moved out on my own I decided I didn’t want one in the house.

So he didn't watch TV news, but he decided to make it his career. Then, surprise, surprise, it's not what he expected it to be. Now he's making a BIG DEAL about that fact.

What makes it even worse is that he should have had some idea of what he was getting himself into. It's not as if he was a 40-year veteran of the business who just couldn't take the new direction of the news business. This is a guy who should have been aware enough and smart enough to at least have a clue about what to expect, and that expectation should have included at least a partial awareness that sexy and good-looking is important (I mean we can only have one Rex Murphy in this country), that fluffy entertainment news is king (or at least crown prince) and that politicians (especially Conservative politicians) have been following the lead of the American Republicans when it comes to not only setting policy but dealing with the media. How is any of that news, let alone shocking, unbelievable news?

I think that's where a lot of the "get off my lawn" feelings have originated.

As a side note, as much as it's popular to say "objective journalism is impossible and even damaging" there is a time and a place for it -- or as much of it as it is possible. Covering the Quebec legislature for a TV network falls into that category. If reporters wear their political biases on their sleeves, then we end up with a situation similar to Fox or Sun TV, and to be honest, I have absolutely no interest in getting any kind of "news" from either of those sources. Every item they touch is tainted. Now of course reporters are people with biases and opinions, but I'd still rather see a reporter attempt to present a factual, unbiased report on whatever is going on in Queen's Park or in the Quebec Legislature than have a partisan party member (of any party) giving me the preferred party line and talking points and telling me white is black. I want to at least hope that a reporter is going to chase down a political corruption story no matter if the party in power is Liberal, Conservative, PQ or Rhino.

If Kai wants to express a political opinion then may be he should have become a commentator on a political show or an editorial writer at a paper or a columnist at a magazine. Maybe that's what he's angling for now -- maybe he's looking to get a regular spot sitting on the panel of Question Period or the National. Maybe he's looking to make a big move to the States and join up with MSNBC or CNN, and this is just a bit of extra bit of publicity to push him along and bring him to the attention of people outside of Canada.

Of course the last person I personally knew who made a very similar speech ended up joining a PR firm and has been very happily employed there for years and years.
posted by sardonyx at 2:54 PM on July 9, 2011


As a side note, as much as it's popular to say "objective journalism is impossible and even damaging" there is a time and a place for it -- or as much of it as it is possible. Covering the Quebec legislature for a TV network falls into that category. If reporters wear their political biases on their sleeves, then we end up with a situation similar to Fox or Sun TV, and to be honest, I have absolutely no interest in getting any kind of "news" from either of those sources.

Well, the pursuit of objective truth has been made rather complicated by the vigorous well-poisoning that conservative media figures have engaged in for a few decades. They've sold the idea that if the conclusion is not pro-conservative, or at least neutral, it must by definition be biased and tainted by subjectivity. To some extent the left has responded with the same arguments, but they've not been as agressive or effective.

The end result is the plague of 'pseudo-objective' coverage. He-said-she-said-who-knows-for-sure stories replace factual reporting, "discuss the controversy" stories replace accountability checks, and horse race coverage of elections leaves constituents ignorant of the actual policy positions of the people they're about to vote for.
posted by verb at 3:09 PM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never said the job was easy. It's difficult. Of course TV News has swung too far to covering non-stories (including polls) and to having assorted talking heads discuss their opinions. It's much cheaper to do it that way.

I just don't believe in throwing away the baby with the bath water. There is a place for a reporter to attempt to maintain neutrality, especially when covering politics. I'm not saying don't ever come to a conclusion. I'm saying present a story and a conclusion backed up by solid evidence and do it no matter which party is in power. By evidence I mean something like: the Tory/Liberal/Green government has wasted $56 billion on buying Hello Kitty party favours for its annual Christmas party. We know this because here's the auditor general's report on the budget. Oh, and here's the guy who runs the party supply store where the decorations were bought. (Yes that's wildly exaggerated, but I think you get my point.)
posted by sardonyx at 3:19 PM on July 9, 2011


he's not saying anything that hasn't been said better by Neil Postman, Noam Chomsky, or even George Orwell.

Oh FFS. That's the trouble with this sort of thread on Metafilter; some people genuinely believe that everything is about fashion and entertainment rather than real problems that people are really going to have to confront. Heaven forbid that we should have multiple people saying a thing, each in his own way, whether you consider it better or worse. I suppose the second person in history who ever said "love thy neighbor" was just being derivative... no integrity at all, man.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:50 PM on July 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


"It is, however, the Summer Silly Season."
Kornbluth's story is relevant.
posted by doctornemo at 5:05 PM on July 9, 2011


Should we be more disappointed in the journalists who report on trivialities, or the public that laps it up?

The public also likes gummi bears, but broccoli is still a thing.

There's something to be said for nutritional value.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:59 PM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heaven forbid that we should have multiple people saying a thing

multiple people saying the same thing is most definitely not a problem with this sort of thread on Metafilter.

George, this post is in part framed as a critique of Canadian government and media. It's really a list of complaints that a young man had with his job and how it wasn't satisfying for him. They're valid complaints. Ones that I agree with and that come up in many political threads here. I'm also not doubting his integrity, it's a mystery to me where you got that idea. This appears to be a story about a young man who is taking some time off to find himself. That's not really so notable, is it?
posted by Hoopo at 8:39 PM on July 9, 2011


Oh good god, flag and freaking move on already, if you're so offended that I had the temerity to post this and 'frame it' the way I did.

I found it interesting and illuminating as an expat Canadian who doesn't know what the fuck is going on in Canada these days and is worried about the place going down the tubes. Some other people found it interesting as well, which is gratifying, and you and some other folks clearly didn't, which is fine, too. We get it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:11 PM on July 9, 2011


Kai has posted a followup.

The cranky responses here seem to not be unique.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:27 AM on July 10, 2011


Wait, he's gotten a brazilion responses so he's going to cross over into the US and turn off his iPhone? The jokes, they write themselves. #37!
posted by localroger at 4:10 PM on July 10, 2011


For some reason I am hoping that he will focus his energies to becoming an administrator or bureaucrat.

I am a bureaucrat and much of Nagata's post rang true for me as well. I would not recommend he focus his energies here.
posted by Kurichina at 12:15 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The cranky responses here seem to not be unique.

But they are pretty few and far between compared to this thread. I guess because it's his house.
posted by Chichibio at 5:03 PM on July 12, 2011


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