Calling the Media to Task
Please take a few minutes to contact Ottawa's mainstream media to let them know what you think about the war show, the Festival of Peace and their coverage (or lack thereof) of these events. The media tried very hard, and succeeded, in almost completely ignoring the obvious connections between the use of the world's most advanced war-fighting technology as children's entertainment and many peace, human rights, development and environment issues.
Your phone call, email or letter does not have to be long or detailed. Neither does not have to be highly polished. Any sincere expression of concern would be great. (Contact info. for the CBC and Citizen are listed below.)
Many mainstream media outlets (radio, TV and print) actively promoted this weekend's so called "National Capital Air Show." They happily gave out all of the necessary details well in advance of the war show. In this way, they acted as promoters of the event rather than reporters covering it. They told their audiences where and when it was going to happen and they told them exactly how to get there. They even brought up the "air" show during weather reports. Reporters and news anchors actually raved about the "air" show, talking enthusiastically about how great it was for children. For example, early Saturdays morning a CBC reporter told listeners that he was at the air show with his 5 year old. He talked about how fun it was for kids and encouraged others to bring their children along for a great time.
Thus throwing all pretense of objectivity aside, the corporate and government-sponsored media excitedly encouraged people to attend Ottawa's biggest military propaganda event of the year. (Thank goodness for community media like the XPress, CKCU, and the university newspapers, that were open to public criticisms of the war show raised by peace, human rights, development, religious, labour and youth groups.)
A couple of the mainstream media (CJOH TV and CBC french TV) did mention our Festival of Peace in passing, but only after it was already over.
Blatant media support for Ottawa's highly militarized war show may not come as much of a surprise to many of us because we know that numerous local media corporations are official "partners" of this military propaganda event. This year, the war show web site <ncas.ottawa.com> lists the following local newspaper, radio, TV and electronic media as official "partners" of their event: CFRA 580, CHOT 40, CJOH/CTV, E Press, KOOL 93.9, Le Droit, Majic 100, Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa.com and The Team 1200. In previous years, media "partners" have included: The Bear, Young Country, CHOT, the Ottawa Sun and CHEZ 106.
At the same time as they promote the war show, the mainstream media succeeded in almost completely ignoring all of our criticisms about the event. Although there was an interview with COAT's coordinator on CFRA AM radio (on Wednesday) and CBC local news (on Friday), these resulted in only very brief news items. CBC's interview focused on opposition to the distribution of air show fundraising materials to Ottawa's schools, rather than on our reasons for opposing the war show. Of course, they never mentioned our Festival of Peace.
This lack of coverage did not result from our lack of trying. Over the past few weeks, we sent posters, pamphlets and media releases to about 150 media outlets in Ottawa. We used fax, email and hand delivered 150 copies of our materials to all 150 members of the National Press Club. All of the main media outlets were phoned to encourage them to cover our event. But to no avail.
Now is perhaps our last chance to get our message out through the mainstream media on this important subject. Please call, fax or email your thoughts and feelings to our local media. I suggest that we focus on the Ottawa Citizen and CBC radio. The sooner this is done the better are our chances that they'll use what we send. Even if they don't bother to print or broadcast our comments, they will at least know that people care about peace, human rights and environmental issues related to the war show and that we objected to their biased coverage.
Letters to the Editor,
1101 Baxter Rd.
Ottawa ON K2C 3M4
Letters editor: Brian Sargeant 596-3785
CBO Morning Talkback line: 562-8666
On a very positive note, regardless of the media's complicity in promoting public revelry in war technology (and in war itself), our Festival of Peace was a fantastic success! We took a big step in the process of building Ottawa's peace community. We had a great time, we learned lots from our speakers, we used our banners and picket signs to expose our messages of peace to literally thousands of war show attendees. There was a strong consensus amongst those who attended that this should be Ottawa's first annual Festival of Peace!
Here is a letter which was published by the Ottawa Citizen on Wednesday, Sept. 20. You can either choose to respond to it or you can respond to the Citizen's promotion of the war show and their negligence in covering our Festival of Peace.
Sample letters-to-the-editor submitted to the Citizen