Wednesday, May 29, 2024

BIG Mouth

Analysing the difference between government announcements and scientific findings

Every day, it seems that there are more and more people in my network who accept the words of our politicians and chief medical officers as definitive facts. I find this perplexing, to say the least. This is not a condemnation of the public officials' actions; I would not want to be in their shoes, facing myriad, daunting challenges that come with navigating the current crisis ... and some of their messages are indeed factual. However, it...

BIG Media birth – stranger then (non-)fiction

As children, a lot of us were told to avoid talking to strangers. Thankfully, I never really took to that lesson. At 10 p.m. on Dec. 28, 2019, after a full day of writing, I popped in to Earls restaurant in southwest Calgary to have a late pint and watch my favourite TV show "Raptors in 30", a condensed version of Toronto's basketball game versus the Boston Celtics played earlier that evening. It was a busy night at...

Waging war on hypocrisy

Gasoline prices are on the rise across North America, but the trend is offset by the fact that talk is cheaper than ever. One does not have to scroll too far down a social media feed to see someone complaining about the price of gasoline. Often, it is a person who has earlier decried the oil and gas industry for its supposedly evil ways. Hmm. It seems to me that someone who wants our society to...

The race we do not want to win

A friend recently questioned me about the BIG Media site not having a lot of fresh news content every day. I replied, "Yes, while our competitors pump out tons of low-integrity, sensationalized content on the high-pressure, click-bait-driven 24-hour news cycle, we prefer to publish stories when they are ready, usually after exhaustive research." We will never win the volume race, but we will consistently come out on top in quality of content. We can do that...

Nudge and the uneasy pursuit of context and objectivity

On June 12, Alberta (Canada) Premier Jason Kenney announced a multimillion-dollar lottery scheme to encourage more people to get COVID vaccines.He said, "Many places around the world have launched similar lotteries like this because we need to just nudge those who haven't gotten around to getting their vaccines yet." The appropriateness of that nudge is now the subject of spirited debate on various platforms. This article explores the uses of nudges to affect behaviour and how that...

Mother of suicide victim implores adults to look for new signs of trouble

I received a heart-wrenching message from a woman in my LinkedIn network recently. “Susan” said that she has been frustrated with the lack of coverage of mental health issues in the media, and asked if I could help. I promised to write about it, and I will start by sharing her story. Individual names have been changed to protect privacy. Susan lost her 20-year-old daughter Amber to suicide six months ago. Her daughter was the third...

What the International Energy Agency is actually telling us

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently published “Net Zero by 2050 – A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector”, in which they document details of a scenario (Net-Zero Emissions Scenario, or NZE) taking the world to a time 29 years from now when global humanity will produce net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The report is long – 190 pages plus appendices. It addresses in considerable detail what must happen in all major energy consumption areas –...

Returning to our WEIRD roots

In the West, we trust that our public policies are guided by rationalism, and that our governments “listen to the science”. (For more on this topic, see Science – there is method to the madness) We believe that despite being messy, the adversarial nature of our parliaments, combined with transparency from the fourth estate, journalism, and objective laws from an independent judicial system, ultimately translates to a healthy society. Yet the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed weakness...

Deathscape article was no typical piece of journalism

This is the story behind the story that entrepreneur/geoscientist Laurie Weston wrote on what she called the Alberta Deathscape. It should help some readers better understand the difference between BIG Media’s truth-focused approach and what we are familiar with in mainstream media reports. This is a story that earlier in my career as a journalist, I would have taken on myself. As mainstream media reporters and editors tend to do, I would have looked at the...

Open letter to media organizations – please stop!

Dear Media Friends, Please stop scaring the heck out of people by withholding information that might prevent them from freaking out. For example, when you report that there are a “record-smashing” 300,000 new cases of COVID-19 in India, could you please add some context? Like maybe mention to Canadians that India has roughly 102 times the population of Ontario, so the last daily report of 3,871 news cases in Ontario is higher per capita than India’s reported...