Sunday, 7 January 2018

Are some Manitoba media stifling dissent on the hog barn issue? One activist speaks out.

John Fefchak of Virden (L.) has been a critic of the hog industry for years. An Air Force veteran now in his eighties, he writes many letters to the editor. They're often in a losing cause, and often at odds with the "pro-hog" editorial stance of many mainstream media. But neither circumstance nor time have deterred him. His letters drive home the wrong-headedness of politicians who "cheerlead" for an industry with so many downsides, including a propensity to pollute our precious waterways. Below is John's latest letter, telling of his experiences with the Sun, a daily newspaper in Brandon, Manitoba.  (PinP)
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Is The Brandon Sun Newspaper Applying a Double Standard?

On Nov. 14th, 2017, the Sun published yet another story about yet another hog producer complaining of being "hard done by." This after the Pallister government had already passed legislation recklessly slashing health and environmental protections, in order to pave the way for even more mega-barns. Still, the producer wasn't happy. He thought that legislation, which surely guarantees more pollution, more cruelty to animals and more disease among humans and animals alike, didn't go far enough. That's because a local council had the nerve to exercise some autonomy and turn down his own bid for a new barn.

But when I wrote a letter-to-the-editor to express these concerns, the editor informed me, it would not be published!

"It's not that we're not interested," he wrote. "But we are receiving far too many letters on one single issue to run. At some point, it becomes too much. I would really appreciate letters on other topics."

And that made me wonder, "Isn't that what Newspapers do...share the voice of the people?"

Personally, I have been writing letters to the Sun for nearly two decades. And editors I've dealt with up 'til now have always encouraged me to "keep writing." I believe my letters cover important issues like, animal stewardship, health, water, environment and future generations. 

Limiting letters from people like myself, while faithfully covering every burp and squeal from the pork industry, smacks of a double standard to me. Surely if their argument is, they're getting too many letters on one topic,...what about too much coverage from the Industry side?

After all, the Sun does advertise that it welcomes letters. Now, it seems to be saying something quite different...that freedom of expression just may be curtailed. 

And that's too bad.

John Fefchak,
Virden, MB
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