COPE is doing a good job of rendering itself irrelevant
This week, the Georgia Straight published a fair and balanced article by Carlito Pablo highlighting divisions within the left-wing Coalition of Progressive Electors.
I would have thought that the key point—that internal chair Tim Louis has relied the support of two controversial left-wing groups—would have delighted Louis's critics.
But no. This is COPE, the party that can't resist fighting internal battles to the point of becoming irrelevant.
Instead of hearing any praise from the COPE activists for reporting on a topic that has been kept in the dark for too long, all the Straight received was condemnation.
Because Pablo quoted COPE corresponding secretary Kim Hearty accurately.
Here's part of what activist Ivan Drury wrote in an unpublished comment on the Straight site:
I think the way the Straight quotes Kim Hearty here is designed to be humiliating, in a specifically age and gender putting-in-place kind of way. If she was an old white guy who a journalist wanted to similarly humiliate they could write "(pause)" or "umm". But to invalidate Kim Hearty's voice this article includes her thinking-speech patterns as: "like". In my opinion this is hostile journalism that specifically fingers her voice as a young woman as invalid. I think the Straight should edit this out of the article.
Another of Louis's critics, his former ally Stuart Parker, left an angry message on my answering machine accusing Pablo of sexism.
I called Pablo to ask him about this. He responded that Hearty said "like" several times in the interview. What was he supposed to do?
I spoke to our senior editor, Martin Dunphy, who handled the article. He pointed out that our paper routinely quotes young actors using the word "like" when they're pausing in the midst of a sentence.
He surrounds this use of "like" with commas to distinguish it from the conventional use of the word.
Dunphy told me that Hearty actually used three "likes" in one sentence, rendering her comment unintelligible. So he suggested to Pablo that he include an ellipsis to remove one of them so readers could comprehend what she was saying.
I could comment on Louis's decision to rely on members of Fire This Time for Social Justice and Mobilization Against War and Occupation.
But the criticism of Parker, Drury, and others requires a response because some people are tweeting about it without having the foggiest notion of media law.
There was no attempt to humiliate Hearty. Nobody here has it out for her.
There was an attempt to ensure that everyone was quoted accurately on the slim chance that this article ever ended up before the courts.
We in the media are quite used to being disliked for doing our jobs.
In this instance, I would argue that Dunphy and Pablo both acted with exceptional professionalism and integrity.
And if people don't want to be quoted in newspapers using the word "like" too often, there's an easy solution: banish it from their vocabulary.