Saturday, June 26, 2004

This *not* just in

In the B.C. riding of Dewdney-Alouette, Mike Bocking is running for the NDP. (I noticed this because my parents live in the riding, which is dominated by the town of Mission.)

On his site, he describes himself as the President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union Local 2000. Which he is, representing his workers well and doing a fine job.

And now for what Paul Harvey might call "The Rest of the Story".

CEP Local 2000 is the labour union representing the reporters at The Vancouver Sun and The Province, Vancouver's two dailies. Isn't it interesting that a big-city newspaper union leader would seek to run for the NDP? It does not seem to be *newsworthy* though. After a brief internet search, I have discovered that this factual nugget appears to have been spelled out in media coverage just once in a community newspaper that CEP local 2000 is the main union for the Sun and Province.

Do I have a problem with a journalist running for office? Not at all. Mr. Bocking is probably articulate and smart, although he and I would disagree on most political issues. I am also sure that Mr. Bocking is professional and fair-minded in his newspaper work, whatever his politics.

And yet, is a little odd that more of Mr. Bocking's fellow journalists don't seem to think that readers would want to know that someone who is very representative of his fellow workers at the Sun naturally gravitates towards the NDP. If I was writing on political issues for the Sun I wouldn't dwell on the fact, since journalists should be free to be as political as they like, but I would want to mention it in passing if I was mentioning Mr. Bocking.

I honestly wish that more left-leaning journalist would run for office, even if I don't think that they should win. However, if Mr. Bocking were running for the Tories or Christian Heritage Party, media commentators would be looking at weighty issues such as how a journalist balances his political beliefs and actions (running for office) and his work (working with reporters who shape political coverage). I write this not because we should be McCarthyite in such matters, but because I have observed that in the current election, candidates are being viewed suspiciously because they go to church or have certain moral views.

I'm not saying that we should grill editors on their politics. Far from it.

Of course, there are mitigating factors. For one, Dewdney-Alouette is a Fraser Valley riding, and who is running there is not of great interest to Vancouver readers. Yet, since the Sun is reporting extensively on Randy White's recent comments (when Mr White's riding is far out in the valley where not a lot of Sun readers live, comparatively speaking), it's a little surprising to me that Mr. Bocking's day job doesn't merit a small mention.

I hope my guess is wrong. I hope that Mr. Bocking's day job was mentioned in the Sun and Province somewhere in a way that led readers to realize that he is the head of the union of the reporters who write the stories about politics in the Sun. It's what I would like to have seen happen, and I hope, in Mr. Bocking's defense, that that is what he wanted to see happen.