On October 13, 2006, a Nobel Price was awarded for “Microlending”. The title has not become a household word in our part of the world, but at face value, the event is noteworthy. Microlending is the practice of making small loans available to many people, mainly to start a business. Kind of “teaching people to fish, instead of giving them fish”. Methinks the time has come for a Nobel Prize for a “Micropress”.
“Fourth Estate” enshrines “freedom of the Press” which is integral to “freedom of speech and expression”, which is fundamental to Liberty and, therefore, essential to Democracy. Societies value publishing for it is no less essential to peoples’ well-being than other callings such as to dentistry, farming, shoemaking and violin playing.
That same day, October 13, 2006, SSI got the first issue of the Marketplace, a “micropress”, so to speak. Sandi Poystila, a woman with affinity for “printer’s ink”, started publishing the Marketplace and has done it faithfully and persistently to this day, the 13th birthday of the Marketplace.
Thomas Jefferson, a renown Democracy builder, assessed the matter and bequeathed his conclusions to us succinctly:
“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
Jefferson outlined the fundamentals aspect of the “newspapers” he had in mind. He saw the Press as a bidirectional conduit of information, linking the people with their government, having a mandate to facilitate the people’s understanding of the information they receive so as to process and integrate it into the slate of instructions to those whom the people empower to manage the affairs of their society. Kind of the blood circulation system of the societal body. Accordingly, the Press has the fiduciary obligation to serve as a public forum for the expression of the vox populi. Access to the forum is a human right which, regrettably, is often denied, this being the cause of what is wrongly perceived as “flaws of Democracy”.
Most if not all human institutions may be abused for evil ends and they are. Even super-human institutions are not exempt from this reality as evidenced by that the humans’ postmortem habitat is split into Paradise and Hell.
Because of the Press’ inherent high power potential; and because of the nature of “power”, the Press must never be left un-counterweighted. The pairing of God with the Devil manifests the universality of the concept. Not even the omnipotent can escape the temptations unbridled power triggers and it is the symbiosis that sustains the longevity the two enjoy.
In our society, it is taken for granted that we have a “free” Press. But what makes a Press “free”? Is our Press “free” in the sense that we do not pay for it, or that we do not pay full price for it? Or is the Press “free” in the sense that those who publish the newspapers are stalwarts of Democracy? Which? What?
For the past 13 years, Sandi has been publishing the Marketplace, steady on a most fair course, methinks. The Marketplace has brought forth issues crying for public attentions due to been suppressed and would have continued being untold, to the detriment of governance, in the absence of the Marketplace. Such as the live-streaming and podcasting the Trust meetings, that which came, finally, to be considered by the Trust Council at it September 2019 quarterly meeting in Bowen Island.
But the work continues, in effect it is unending and so it must remain forever, because the propensity to power is endemic. For example, now, after finally being “noticed” by the Trust, the broadcasting of Trust meetings is in peril of being boycotted by “insiders”, like it happened with the “relocation” of the Colonial Managers into the colony, which was recently boycotted dismally by “insiders”.
There is no such thing as a free lunch, and this is known at least since Diogenes. The fact is that we pay for the newspapers, albeit indirectly, through the advertisers. In our society the press is in the private enterprise domain and we pay for it when we buy things, not unlike we pay sales tax. Are we getting good value for our money? There are no general answers to that. But, the practice amounts to taxation without representation and comes with the pitfalls incumbent to this arrangement.
There is plenty of advertising money generated in Saltspring, most of which is siphoned away by offshore interests. This is manifested by the proliferation of publications which are virtually dedicated to advertising. But, there are businesses and other advertisers who rise to their social responsibilities, and apportion fairly the advertising Dollar. To those, we all owe appreciation, no less than we have an obligation to remind the others of their duty to society. I am inviting all to pitch in, to apportion fairly their advertising dollar to foster the Marketplace thus making it yet more potent. This because if any of the story sides is left untold, NO MATTER WHICH, we all lose.
Let us get together to work toward SSI being nominated the birthplace of the first Nobel Prize for a Micropress. In the meantime let’s thank and congratulate Sandi and let’s clear our throats to sing Happy Birthday to the Marketplace.