The G20 events that included mass arrests of demonstrators in Toronto brought out a criticism against the media that has become a commonplace these days. It centres around the idea that the demonstrators know the media will be there, so they stage events that are designed to upstage the main event - and the media plays into their hands, giving them a platform that they could not otherwise obtain. It's a good debate - about the role of demonstrators, media, police, public discourse of serious issues - and I am not going to provide the last word here.
But my thoughts travelled along a similar line last week as I went off to cover the creation of a community garden, seemingly worlds away from the big matters being played out in Toronto. Except in this case, the cost of the garden, and all the equipment to make it, was borne by Fiskars, a Wisconsin based maker of rakes and shovels and such, along with Canadian Tire, which sells the stuff. Now sure, the event would go ahead whether I was there to cover it or not. But a skeptic might suggest the whole point of this fine example of corporate citizenship was, ultimately, to get such coverage and give people a good impression of the principals involved, so that when it comes time to buy a new pruner they would head down to Canadian Tire for one made by Fiskars. Is that a bad thing or, like the demonstrators in Toronto, just the way things work in a media savvy world? I'm also not going to provide the last word on that debate here. But at least, in this case, a community garden got built. Community Garden