Saturday, December 6, 2008

Is it really a 'coalition'???

It was an interesting start to a Saturday afternoon in the newsroom...

I picked up the phone just a few minutes after I arrived to listen to a listener tell me that we had an inaccurate newscast. He told me that we LIED in one of our stories.

As you can imagine, I stood bewildered as I tried to figure out how on earth my colleague had managed to make such a glaring mistake as to lie about something in one of our news stories.

The gentleman continued his conversation by telling me that the joint government of the Liberals and the NDP was not truly a coalition. I pondered the thought, and drudged back into the faint memories of university history courses to figure out what on earth the man was talking about. And then it finally registered.

While I couldn't remember the professor, nor could I remember the class, I remembered the subject matter because of the debate it once caused. The professor had told me that while the general definition of the word coalition was basically two or more groups working together for a common cause, the political definition was slightly different. It was taught to me that the political definition of the word meant two or more groups working together in the government AND thus representing at least 50.1% of the vote.

This was the very definition the disgruntled listener was referring to. He himself had been taught, and still believed, in that very definition of a political coalition, and that any such beast that did not represent that percentage of votes was not actually classifiable as a coalition.

I continued to discuss the issue with the man for a few minutes, even so much as quoting him the articles that were written on the wire that I was to pick from. I told him that I would do my best to avoid any direct reference to the Liberals and NDP in fact having a coalition, and he obliged my efforts and went on his way.

Three newscasts later, I have not heard another word from the man. I think that perhaps I have appeased his small desire to have someone reference the term accurately.

It may be a foolish thing, but it feels like a small victory to me. Even if some of you think I have formed a coalition against the coalition...

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