Sunday, September 19, 2010

Department of Revenue

JE is an investigative journalism TV series focusing on public affairs, disreputable businesses, frauds and consumer advocacy. This series has been running since 1993 with a great success in the province of Québec, Canada.

Gaétan Girouard and Jocelyne Cazin set an outstanding pace in truth-seeking until 1999 and 2001 respectively. Together, they fearlessly ran into the dark world of fraudsters around the province for the sake of justice and with great determination — foot in the doorstep when necessary.

The following reportage (page, video) by Michel Jean is covering the excessive expenses on seemingly ridiculous seminars by the Department of Revenue, Government of Québec. Those seminars are given by humorists, mountain climbers, etc. to executives in the department. Approximately a million dollars per year is dedicated to those seminars with a growing tendency. The Department's spokeswoman has indeed something to say about those seminars:
03:36-03:52 Les libellés, les titres, si on s'arrête uniquement à ces éléments là... à priori peuvent sembler inopportun en matière de développement de compétences. Par contre, ce qui est important c'est de référer au contenu.
TRANSLATION The labels, the titles, if we stop [thinking] only about those elements there... first and foremost may appear inappropriate in term of developing competency. On the other hand, what is important (it) is to refer to the content.
The spokeswoman is very articulated but she also makes tremendous efforts to control herself. She frequently swags her head up and down but a better baseline has to be established in order to know whether or not it is meaningful, e.g. whether she in fact agrees or disagrees with the accusation. The following pattern is peculiar because she needs to focus, think and control her emotions:
03:42 (pause)
03:43 (look down) à priori [trans.: first and foremost]
03:45-46 inopportun [trans.: inappropriate]
03:46 (hint of smile or contempt)
There is no reason to smile on a topic that involves millions of dollars misspent. This could be what Dr. Paul Ekman calls Duping Delight — the pleasure one has when deceiving others. She fails to mention that the content of those specific seminars were effectively appropriate in term of developing competency. The rhythmic in her statement is also peculiar because she marks her words in distinctive manner as in “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” — Bill Clinton (spoken statement). She is deceptive.

The journalist missed an incredible opportunity to dig further for the truth. Exposing problems is an effective mean to increase consciousness and solve problems in an honest environment. It's however necessary to dig further and expose the truth entirely when there are dishonest people in order to hold those people responsible of their misdemeanours and/or crimes.

There are plenty of excellent journalists, including the ones in JE, but it's upsetting that they cannot go with the flow. It seems to me that they are overly prepared in such a way to prevent them to ask the right questions in order to obtain the truth. Detecting deception is about observation, expecting the unexpected and asking the right questions in the right circumstances.

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