Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Windsor Star Publisher Jim Venney Must Explain

It is the integrity of the Windsor Star that is at stake now, not that of DRIC or the Ministry of the Environment. There is a much bigger issue now than another DRIC/Greenlink story or the CIBPA meeting coverage.

The question that needs to be asked is whether the Windsor Star is a responsible newspaper which understands that its duty is to report the news to its readers fully, fairly and honourably or is it nothing more than an apologist for certain forces in the border battle to help further their agenda.

Here are some conclusions from an interesting article that was referred to me by one of my readers. The timing seemed so appropriate given what the Windsor Start did, or rather what it did not do:

“What Happens When a Town Loses Its Newspaper?”,8599,1886826,00.html
  • "To the extent that we can extrapolate, we can say that local coverage is something the newspapers uniquely provide," he says, "and when people don't have it, they're much less engaged."
  • “But since papers are the primary source for most other news outlets, a major link will be missing from the news ecosystem. If a paper does not cover a story, it is unlikely to be covered in the broadcast media, whose reporting staffs tend to be even smaller.”

Clearly, newspapers play an important role in our society. However, perhaps Time Magazine should do a further story about

  • “What happens when a Town has a newspaper like the Windsor Star”

What conclusions could be drawn?

Should we conclude that readers will only get part of the story, the part that the Star wants us to know about and chooses to tell us?

Or, should we conclude that there are forces at play who think that they are so powerful and so untouchable that they can do whatever they want with impunity to anyone and everyone to get what they want, even our leading media outlet.

Take a look at the BLOGs I wrote yesterday.

  • "Another Star Non-News MOE/DRIC Story"
  • "BREAKINGBLOGNEWS: DRIC Answers Star Article"
  • "CIBPA Meeting Is Wednesday"

Please explain to me why the Star did not refer to the 33 page DRIC document that answered what the MOE alleged. Whether that document is correct or not, I do not have the faintest idea. Fairness however demanded that the Star let readers know about it. Read it for yourself here:

Was the original story printed too close to the Newspaper’s deadline and a decision had to be made whether to print it or not? If so, why was there no immediate follow-up story talking about the DRIC Response? Oh yes, the Star did print the Press Release that DRIC issued, after I BLOGGED it. But why didn’t the Star follow-up to see if there was a further response and then report it?

Was the Reporter too lazy to pick up the phone and make a quick call to DRIC? That does not seem to be the Reporter’s style as I know it. Did the Editor make the decision not to include any of the DRIC response? In other words, did the Reporter report the full story and then saw his story edited? If so, why?

Was the Reporter misled? Was he told for example that there was no such response? If so, who are the parties who misled him?

The story as printed showed that our Council was right and that DRIC was wrong. It would inflame passions before the CIBPA meeting. If a political action group was set up, it could not take action against Council but against the Senior Levels.

The significance of what is going on has nothing to do with the MOE report or the DRIC response. In my opinion, this is such a flagrant abuse that the Publisher of the Star, Jim Venney, owes it to his readers to explain what happened, to tell us exactly what went on.

Was this just an aberration or the result of shoddy journalism? Was it a reporting error or an editorial one? Was there a tight deadline that had to be met and a decision made but if so, why was no follow-up story reported? Was the Star misled or pressured and if so by whom and why?

The Press Council of Ontario is very clear about the responsibility and obligation of one of its members:

  • “A newspaper has an inescapable obligation to vigorously pursue comment from any person about whom it plans to publish derogatory accusations and if possible to print it at the same time. It should check, preferably before publication, damaging statements one person attributes to another. When dealing with a sensitive issue, it should endeavour to see that the public is fully and fairly informed, either by giving fair treatment to differing views within the same article or in two articles published simultaneously.”

For some reason, the Star let its readership down badly. The Star owes it to us to give us the explanation.