“…I have no intention of giving credibility to your omission by debating it with you, nor do I think this matter can be satisfactorily dealt with by my setting a precedent for you to justify any future repetitions merely by offering to publish a rebuttal.”
Below is a copy-and-paste of the text of a letter I received yesterday from the Editor-in-Chief of the York Region Media Group subsidiary of Metroland Media, following a complaint I sent to them on December 31st last year, and the text of my response appears below that, together with links to background material.
Nothing much can be done until a decision is made by the Ontario Press Council, which will be considering the matter at its June meeting.
Dear Mr. Goodall,
My sincere apology for a very delayed response to your letter sent Dec. 31, 2012. Unfortunately, that letter wasn’t received by myself or any of my editors, despite your indication it was sent by registered mail and received at our distribution centre in Aurora. I only became aware of its existence after you filed a complaint with the Ontario Press Council.
The story, York cops continue to battle hate crimes, Dec. 30, 2012, was one in a series of articles in a ‘year in review’ feature published in our newspapers. All articles are posted online at yorkregion.com. As you indicate, the article recapped the reaction of the victims and community following incidents of racist graffiti, as well as details of the arrest, following extensive coverage at the time of the incidents.
The article indicated while Toronto media portrayed the incident as one resulting from a community struggling with growing diversity, our newspaper articles reflected the opinion of community leaders that this was not a random act. The article included the fact that the man sentenced in the crime was a former partner of the one of the victims.
You are requesting both an apology and a correction regarding the omission of the fact the man charged with the crime was black.
In terms of the crime and conviction of the perpetrator in this case, mentioning race did not meet our requirements of relevance. York Region Media Group follows Canadian Press style, only identifying a person by race, colour or origin when it is a relevant and essential element of a story. In accordance with that policy, our editors concluded the race of the person charged was essentially irrelevant due to the fact the graffiti was racist, regardless of the race of the perpetrator.
As well, our editors further concluded race was not a relevant or an essential element of the story given that this crime was a result of a personal grievance by a man who wasn’t a neighbour of the victims or even a resident of the town.
I don’t feel a correction would be the appropriate method of dealing with your concern, as the story doesn’t contain an error or misinformation. Given that our policy was followed appropriately, I don’t feel an apology is required. I would be happy to publish a letter to the editor sharing your concerns with our readers, if you feel that would be appropriate despite the lapse of time.
Thank you for your message.
I am surprised at your statement that you did not receive my letter, perhaps it was lost by your mailroom staff. I can provide you with a copy of the post office ‘proof of delivery’ if you wish to investigate.
In my opinion, your finding that “mentioning race did not meet our requirements of relevance” and your subsequent statement that you only identify a person by race “when it is a relevant and essential element of a story” are both illogical and disturbing. If the relevance of the race of the perpetrator in this story escapes you, then I see little point in trying to convince you myself.
I have no reason to disagree with you that “the story doesn’t contain an error or misinformation”, my allegation is that your story is misleading by virtue of what it does not contain.
I appreciate your offer that “I would be happy to publish a letter to the editor sharing your concerns with our readers,” but I feel that would (be) completely inadequate. My overall concern is that you have misrepresented the events which took place, and that you have done so in such a manner as to unjustly besmirch the White residents of York Region and elsewhere, who are being blamed by inference for the actions of a Black man who pretended to be White in order to cause hurt to someone, to mislead the police and the public, and to conceal his involvement.
It was a nasty and malicious act, and while revealing his race would have gone a long way towards discouraging such dangerous and unpleasant actions in the future, you chose to ignore that fact, thus paving the way for future repetitions which could possibly lead to unnecessary racial discord and breaches of the peace.
Accordingly, I have no intention of giving credibility to your omission by debating it with you, nor do I think this matter can be satisfactorily dealt with by my setting a precedent for you to justify any future repetitions merely by offering to publish a rebuttal.
As I said in my letter to the Ontario Press Council, “… I believe that “yorkregion.com” has lied by omission in order to avoid spoiling a propaganda vehicle for politically-correct, anti-white sentiment. This is both dishonest and potentially dangerous, in that falsely inflating alleged “white racism” could have led to breaches of the peace.”
Quite apart from any political agenda that you may have, I feel that your story was both dangerous and essentially dishonest, and that I should not have to debate such a matter of basic journalistic integrity with you, or for that matter the Ontario Press Council.
I shall wait to see what action, if any, the OPC and yourselves will take on this matter.
Yours very truly,
Jeff Goodall etc.
See my post “Canada: Blatant smearing of White people by the media” (Jan. 3rd, 2013) here.
A history of the Ontario Press Council is included in my post “The Ontario Press Council: And, posts are down somewhat…” (Feb. 8th, 2013) here.