When it comes to printing graphic photos and content, where do we draw the line?
Two columns worth pondering today.
An audio interview with me from Scott Radley @radleyatthespec titled:
When it comes to printing graphic photos and content, where do we draw the line?
Two columns worth pondering today.
An audio interview with me from Scott Radley @radleyatthespec titled:
Brian Rogers is the Spec's media lawyer and is a valuable ally. His legal expertise has allowed Hamilton Spectator readers to have stories they might never have read anywhere else. He helps us bring our readers into closed doors and is a strong advocate of freedom of information.
Here is a recent profile of him that I'd like to share. It is reprinted from freedomtoread.ca
The original post can be found at: freedomtoread
By Julie Payne
“Among a small handful of dedicated lawyers expanding the envelope of free expression in the media, Brian has consistently been at the forefront of arguments at the Supreme Court and elsewhere.” — Ivor Shapiro, Chair of Ryerson University’s School of Journalism
If you want to learn about the evolution of Canadian free expression law over the past 30 years, there is no better place to look than the career of lawyer Brian MacLeod Rogers.
Brian’s reputation as a champion of free expression is built on a rock-solid foundation. His career encompasses defamation and libel law, journalists’ right to protect their sources and the principle of open courts. He has been a driving force behind organizations such as Ad IDEM/Canadian Media Lawyers Association and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), and he is tireless in his efforts to pass on his knowledge to new journalists and lawyers.
In September 2014, I met Brian in his downtown Toronto office with its impressive Bay Street view. After shifting a few of the towering stacks of files to make room for my laptop, I took in the bookcases filled with books that he has vetted and the many pictures of family on the walls. I noticed among them a faded certificate. Brian explained it commemorates the calling to the bar of his great-great-grandfather in Massachusetts in 1870.
Brian was a natural for the law: his family counts five generations of lawyers. But after graduating from Queen’s University in Kingston in 1971, he was determined to forge a new path.
In 1972, he sold his worldly possessions and headed south to Mexico. Travelling mainly by bus and improving his rusty Spanish along the way, he spent a year wandering through Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.
It was the perfect antidote to the ivory tower, but his money finally ran out and he returned to Canada. He tried his hand at various jobs, including a three-month stint at CBC Radio. Journalism was starting to feel like the right fit, but as a backup he applied to and was accepted by the University of Toronto’s law school. He specialized in media law. Upon graduating, he went to work full time for The Globe and Mail.
But the job didn’t feel right. He lacked confidence in his abilities as a journalist, and he wasn’t sure the newsroom gave him the freedom he craved.
And so Brian returned to the law. He was called to the Ontario Bar in 1979 and soon began working at Blake, Cassels & Graydon, a Toronto-based firm that specialized in media law. His timing was fortuitous: on April 17, 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was signed into law. It would have a seismic impact.
Significant for Brian, and for all Canadians concerned with free expression, is the Charter’s Section 2(b) which guarantees Canadians the fundamental right to “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.”
Within a week of the Charter coming into force, Brian had his first Charter case. Doctors at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children were charged with misconduct in the death of eight-year-old patient Steven Luz. Brian used the Charter to successfully fight for a public hearing.
Brian recalls the experience vividly: “I felt like I was a surf rider riding this very exciting wave of Charter litigation.”
The Charter was a game changer. Lawyers could, for the very first time in Canada, argue a case not only on previous case law but also on first principles. Overnight, lawyers gained access to new tools that they would use to shape and build the free expression laws we enjoy today.
Over the next three decades, Brian worked on many landmark free expression cases. Some of the most important involved libel and defamation law. Today, Brian is regarded as a leading expert in this area, which he describes as “the invisible hand
In Canada, there’s a balance between the citizens’ right to free expression and the defamation and libel laws that protect citizens against the spread of false information that could damage their reputations. At stake is the need for citizens to be able to discuss and criticize people, corporations and governments without fear of excessive retribution.
In 1995, Brian represented interveners in Hill v. Scientology which reached the Supreme Court of Canada. The case was a first and disappointing attempt to use the Charter in common libel law.
Brian explains that “it created a right to reputation where none existed in the Charter and made it equal to the specific protection offered to freedom of expression.” However, by affirming that the Charter did apply to common libel law, the court’s decision opened
the door to future cases.
More than a decade would pass before Brian got the perfect opportunity to push for revolutionary change. He gathered together media organizations to intervene in two important cases: Quan v. Cusson and Grant v. Torstar. In both cases, he would argue for a new responsible journalism defence before the Supreme Court of Canada.
In the first case, Danno Cusson, an Ontario Provincial Police officer, sued Douglas Quan, a reporter for the Ottawa Citizen, for defamation. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Cusson had travelled with his pet dog Ranger to New York City to help. Quan’s three newspaper articles about Cusson claimed that he had misrepresented himself as an RCMP officer who was trained in search and rescue.
In the second case, Peter Grant, a businessman in Ontario, sued the Toronto Star for defamation. Grant had planned to build a private golf course on his estate. Bill Schiller’s newspaper article noted that Grant’s neighbours had claimed that Grant’s political connections would influence the approval of the development plans.
On December 22, 2009, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on the cases, created a new defence of responsible communication and brought Canada’s libel law into line with the rest of the Commonwealth. It was a victory for free expression advocates. The decision changed the focus from a statement’s truth to the intention of the writer and the efforts taken to report matters of public interest in a responsible and ethical manner.
“You need a flow of information and it doesn’t have to be perfect to be valuable in a democracy,” Brian says.
Lawyer Daniel Henry, who attended law school with Brian, believes that his work on these defamation cases is one of his greatest contributions to free expression. “His arguments have had a lasting impact on the law.”
By the late 1990s, Brian had left Blake, Cassels & Graydon to pursue “non-billable things that I thought were important.” He set up an independent practice working for publishers and smaller news organizations, including The Hamilton Spectator. The case of Ken Peters came to his attention.
In 1995, Peters, a Spectator journalist, had written a story about poor conditions at a nursing home. In 2004, when he was asked to name a confidential source in Ontario’s Superior Court, Peters refused. Justice David S. Crane held him in contempt and fined him $31,600. Brian Rogers, who represented Peters, described the ruling as “devastating.”
The ability to keep their sources confidential is critical to journalists. Without it, journalists believe that whistleblowers would not come forward in matters of public interest. Confidential sources have been behind some of the media’s most important stories, including the Watergate and Liberal sponsorship scandals.
Brian was determined to prove that the judge had made a bad decision. Perhaps most importantly, the judge had failed to consider the journalist’s right to protect a confidential source against the trial’s need for the evidence. In March 2008, the Ontario Court of Appeal agreed and struck down the contempt charge and fine. Peters was vindicated.
Jim Poling, the Spectator’s managing editor, explains why this case was so important to Brian. “He’s fighting in the public interest. He wants stories told.”
This philosophy is also evident in Brian’s pre-publication work. He helps journalists, documentary filmmakers and writers prepare for publication and broadcast while minimizing their risk of being successfully sued.
Poling says that Brian is not only a great lawyer, but also an excellent editor and journalist. “His approach is, what story do you want to tell and we’ll find a way to tell it. He truly believes in truth, justice and jour-nalism and building a better society.”
Brian is humble about his successes inside and outside the courtroom. “I’ve been very fortunate,” he says. He smiles and his eyebrows (fantastical appendages that make him resemble Santa Claus) rise slightly. “I’ve had clients who have paid me to do the stuff I care about.”
Despite his many courtroom victories, some of his colleagues believe that his most important contributions to free expression lie elsewhere. In 1994, Brian, along with Daniel Henry and Marc-André Blanchard (now a justice in the Superior Court of Quebec),
co-founded Ad IDEM/Canadian Media Lawyers Association.
Ad IDEM, which means “meeting of the minds,” brings together media lawyers from across the country to discuss and debate the latest developments in law and free expression. Although Ad IDEM’s work on legislation and major law cases has been significant, Brian believes that it most importantly “provides a chance for lawyers to get to know each other, so they feel comfortable picking up the phone and talking to lawyers across the country. Those lines of communication have been invaluable.”
Brian also contributes to the free expression community in other ways. For many years, he was a valued member of the board and committees of CJFE, and for more than 20 years he has taught media law and ethics at Toronto’s Ryerson School of Journalism. Ivor Shapiro, the school’s chair, explains that Brian not only teaches pro bono, but also provides free legal advice to the school and its students.
Shapiro praises the lawyer for his commitment. “Your instinct is to protect them [volunteers like Brian] and to feel bad about asking for their time. … You’re taking away billable hours. I never ever feel that way with Brian. He just makes it clear that he wants you to call and ask him stuff. … I’ve never heard of him refusing a request to talk with a student.”
Brian also finds time to work on parliamentary committees—most recently the three-member Ontario Advisory Panel on Legislation Against SLAPPs (strategic litigation against public participation). He is also a member of the Media Law Resource Center, an international organization based in the United States.
Despite his demanding workload, Brian doesn’t exactly kick back during downtime. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Jessica Hill, and two adult children at their farm north of Toronto. He relaxes by cycling, sea kayaking, fly-fishing, mushroom hunting and back-country skiing.
Jim Poling says, “He knows his Criminal Code, his legal definitions and his fly hatches.”
After more than 35 years of work in the law, Brian is not slowing down. He’s defending Dale Askey, a librarian who works at McMaster University in Hamilton, in a libel lawsuit. In 2010, while working in Kansas, Askey criticized the Edwin Mellen Press in New York State on a blog post. Herbert Richardson, the company’s founder, is suing him in Ontario for $3.5 million.
Brian is quietly confident about the lawsuit, despite its glacial pace, and believes absolutely that Askey is the person wronged.
At the end of our interview, Brian pauses thoughtfully. “The moments of doing battle are fewer,” he says. “There’s some great investigative reporting going on, but it seems like there’s less. There are fewer journalists covering the courts. This naturally leads to fewer battles. We’ve accomplished a lot, but we shouldn’t sit back on our laurels. There are lots more battles left.”
Canadians are fortunate to have an advocate like Brian MacLeod Rogers: brilliant, steadfast and dedicated to the cause of free expression.
Julie Payne is the editor of Freedom to Read. In past years, she and Rogers worked together at CJFE in Toronto.
Reprinted from Freedom to Read 2015.
Graeme MacKay is an editorial cartoonist at The Hamilton Spectator.
He was shaken and moved by the terror attack and murder at Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper. I asked Graeme about his feelings and his poignant editorial cartoon published today in The Spec. He shares his thoughts here:
A cartoonist speaks:
"This morning, after a day of reading the news and world reaction to the bloody attack on the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, my emotions continue to be mixed with sadness, anger, and worry. France is a nation that prides itself in its history and tradition of advancing modern democratic principles. For people to be assassinated for merely expressing themselves under the basic protections enshrined in constitutions and typified in similar charters throughout the western world is jarring and worrisome to everyone in the field of producing satire.
Charlie Hebdo delivers a very different breed of satire than what audiences in the mainstream media are served up, especially here in North America. In general, the boundaries that cartoonists work with are far broader in Europe than they are here. In some respects, cartoonists working in the developing world may be forbidden to criticize their politicians, but are given more liberty to go after religion and other sacred cows that would cause tremendous outrage here in North America. At the gutsy Charlie Hebdo magazine, among many of the social targets sought after are any kind of radicalized, conservative, or orthodox religion. Many of the cartoons are illustrative of and perfectly represent the same radical oral messages everyday normal people have in everyday water cooler conversations in any western civilization, yet they'll never make it to print.
While I worry about what happens next in a France full of tensions between free expressionist defenders and an agitated community of Muslim community and immigrants, I can't help but think of the chilling effect this particular incident will have on worldwide satire in general. While the silver lining in this tragedy is a refresher course on the value and importance of free expression and the fraternal declaration of "Je suis Charlie," I worry about the sustainability of my craft.
Here at the Hamilton Spectator, I'm proud to be part of a line of great editorial cartoonists, and I love what I do. However, the hard truth about mainstream media in North America is that we are NOT Charlie. While some argue that running free expressionist cartoons of any degree of offence is a representation of a mature civilized state, we have to remember that society is and always will be made up of a mix of progressive and barbaric people. Freedom of expression therefore needs to be delicately balanced, and one can only hope, as depicted in my cartoon, that eventually the barbarians get crushed, and true freedom of expression will ultimately prevail."
Freedom of speech cannot and will not be silenced. When terrorists take on freedom of expression, we must fight back. The attack on the French satircal newspaper Charlie Hebdo and murder of its staffers and policeman guarding the premises is an assault on our values and democracy.
Spectator editorial cartoonist fought back the way he knows best, through his insightful drawing. Here is his editorial cartoon today, published in The Spec:
Says Graeme: "Expression can always be stifled, but even during the darkest days of repression/terror satire always endures."
Butcher, baker, blogger, reporter. Who is a journalist and what do you have to do to complete an act of journalism?
Is it the active tweeter reporting an accident scene? A citizen journalist reporting on city hall? Someone who publishes a newsletter? The citizens who have livestream feeds and broadcast unedited? Someone with a mainstream news organization, however you might want to define that? A comedian talking about serious social issues who uses comedy to bury the lede but raises important discussion?
Ryerson j-prof Ivor Shapiro, chair of the school's journalism program lays some groundwork for answering the question. In a Nov. 21 article published a Ryerson University journalism site, Shapiro is interviewed and explains why it is important to define journalism and makes a case for outlining what constitutes journalism.
"I’m defining what journalism is," Shapiro says in the story. "Jon Stewart can do journalism, a brain surgeon can do journalism and I can do journalism. Anybody can do journalism. The question isn’t what a journalist is. The question is when is journalism being done? When is Jon Stewart, for example, doing journalism and when is he doing comedy?"
The full story published online at the Ryerson Journalism research centre site is online.
See also earlier post: Are you a journalist?
It’s a newspaper, it’s a novel. It’s damn good journalism.
Today, The Spec published a 32-page exclusive story that involves the 1983 murder of mobster Domenic Racco, several convictions, including two Hamilton men who were wrongly convicted of his murder. The case involves a 16-year- fight for information that went as high as the Supreme Court of Canada. The Spec, using FOI legislation, got sections of a Ontario Provincial Police report that investigated allegations of police misconduct stemming from events that led two Hamilton men to be wrongfully convicted. The series raises many troubling questions about police, justice and freedom of information.
The story is called Railroaded and is a true-crime exclusive written by Steve Buist with photo and video work by Barry Gray.
The Spec is taking the innovative step of publishing it as a 32-page stand alone tab section. For home subscribers, the long form story is included in their regular subscription price. For customers who buy the paper at the stand, a single copy will cost you an extra $1. The special section will also remain on the stands for a week after publication. It the power of the story and we believe people will pay extra for it.
Online, the series has an equally powerful presence with background interviews, photos, video and a seamless interface that allows you to read the story.
It is an exciting project and important story and staff in several departments have come together to make sure it is told broadly, properly and effectively. Newspapers count.
The series is here.
The editorial is here - An Unequal Battle
It's not uncommon for people to keep information from reporters and by extension, society at large. Police, bureaucrats, politicians, to name a few, do this routinely, either because they don't want "their information" which is largely public information out, or they believe they've been granted the role of protector and know what is good for society. In cases, this means information doesn't get out that people want and need.
The case of the heartless communicator takes the cake.
Krystina Henniker received a new heart from a Toronto hospital and when Spec journalist Jon Wells documented her story, she offered him what can only be described as truly an insider's look.
During the operation, a doctor took a photo of the procedure. Krystina's worn heart, with an artificial valve attached to it is on the left, and on the right, a medical professional is holding a new heart - a donor heart that is plump and healthy.
Krystina was given the photo and then shared it with family and friends and then posted it to social media. She shared it with the Spec - she thought it was one way that people would see the value of organ donation.
This was a powerful and symbolic way to tell this story and we were happy to have Krystina's permission. Jon talked to the hospital about the story and he asked the hospital about the photo he was given.
Jon was told the paper could not use the photo because of uncited and unexplained privacy policies. We could not use the photo because showing someone's donor heart breached
The memo reads:
"...what I can tell you is that if the donor heart is visible in the photo, it would pose a confidentiality issue.
As you know, the donor heart cannot be identified.
Hospital policy would require patient consent for all individuals in a photo --- which would not be possible in this case, because of the anonymous nature of this organ donation.
However, if you were to crop or blur out the donor heart, use of the photo should be permissible."
We did use the photo in Jon's feature story on Nov. 8. We had permission from the recipient. As for the heart donor, thank you, for a such a noble and thoughtful act and gift. You live on and we will never know your name or face.
Good newspapering makes a good democracy. An engaged citizenry makes both.
Yesterday, voters across Ontario chose their representatives for municipal office. Today we look forward to new council compositions and debates. There will be much reading of the tea leaves, who won, where and how and what it all means or doesn't mean.
Today, in Hamilton there is also the funeral for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a soldier with Hamilton's Argyll and Sutherland Regiment who was murdered last week while standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. It is sure to be a solemn event with much reflection and remembrance.
On this day after the municipal election I thought it also important to salute all candidates who put their name forward to run for civic office. They have sacrificed family and time and money and given to the community passion and thoughts that are so important to our democracy. Thank you for your contribution.
In Hamilton, here are the candidates who registered to run for municipal office:
Mayoral candidates – City of Hamilton
Eisenberger, Fred (Elected)
Pattison, Michael A.
Candidates for Ward 1 Councillor
Johnson, Aidan (Elected)
Candidates for Ward 2 Councillor
Farr, Jason (Elected)
Candidates for Ward 3 Councillor
Green, Matthew (Elected)
Millette, Byron Wayne
Candidates for Ward 4 Councillor
Merulla, Sam (INC - Elected)
Candidates for Ward 5 Councillor
Collins, Chad (INC - Elected)
Candidates for Ward 6 Councillor
Jackson, Tom (INC - Elected)
Candidates for Ward 7 Councillor
Duvall, Scott (INC - Elected)
Candidates for Ward 8 Councillor
Czerniga, Joshua Peter
Whitehead, Terry (INC - Elected)
Candidates for Ward 9 Councillor
Conley, Doug (Elected)
Candidates for Ward 10 Councillor
Pearson, Maria (INC - Elected)
Candidates for Ward 11 Councillor
Johnson, Brenda (INC - Elected)
Candidates for Ward 12 Councillor
Bryson, K. Grace
Ferguson, Lloyd (INC - Elected)
Iachelli, John F.F.
Candidates for Ward 13 Councillor
Risdale, Marc Rhéal
Vanderbeek, Arlene (Elected)
Candidates for Ward 14 Councillor
Pasuta, Robert (INC - Elected)
Candidates for Ward 15 Councillor
Partridge, Judi (INC - Elected)
Chris Coutts (left) and Jeanylyn Lopez - on a recent Freedom of the Press Tour at The Spectator. A section of the green press in the background came from the Washington Post. It printed the story of Watergate in the 1970s.
Making A Difference
The power of the pen is long and deep.
Eric McGuinness made a career out of reporting and editing. Young journalists Chris Coutts and Jeanylyn Lopez are hoping to follow and lead.
Eric, 68, is retired and a long-time journalist with The Hamilton Spectator. Chris and Jeanylyn are journalism students at Sheridan College in Oakville and came to the Spec recently to see the newsroom and interview Molly Hayes about her reporting and experience working for a daily.
During a conversation with them about news and reporting, we had a discussion about some of the basics: Why journalism? In short, because they believe journalists and good journalism makes a difference and has the power to build communities. Chris and Jeanylyn are two young people who say they have lost faith in the political process which they say feels remote and out of sync with their values. They feel that by listening, interviewing, writing and broadcasting they can directly affect change.
They are a generation that doesn’t know what it’s like to pound out a story on a manual typewriter, the smell of correction fluid, the smear of carbon paper, melted wax on paper galleys or using a process called PMT to transfer photos made in the darkroom to the newspaper. They are a digital generation weaned on social media, a generation that says fast is slow because they demand instant. They are a generation hungry for information and know how to find it.
Eric is old school and that’s something that never can go out of fashion. There is no replacement for reporting, asking questions and presenting people with a story. Eric made a career out of making a difference. He's written about art heists and police blotter and city council, but is best known for his environmental stories - lake levels, air quality, cancer rates, alternative power, conservation areas and tar blobs in the harbour. His reporting continues to make a difference. Eric has terminal cancer. He’s battling it for the third time and this time says he’s shunning treatment. "I want to die as easily and humanely as a loved family pet," he writes today in a op-ed page piece in today’s Spec. His story was also published last week by The Ottawa Citizen.
Eric and Chris and Jeanylyn are linked through their passion for journalism. They want to change the world. Together they connect the dots for us all.
The conversation of drones used to be reserved for a land and time far, far away. Rod Serling and Star Wars stuff. That day is here.
Drones that carry photo and video gear are portable, affordable (they start at around $1,000) fit in a backpack, are battery-powered and shoot incredible high-quality still and video images. You can build your own or buy one retail. Drones, like so much of our technology today, are in use and outside of the legislative curve.
How should they be used, who uses them, do they require an operator's licence, how many can fly in a defined airspace? There are dozens of questions about ethics and privacy.
The Hamilton Spectator has published still and video images taken using drone technology. One of the subjects was a flyover of the construction work at Tim Hortons field. We don't own one or employ an operator - instead the photos are coming to us as many other photos do - through freelancers, social media or companies and agencies who've employed people to take the photos for them. Earlier this year, The Spec wrote a story about the Ontario Provincial Police testing drone technology to capture images at accident scenes as a way to clear sites quicker.
See video flyover of The Hamilton Spec: Download Drone TheSpec
Yan Theoret is a Hamilton videographer. He is a camera operator and owns a drone. Last week he shot footage of the crippled Skyway Bridge (see pix below) after it was damaged by an alleged drunk truck driver. Yan stood below the bridge, piloted his drone up and around and shot footage which was used by CHCH TV after being legally vetted. Yan says there are many factors that a drone operator has to consider: Where are they piloting the vehicle from? Is it public land, federal land, municipal? Is the air space restricted, such as an airport? Can you get permission to take off from private property and shoot something is that is of public interest happening on another property - a fire, a crash, a crime scene, a sporting event?
Yan's drone is a $5,000 customized off-the-shelf model. It has a range of one kilometre up, about a kilometre out and can be in the air for 15 minutes. His drone, like others, gives us views that we haven't been able to traditionally access. We are a digital culture that wants more and better photos and video.
Yan is a drone pioneer in Hamilton. He is aware of the pros and cons and the larger conversations around drone use. He's advocating for a conversation about drones and says there should be regs and standards for drone pilots. He wants responsible drone use and says it's a tool that media will be using with increasing frequency. The Skyway Bridge crash is a good example. The story affected many, the economic damage is still being counted and there is undeniable public interest. Media needs to tell the story and show the damage to the bridge. The Spec commissioned an airplane and Spec photographer John Rennison took photos that showed the damage. Yan stood on the ground and piloted his drone (his pixs below). His images are incredible and detailed - you can count the rivets on the beams. There is no doubt using the drone is quicker, less expensive and extremely versatile. Yan is thinking about responsible use - we know others are not and won't and it's only a matter of time when we write about a drone crash, or competing drones at site or unethical use of a drone to capture images.
For media, this technology is impressive and will serve the public interest with better photo and video storytelling.
For drones, the when is here. Now it's a matter of how.
SKYWAY BRIDGE PHOTOS COURTESY OF YAN THEORET:
What is a newspaper's responsibility or duty to publish information that is public and in the public interest?
I raised the question last month in a post in this blog and on thespec.com about courts and crime. When a person is criminally charged, should a newspaper and/or its website publish their name?
The background to the debate is captured in last month's post.
As part of that post, I created a non-scientific survey on the topic and the results from 229 respondents are broken out in a graphic below. Interestingly, the majority of respondents said they want names published and overwhelmingly, respondents said they want the newspaper to follow the case to its conclusion. Sounds fair. But I can't reconcile the results from the third question: if an accused's name is published, should it contain other identifying information such as age and street address. Overwhelmingly, respondents said no, just name only. That one is a bit of head scratcher for me.
Survey results and relevant comments from respondents who replied to thespec.com are below:
|Name only if they are charged with a serious crime (murder, sexual assault, major fraud, etc...)||83||36%|
|Only if the paper is committed to following the case to its conclusion.||144||65%|
|Print the name and let the chips fall where they may.||16||7%|
|Print the name and if the paper is made aware of an outcome, then follow up.||55||25%|
|Only publish the name online.||0||0%|
|Only publish the name in print.||5||2%|
|Yes, if it's available.||61||27%|
|No. Just the name.||145||65%|
|That's the only time it should be published.||16||7%|
As journalists, we like to think we shine lights in dark corners.
"Sunshine is the best disinfectant," is the newsroom saying.
Sometimes nature has a way of backing us up. Last night, just after a torrential downpour and Ghostbusters-like skies, Pam and Chris Young were driving by the Spectator and watched as this rainbow pierced the gloom and took shape over The Spectator building.
Where there is dark, there is light.
Thank you, Young family. Appreciate your initiative and interest in the newspaper.
photo courtesy Pam and Chris Young
Newspapers provide a lot of information about people. That includes names, ages, profession, details about a person's background. Information that has great public value and is in the public interest. Senstive information like a criminal record.
When a person is criminally charged, should a newspaper and/or its website publish their name?
It's important to be able to know who police - or other agents of the state - have charged and when the cases are being heard.
If a name is printed, what is the newspaper's obligation or responsibility to follow the case through to its conclusion? Let me know by following this link to a survey I've constructed: Take the Courts & Crime survey
I'm curious what you have to say and I'll publish the results.
Newspapers across the country and North America have differing approaches. Some publish all the names and always follow up; some rarely follow up; some follow up when they can. Others never publish an accused's name until the newsroom is sure it will be followed up or it holds off on identity until the conculsion of a trial.
The pros and cons, in general: Pros: transparency, public interest and right to know. Cons: Invasion of privacy, guilt or innocence hasn't been established, depending in type of crime there is the possiblity of created a stigma that is difficult to remove.
The stories we tell are important. How we tell them, and the information we use to back up those stories is increasingly under scrutiny.
We use a variety of sources to tell stories, including anonymous sources. There's a big discussion about what exactly that means. Is the source confidential? Anonymous? Unnamed? There are different meanings to each term and different interpretations. As newspaper staff, we know, or ought to know, the identity of our sources. Readers don't have the same insight and that's why it's important as newsgathers we have internal discussions, codes and do our due diligence. It makes our stories stronger and gives us the power of credibility.
Hamilton is a city of connections and stories and there are two prominent lines that run through its history: One is James Street, a ribbon of road connecting the escarpment to the harbour. The second is a long line of ink in the pages of The Hamilton Spectator.
Both feature prominently in the clever and entertaining performance of James Street, described in promo literature as “a musical mad dash through the history of Hamilton.”
It’s a wonderful play at the Artword Artbar and runs until May 11 (call though, rumour has it all spots are sold out 905 543 8512). It is written and directed by Ronald Weihs and features original music from Spec journalist Mark McNeil.
James Street and The Hamilton Spectator intertwine with one another in this performance and to me it’s a reminder of great a role newspapers, storytelling and journalism play in the life of communities.
James Street, the play, has its roots in an innovative 2010 Spec newspaper section The Story of James, the brainchild of Mark McNeil. James Street, the play, draws heavily on stories from the Spec and the Spec itself. The play features a Town Crier (played by Jeremy Shand, also a Spec employee) from the 1850s. The Crier’s life intersects with a Hamilton resident (played by Charlie Chiarelli) from 2014. They cover much ground in their conversation including some insightful, even biting commentary on new media and old media and people’s need for information. The play draws on a bid rigging scandal involve office furniture during the city’s infancy, a story told in the pages of the paper. It tells the story of bootleggers Bessie Starkman and Rocco Perri, sultry murderess Evelyn Dick, the story of Hamilton at war, the city’s escarpment, buildings that have come and gone and a love of trolleys.
It’s a very cool play and McNeil as a songwriter and vocalist draws on his years of reporting to tell the city. In one scene, all cast members sing and dance with a newspaper and extol the virtues of the daily news (oh such joy, I was crying at this point. God bless the newspaper). Here’s a sample from one of the songs:
I am just a newsboy
With a stack of papers
Filled with news
That happened yesterday
I stand here every morning
Calling out first warning
Of the headlines
That made the front page
Read all about it
Get your paper today
And even if you don't like what it says
you can always turn the page
There's song and dance and acting and stories throughout and it’s a fine performance that warrants extended play in the city. Hopefully Artbar can find a way to go into extra innings. There’s been much talk in this city about emerging culture and a growing creative class. After walking out of Artbar and thinking about the performers in James Street you realize the city’s creativity has arrived - in fact it's been here all along.
What makes this play particularly special is the strong narrative. It’s the story of a city and the newspaper that runs through it.
Jim Poling is a Managing Editor at
The Hamilton Spectator. Here, he discusses The Spectator’s online and print presence and gives you a chance to join in the conversation.