Archive for February, 2017

In Defense of the Truth

I never really thought that Donald Trump being elected the President of the United States would have much of an effect on us here in Canada.

But now I’m beginning to see that through TV screens and laptop speakers, Trump has already crossed our border and is cementing the long-standing yet wildly unfounded notion that the press and its reporters are gossip-hungry vultures who get off on destroying innocent people’s reputations with unsubstantiated “fake news,” to borrow some classic fear-mongering vernacular from Mr. Trump himself.

In the early morning hours of February 14, 2017, a 58-year-old Winnipeg Transit driver named Irvine Fraser was stabbed and killed while he was working. Brian Kyle Thomas, 22, has been charged with the crime.

In the hours and days that followed, we heard from colleagues of Fraser about what a fantastic person he was, and there was an outpouring of sympathy from the community of Winnipeg in the wake of a tragedy that most people had wrapped up nicely with a bow inside their heads: “Upstanding, blue-collar family man slain on job by young punk.”

On February 16, the Winnipeg Free Press published this article: Winnipeg Transit driver was facing serious criminal charges prior to his death. In short, the article shatters the aforementioned illusion that mourners had previously bought into by bringing to light allegations of repeated sexual abuse by Fraser on a now-adult woman, beginning when she was as young as four years old.

First and foremost, I’d like to express that the top priority of any credible/ethical newsroom — which the Winnipeg Free Press is, I assure you — is to find the truth and publish it. Not three quarters of the truth, or only the attractive parts of it; all of it. This is a fact, which means it’s not something that can be debated, despite any “alternative facts” you might have.

Sometimes, the truth is uncovered in segments, over time, or the truth is misreported and needs to be corrected and updated as a story unfolds. But the press has an enduring obligation to report as much of the truth as they’re aware of, so the public can make an informed decision on how to feel, but also so that they aren’t lying by omission.

The reason I wanted to write something today, is because some of the comments on the WFP’s story infuriated me. Not just because they were painfully ignorant and uneducated, but because they were all just continuing to roll this snowball of hatred for the press down the hill, helping it gather more and more momentum.

01

This was the highest-rated comment on the story, with 29 Likes. A suggestion that this professional newsroom went out of their way to “dig up dirt” on the victim in order to “take pressure off the attacker.” Normally I would completely dismiss a comment as absurd as this, but the fact that 29 other people agreed with what she said is, frankly, terrifying.

02

On the flip side, and to provide a small glimmer of hope, we also have comments like Jay’s. What’s most important here, is his repeated use of variations of “possibly.” This is something most people don’t seem to understand. Journalists, if educated properly, have the utmost respect for an individual’s right to be considered innocent until proven guilty in court. No one is reporting that this man molested a child.

I don’t work in journalism anymore, and as much respect and appreciation as I have for those who continue to bring us the facts in a world that is becoming more and more hostile toward the media, it’s days like today that make me so thankful I chose to get out of that industry. There are far better-suited people with more patience to continue beating the dead horse of trying to reason with a general population that is somehow becoming denser in a world of infinite information.

I guess my conclusion here is that if you don’t trust the press, or believe they report to their own narrative, please stop consuming their product, or do so more quietly. Because, ironically, in the name of trying to expose these “corrupt newsrooms,” you’re the one telling the biggest lie of all.