Friday, June 25, 2010

The VSun Goes Down On RailGate....And....We Who Cannot Be Named.



Final Edition Update @ 8:00pm: At bottom of post

In an editorial today, the Vancouver Sun goes into protection mode and, using the pre-trial publication ban as a shield, pretends that all that evidence that we (and they) knows exists doesn't:

This trial within a trial raises the stakes for readers and the media. Unlike a trial in which only the fate of the accused is at stake, the judgments made by readers and viewers on the basis of reports can have a material effect.

Readers are sitting in judgment of politicians, which means their perceptions of the evidence could affect the outcome of the next election. Since the trial began, the jurors have heard a lot of allegations from both the prosecution and the defence.....


The judge has cautioned the jury that they are to consider only the evidence of the witnesses, not the allegations made by lawyers, either in their statements or in questions.

We need to keep the same caution in mind as we follow the reports of this case. Journalists reporting from the court recognize they have a duty to attribute allegations so that the public can fairly assess whether they have any substance......

But, still, even if their journalists (and, presumably, their editors even more so) are careful NOT to actually go back and search for publically available evidence that was NOT released during pre-trial hearing (ie. stuff that, if it is factual, can be used by anyone to either support or refute something that a lawyer or a witness says - by way of example, see this), that does not mean that, apparently, the VSun (or it's corporate affiliates) might not infer, 'inadvertently' something misleading through their headlines.

Yes, you read that right, the Vancouver Sun is telling you that sometimes their own headlines might be potentially misleading. To wit:

....Because of the necessary brevity of headlines, it is not always clear from a headline alone whether the allegations being referred to are grounded in evidence or merely suppositions floated to elicit a response from a witness.

By itself, the phrase "court told" in a headline provides no context as to who was doing the telling or how much weight the allegation should be given.....

Hmmmmm.....I'm not entirely sure about that....After all, was it just an issue of 'brevity' that led to something as flat-out wrong as this, which was repeated over and over and over and over again by numerous VSun affiliated 'news' outlets?

And then, finally, of course, there is the obligatory almost/kinda/sorta swipe at those who must not be named.....Bloggers!

....People who read our reports will get the information they need to understand what qualifies as evidence as compared to allegations made by lawyers.....

Sure thing.

But, again, VSun Editors (and presumably their Bosses too that approve the wurlitzering of their stuff out to affiliates) need to realize that there is a thing called the public record.

And these days it is no longer hidden away in far-flung libraries and/or dusty newspaper morgues or even within the well-coiffed heads of the proMedia Pundocracy.

For example....

If somebody wanted to know, say, who was aware of the relationship between a certain RCMP inspector named Kevin DeBruyckere who was a key investigator in the case that led to the charges being laid against the RailGate accused, and, say, the B.C. Liberal party's executive director Kelly Reichert, a fine fellow who works closely with, and presumably talks quite often with, Premier Gordon Campbell on a myriad of matters.....


All they'd have to do is use t(e)h Google.

And/or type those two names into the search box at the top left corner of this page.



Citizen J. from Courtroom 54 has a very personal take on the editorial in question up at Mary's place.....I found the following couple of passages particularly insightful because they get right to the heart of the matter by making a comparison that, for once, has absolutely nothing whatsovever to do with Glen Clark's deck:

"......We (ie. the public gallery and the jury) have heard that the RCMP operated a full surveillance operation at a dinner meeting at Villa Del Lupo restaurant (that) former Finance Minister Gary Collins had with officials from Omnitrax on December 12, 2003. This dinner meeting occurred during the bidding process for the Roberts Bank rail line. This has never been disputed by the Special Prosecutor. Isn't that evidence?

Ironically, the front page in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesday wrote about CSIS officials making allegations regarding BC politicians under the control of foreign governments. I guess those allegations are worthy of reporting without any evidence because it makes for a great headline and will sell some papers....."



Anonymous said...

Shameful editorial by the sun.

Canwest donates big money to the BC Liberals. The government buys millons of dollars in advertising every year and maybe this editorial was in response to a request by the BC Liberals?

This is tabloid journalism in it's purest form.

Tony Martinson said...

Well, duh.

I mean, c'mon. No one who understands our judicial system or believes in the concept of justice will disagree with the sentiment our friends at the Sun have expressed. No, really. Duh.

I eagerly await the editorial on Monday wherein they offer the same admonishment about some poor schmuck charged with some petty property crime that they're covering. In fact, we may never see an editorial on a subject other than what constitutes the truth in a criminal trial. They may have to keep running that particular piece, changing the names as necessary.

Memory fades with time, but I don't recall the Sun running anything similar when a certain Clark, G, was in the dock. Funny that.

Evil Eye said...

Fish wrap - that is all the Vancouver sun is. Just imagine if the tables were turned and BC Railgate was an NDP job, I would wager screaming headlines would predominate on a daily basis.

Vancouver Sun - Pravda both party newspapers, better suited as fish wrap.

Anonymous said...

"People who read our reports will get the information they need to understand what qualifies as evidence as compared to allegations made by lawyers."

So the only information that is accurate is what the Vancouver Sun tells us, and that's true because they told us it!

That's how the bible works. Do it because it's written here, and by the way, I wrote it:)

Ian said...

Here's what's really galling about that editorial. We all know the political roll of the Sun editorial staff, but what about reporters?

My understanding, perhaps mistakenly based on old movies like Front Page, is that reporters faced with tips about evidence in pre-trial hearings go out and investigate. Shockingly false.

The truth of the matter is that there has been lots of "evidence" dumped that has not been followed up. A better editorial would say, presented with these kind of evidentuary hints, go out and dig.

Ian said...

OMG, role not roll. Geez, it's way too early.

Anonymous said...

The Vancouver Sun is trying to do a bit of influnce peddling and meddling - one would assume, to try and help save Gordon Campbell and his sick government.

No doubt the paper will not also advise thepublic that the Judge's decision has nothing to do with what the newspaper would like to see happen.

Hhhhm, the fact that the newspaper would defend a corrupt and dishonest government in it's actions, certainly goves pause for thought.

Fortunately, Campbell documented everything by making the election promises in writing and once elected, broke every one and many more. Thus giving British Columbia a government that can absolutely not be trysted. That is all old history but the paper has a very short and selective memory.

Still early days in the trial, and I for one, hope that the truth will emerge and those that have broken laws, get suitable punishment. That is laws before Campbell started meddling and changing some ! Ten or eleven moths still left and there are lots of witnesses and documentation to go through, providing lots of evidence that will be suitably noted by the jury.

I am sure the attempt at approaching the jury members, for whatever reason, will not go unnoticed by the jury as a whole - and most likely will be looked at as an attempt to influence.