Allegedly, reportedly and other things that don’t cover your ass

Wow. It seems the media have moved beyond the irresonsible, subtle and somewhat understandable libelling of yesterday to the outwardly contemptable libelling that makes people hate the press.

I present Exhibit A, which was actually a supplemental piece to another libelous story.

Or if you prefer your news CanWestified, here’s Exhibit B and Exhibit C.

These stories move beyond libellously reporting that the husband was charged in the death of the wife to acting on the assumption that he did it. I honestly don’t know what to say. There’s no excuse for this kind of thing. I hate that papers report charges in the way they did yesterday, but I can almost understand it. It’s a thin line of distinction between “John Doe was charged with murder. Jane Doe’s body was found in a ravine,” and “John Doe was charged with murder after Jane Doe’s body was found in a ravine.”

Today’s examples though are inexcusable and make me angry. They’ve convicted this guy. The media need a good kick in the ass. I’m doing the MediaScout tomorrow, and I plan on going off on this subject a little bit. Given that their subscriber list is a lot longer and more diverse than mine, maybe someone will take notice.

That’s all you have?
Yea, sorry. I was actually seriously thinking of taking some time off this site for awhile, before this Edmonton case broke. I think I need to recharge my batteries a bit, because I haven’t been giving you guys the kind of material I was churning out even just a few weeks ago. To that end, I’m not going to update the site tomorrow. I’ve been asked to the do the Scout again, and I really want to focus on that, cause I plan to go guns blazing on the libel thing.

I’ll be back Monday after a weekend of CFL football and camping. I’ll be regenerated and reinvigorated and ready to take on the press once more.

So have a good weekend. And check out tomorrow’s Scout. Barring something unexpected, it should be good. Oh, and check out the comments from yesterday’s post, there was an interesting back and forth on all things libelous.


  1. Wrong again, Joe.

    It’s not libel to write about someone who was charged with a crime, blatantly insinuate that they are guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt and that they are generally a menace to society. I mean, if it’s not a journalist’s job to extrapolate from “charged with” to “guilty of” then the terrorists have already won.

  2. I liked the story in the Citizen today about why criminals always return to the scene of the crime and draws a direct comparison to the husband. The lead goes like this “Offenders often return to the scene of the crime, sometimes for pragmatic reasons, like they want to see what police know, other times because they get a thrill from it, and even because they’ve just become impatient, experts said yesterday.
    Their comments come in the wake of charges laid against Michael White of Edmonton in the death of his wife, Liana, less than a day after his search team found her body in a ditch.”
    I don’t think there’s any insinuation here at all.

  3. However, past high-profile cases have had a similar story line: A person goes missing. A spouse or acquaintance stands before the cameras to express grief or concern — then turns up as the suspect. It is a trend fuelled by the high-octane media coverage of major crimes.

    You don’t say.

    This is like Maxheleau all over again. . .

  4. This is a bit of a tanget, but ryan’s post about terrorism made me think of it.

    Apparently, the Bush administration came out against a bipartisan bill that would allow US journalists to keep sources confidential unless there was, “an imminent and actual threat to national security.”

    As Eric Umansky kicks Today’s Papers (like an American MediaScout) in Slate:

    “A Justice Dept. official told a Senate committee that such a law would not only be ‘bad public policy’ but would impair the government’s ability to, of course, ‘fight terrorism.'”


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