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Journalism: Going low because you can

Journalism: Going low because you can

Maybe it is a generational thing, but there are times when I am embarrassed to be associated with the news business. Such was the case Friday when Colin D’Mello, a CTV reporter, who seems to be normally a nice enough guy, went after Doug Ford for being photographed the week earlier at his cottage in snowmobile gear. The implication in D’Mello’s question was that there was something wrong with Ford taking a break when Ottawa was in lockdown, and that there was something Ford could have been doing to end the crisis which went undone as a result of Ford snowmobiling. Otherwise, why the accusatory tone?

Here is the clip

Unless Ford forgot to take his cell phone to the cottage, there is essentially no difference between what Ford could do from the cottage and what he would do from his home in Etobicoke, because either way, he would not have likely been at his office at Queen’s Park, since police had cordoned the area off to deter a threatened truck convoy. The blockade on the Ambassador Bridge had not yet begun, so the blockade was essentially an Ottawa event on the day Ford went to his cottage. Whether you like Ford or not, I have yet to hear anyone credibly suggest he is lazy, and unless there is proof to the contrary, Ford has to be taken at his word when he says he is on his phone from morning to night. Until a couple of years ago he was giving out his phone number to ordinary folks, but had to stop when he was predictably flooded with calls.

D’Mello’s indignation seems to be misplaced, and frankly unworthy of someone representing a first-class news organization like CTV. “Gotcha” Journalism should be used sparingly, and when used, should pertain to a matter of real substance, not this click bait. It was reassuring to hear a Queens Park veteran reporter like Keith Leslie, say that D’Mello’s question was more likely to do harm to the image of the news media than it would hurt Ford.

Still, when D’Mello tweeted the breathtaking news about l’affaire Ford, the posting garnered thousands of views, likes and hundreds of comments, of which the following were very much in the minority.

A surprising number of responses were critical of the use of the word “insurrection” to describe the …er, insurrection. With some justification politicians are accused of being in a bubble, but increasingly, the same can be said for the ranks of the media. A survey by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism last year reported that only 45 percent of Canadians and 29 percent of Americans agreed with the statement, “I think you can trust most news most of the time.” Those are terrible numbers, and they are not going to improve when mainstream media allow themselves to stoop to petty stunts.

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