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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Just asking for a basic level of journalistic integrity



I went to a breakfast this morning in London, Ontario. The monthly social event is attended by those who once worked for the media in town but who have now, for whatever reason, found themselves put out to pasture.

It is always fun catching up on the latest media rumours, but this morning was a little more interesting than usual. I learned that Joe Warmington, the award-winning Toronto Sun columnist, wrote a story and posted it to the Internet before the event had occurred. Oops!

According to Now, a weekly news and entertainment tabloid serving Toronto, The Toronto Sun declared Rob Ford's appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show a "victory for Ford" even before the writer, Joe Warmington could have seen the program. The Ford segment was taped at approximately 9:40 p.m. Eastern Standard Time but the date stamp on Warmington's first report was 9:13 p.m.

In talking about a program he couldn't possibly have seen, Warmington said the Toronto mayor's appearance "was vintage Rob Ford."

The Now report goes on to say that Canada.com's Marc Weisblott first tweeted out the column at 10:31 ("Joe Warmington reviews a show before it airs"). Fifteen minutes later, amid suggestions from those in studio that the appearance had been a disaster, the Sun pulled it down. (It has disappeared as well from Google's cache.)

One exchange that hasn't gone missing is the Twitter tweets between National Post columnist Bruce Arthur and Toronto Sun staffer Cynthia McLeod.



In the ensuing conversation I thought the responses by Alex Colangelo and Stan the Man Chan were among the best. Colangelo offered, "So I guess perfection is waiting for an event to occur before writing about it?" Stan clarified the problem that McLeod seemed unable to fathom: "No one's asking for perfection. We're just asking for a basic level of journalistic integrity."

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