Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Classy Apology

Regular readers of this blog may be aware of my almost boundless enthusiasm for The Toronto Star. I deeply admire its progressive mission, and I find its roster of excellent columnists informative and thought-provoking. I have come to regard it as a trusted source of news and opinion.

It was therefore a bit of a shock to realize how badly below acceptable journalistic standards it recently fell when it published a story about Ontario Liberal MPP Magaret Best who, after being dropped from her cabinet position in the new Wynne government, took a medical leave, which she is still on. The story was accompanied by a photo of Best and her daughter vacationing in Mexico. As I supposed most readers did, I drew what seemed to be some obvious conclusions about Best's behaviour.

There was only one problem, however, with the story; the photo in question was taken, not recently, but in 2008, from a picture posted on Best's Facebook page.

Upon realizing the error, the Star printed a full correction, directing readers on Page 1 to go to A2 for the complete apology. In this morning's edition, there is a full column by The Star's Public Editor, Kathy English, explaining and apologizing for what she calls the paper's egregious error; without any equivocation or self-justification, English makes it very clear how far below standards the paper fell.

I have to respect the fact that the paper is holding itself fully accountable for this terrible mistake, and has even gone so far as to remove the offending article from its website. In my mind, this contrasts sharply with the temporizing and vague explanations issued by The Globe and Mail's Sylva Stead and editor-in-chief John Stackhouse when Margaret Wente's plagiarism became known.

If anyone wants to see an apology that really isn't an apology, read the Globe links above, or better yet, look at Wente's own 'explanation' for her failure which, it turned out, was only one of several instances of plagiarism, all of which the Globe has excused.

Despite the decline of the print medium, in my view it still plays a vital role in protecting our increasingly precarious democracy. Showing disdain for that public trust, as I believe the Globe did, does nothing to advance that mission. Because of its unequivocal, classy and very public mea culpa, the Toronto Star retains both my trust and my subscription.


  1. Lorne, I prefer TorStar too and, by their circulation numbers, Canadians seem to like that paper far more than the Globe or NatPo. That said, TorStar does have Rosie DiManno who seemingly struggles to emulate Blatchford.

  2. I feel a certain ambivalence toward Rosie, Mound. She did exemplary work covering the abuses of police power at the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto, which I respected given her rightish propensities; other times, as you suggest, her treatment of subject matter is too much influenced by her general philosophic orientation.