Oakville Homes

April 20, 2009

Are mainstream newspapers really investigative??

You will read at the bottom my response to an article written by Kathy English, Public Editor for the Toronto Star.  Titled: “Stories that make a difference“, it focuses on how good the Star is at being an “investigative newspaper”. As you will read from my response, I beg to differ on their analysis of how much effort they really put into being an “investigative newspaper”. If you go to the link, so do a lot of other people.

She states: “At its best, investigative journalism reveals matters of importance that some may not want to be exposed to the public light.”  Well, we know that the fact that Mattamy Homes pleaded guilty to environmental crimes never reached the public light via the T0ronto Star and I believe the Ottawa and Bracebridge problems never did as well.  But then, in all fairness to the Star, they did uncover the sordid details of one of their main advertisers in the act of donating money to various causes and winning awards.  I guess we have a difference of opinion in what “investigative reporting” is and just how to achieve it via big advertising dollars.  Do you think I could advertise this blog in the Star and get exposure?  🙂

We all know that newspapers will favour either the Republicans/Democrats,Conservatives or Liberals (depending what side of the border you are and if you’re for or against Obama or Harper) based on the political viewpoints of their publishers.    They have opinion pages that allow personal viewpoints to be brought forward – a good thing.   But, as a reader, we hope that the NEWS is largely unbiased and only gives us the facts – facts we will interpret and put our OWN bias to it.  Well, the Star may talk the talk but I think they need to learn how to walk the walk.  Investigative reporting – I’ve done more on my blog than they have and I’m not even being paid.

Dear Ms. English


I originally wasn’t going to comment on your piece dated April 18th (IN 6 “Stories that make a difference”) but, the more I thought about it, the more I felt that the whole story wasn’t being told.  No, it was a good article and made a few good points but, it may have “talked the talk” but we are talking about a paper that no longer “walks the walk”.


You mention that the Star is “clearly in a minority of Canadian newspapers in its current commitment to investigative journalism”.    You further state that “investigative reporting as integral to its mission of serving the public trust and championing social justice issues”.  Well, we have seen your paper publically display the income of a few police officers who are working hard and, you recently hounded a police senior officer to his house even in order to further expose his “internal” charges.  I am sure the public at large out there are really concerned on how this will affect their own lives. 


But, when you are given solid information that Ford has built F150 trucks with internal manufacturing faults and does not even tell the consumer, you ignore something that not only affects a lot of people but, puts their lives at risk.  Ford was even selling these vehicles knowing they had these faults and didn’t warn the consumer to look out for certain signs.  No, they just let the consumer pay for the repairs.  I guess you consider that good corporate citizenship.


And, Mattamy Homes?  Here we have an award winning builder pleading guilty to an environmental crime and it doesn’t appear in your paper nor the other issues in Kanata and Bracebridge, which are covered by much smaller news agencies.


What is common between these two?  They are major advertisers in your paper. 


Your editor Kevin Donovan is quoted as saying: “”We do these stories to make a difference.  We investigate allegations of wrongdoing and when those allegations are borne out we tell stories that, we hope, make decision-makers take notice. If we are lucky, we bring injustices to light and right wrongs.”  Only those injustices that perk the interest of your reporters and don’t offend your main advertisers it seems is what you write about.  Let’s face it, money talks and so do advertisers.  So, please don’t talk about righting wrongs when you are selective on whom you take on –   non-advertisers and I guess those who can’t defend themselves publically.  Thank god for Blogs.  At least we have an opportunity to bring the truth out into the open.  And you wonder why there is declining readership?  It is called credibility and the Star’s biases are one reason you’re losing readership.

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  1. Here is just a sampling of the work done by the star – note that very little of it is related to politics.

    Charities, drugs, nannies, fertilizers, limousine companies and the list goes on and on. I don’t see that kind of breadth in your blog here. Perhaps you’ve done more work than is apparent on this blog?

    Comment by Laurie Pringle — April 20, 2009 @ 10:06 pm | Reply

  2. Laurie… yes, you are right about the areas that have been uncovered by the Star and no, as an individual I haven’t brought this breadth of topics out in my blog. My blog focuses on the building industry and why the province should pass legislation to allow potential homeowners the right to hire a house inspector for a purchase, something the Star hasn’t supported (legislated right). But I also wanted to point out that the Star has been given proof that Ford sold F150 trucks with built in errors and that Mattamy homes has been guilty of environmental crimes and putting children’s lives at risk. None of this has ever been brought out by the Star and maybe because Ford and Mattamy Homes are prime advertisers. I question their level of investigative reporting and just who they go after. Those that don’t advertise and those that can’t fight back. In my old occupation, I would have been hung out to dry if I’d been that selective and biased in my investigations. Appreciate your comment and glad you did point out some of the worthwhile investigations the Star actually did.

    Comment by Lance Naismith — April 21, 2009 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

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