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If I were still a journalist

December 12th, 2007 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues

(Well, to be fair, I probably am really. I don’t happen to work in the field at the moment, but I certainly still have my journalistic mind).

If I were a journalist, and I happened to be working for one of the Quebecor papers, with my work posted on canoe.ca, I would be extremely frustrated with the web people. Reporters have consistently had problems with layout people who write the headlines. Sometimes the story is misunderstood and the headlines is out of whack with the actual news hook. Sometimes the reporter has gone out of their way to be careful not to libel anyone and the headline writer (sometimes a trained journalist, sometimes someone who just doesn’t know any better) manages to bring on a lawsuit all on their own.

When I was working in Northwestern Ontario we often had a problem with the web people teasing a story with both a headline and a photo that was completely unrelated because they just didn’t bother to read past the headline or the lead in the printed paper. Of course, this can take a more serious turn.

You have web people who are probably not trained journalists, and may be called upon to write a tease to a story. This morning canoe.ca broke one of the basic libel laws in their naming of the charges and the charged in the same sentence, thereby linking the two in the reader’s mind even though the charged is innocent until proven guilty.  Click on the link and the story itself does no such thing – in fact, the lead doesn’t mention the names of either the victim or the charged person. The question becomes who will get named in the lawsuit?

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