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Toronto Star columnist slapped down by own paper's public editor

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Double J, Jul 11, 2009.

  1. Double J

    Double J Active Member

    I will admit to a healthy amount of schadenfreude in posting this, because I dislike the columnist in question (she likes to refer to herself as "Madame Z"), but I also say it's nice to know that columnists who think they're above the law when it comes to good taste can, at least some of the time, expect to face some consequences.


    It's distasteful to me to repeat what she wrote, but context – and making public amends to Farber – demands it.

    Briefly: A discussion ensued on Zerbisias's blog about the controversy over participation in this year's Pride Week parade by the group Queers Against Israel Apartheid (QAIA). A blog commenter named Susan stated that the CJC did not attempt to stop QAIA from marching in the Pride parade and, in fact, had participated in the parade.

    Indeed, Farber, though he had stated on CBC Radio that "politics" did not belong in the parade, did join the parade. He marched with Kulanu Toronto, which describes itself as a Jewish social group for the gay community.

    Here's what Zerbisias wrote: "Yes Susan, imagine my surprise when I saw Bernie Farber identifying himself as queer by joining a pro-Israel gay rights group in the parade. Funny, because I had never seen him in the march before.

    "Funny because I didn't know he was gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that."

    Farber is not gay, as was made clear in several subsequent comments Zerbisias herself allowed to be posted on her blog. Those commenters praised the CJC head for being "gay positive."

    Zerbisias knows Farber is not gay. She says she intended the post to be "ironic" and she expected he would know that.

    The in-print smackdown that has followed, according to public editor Kathy English, not only addresses Zerbisias' tastelessness, it spells out clearly for all Star writers-turned-BLOGGERS! that the rules of journalism still apply to their online work: "I understand these digital tools offer new ways of communicating with readers. But I think maintaining the Star's credibility in this new media world demands that fair play, common sense and good journalistic judgment must matter as much in the Star's digital spaces as its printed pages."

    I don't know whether there is actual punishment attached to the chastising, but I don't think anything can top "Madame Z" getting told off in print by her own bosses. Even better - since English, like Zerbisias, is female, the columnist will find it somewhat difficult to put her usual blame-the-man-for-everything spin on the situation.
  2. sportsguydave

    sportsguydave Active Member

    Double J:

    Thanks for posting that. It's encouraging to see that some places still want to enforce journalistic standards ... even on the seasoned types like us.

    We can expect more of this to crop up, with all the "IReporters" and "citizen journalists" popping out of the woodwork.
  3. share24

    share24 Member

    But, it's not the citizen journalists and IReporters were talking about. It's the Jason Whitlock's and "Madam Z" columnists...the real pros.

    The newspaper industry wasn't turned upside down by bloggers.
  4. Double J

    Double J Active Member

    And the Mitch Alboms and Maureen Dowds who also don't think rules apply to them, although in those cases that's apparently true.
  5. sportsguydave

    sportsguydave Active Member

    Absolutely ... I guess I worded my post a little clumsily. I wanted to say that if we don't apply journalistic standards to the pros, then there won't be any way to apply them to the IReporters. Hopefully Madame Z will take a hint.
  6. clutchcargo

    clutchcargo Active Member

    Glad I don't read the Toronto papers.
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