Hayden Kenez tuned in to NewsTalk 1010 last week only to hear Christie Blatchford tell the world he called her a douchebag. How one student journalist learned the hard way how damaging the media can be when they get the story wrong.

Hayden Kenez tuned in to NewsTalk 1010 last week only to hear Christie Blatchford tell the world he called her a douchebag. How one student journalist learned the hard way how damaging the media can be when they get the story wrong.

For a journalism student eager to distinguish himself, a short stint on the radio may seem like a godsend. Instead, I listened in horror as Christie Blatchford told the world I called her a douchebag. The more she shared on NewsTalk 1010’s well-known show The Live Drive with John Tory, the more I felt as if my future career was tanking on-air.

Let’s be clear: I did not call Blatchford a douchebag. I did, however, take and tweet a photo on November 16 of a whiteboard in St. James Park announcing the nominees for Occupy Toronto’s “Right Wing Douchebag” awards – essentially breaking the story. In addition to Blatchford, other nominees of the dubious distinction included Chris Selley, Ezra Levant, and Michael Coren. 

When my photo later appeared on the NewsTalk 1010 website without attribution, I emailed Christie, who I had interviewed earlier this fall for a school assignment, asking if she could mention I’d taken the photograph; she was set to be interviewed on the station later that evening about the protests.

As Christie explained to me afterwards, she had only glanced at my message before going on air with Tory.  Misinterpreting my plea for photo credit as taking responsibility for the award, she expressed her regret at giving me an open letter of reference, only to be backstabbed and referred to as a “douchebag”.

“This is my thanks, I guess,” said Blatchford.         

Tory also chimed in, urging future employers to “take note” of my “bridge burning” tactics. 

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By this time, I was both horrified and infuriated.  My hands were shaking as I dialed the radio’s phone number, and demanded that I be put on the air to explain the facts.  This was granted, and I spent approximately a minute explaining that I hadn’t, in fact, nominated Blatchford for the award. 

Tory, however, still seemed convinced I was guilty of name-calling, and insisted on having the last word. “There’s a lesson to be learnt here,” he lectured me, adding I should be wary of my words in the future. Thankfully, the following day Christie graciously issued me an on-air apology, and made clear it was her misinterpretation, and I hadn’t called her any names.

As a young journalist, I’ve now learned the hard way just how damaging the media can be when they get the story wrong.  What began as an innocent attempt to have my photo attributed to me, turned into a harmful blow to my reputation. 

Blatchford is a renowned journalist, notably in court reporting.  She often reports on complex and gruesome trials with great precision, and isn’t known to get much wrong.  It’s inevitable journalists will slip up once in a while, though, regardless of their outstanding record for accuracy.  It’s unfortunate that this mishap had the potential to ruin my career – before it even began.    

Listen to the broadcast below:

 

Hayden Kenez is a journalism student at Ryerson University, and a first-year representative of Hillel @ Ryerson.  His work has appeared in the National Post, on Sun News, and on NewsTalk 1010.  He can be reached via email, at hkenez@ryerson.ca, or on Twitter, at @Hkenez_journ.