Star public editor: Reporting on Jian Ghomeshi demanded great care
What the Star reported was neither gossip, nor rumour and innuendo, writes public editor Kathy English. Rather, what the Star shared with its readers was responsible reporting on a devastating and deeply disturbing story.
By Kathy English, public editor of Toronto Star
Dear doubters: those of you who questioned this week whether the Star was on a “witch hunt” against Jian Ghomeshi, reporting “gossip, rumour, innuendo” and “dragging him through the mud:”
I hope you no longer question the Star’s credibility in reporting this explosive story now that nine women have come forward with allegations that Ghomeshi punched, slapped, choked them and each making clear she did not consent to such violence.
Mostly, I hope you believe these brave, strong women and understand why the Star could not and should not suppress their side of this sad and sordid story. While all but two of the women who have come forward do not want to be named publicly — understandably, given the way women have too often been victimized further for speaking out about sexual violence and harassment — certainly these women deserve to be heard. I am glad the Toronto Star has given them a voice.
s well, you must know that the Star well understands the devastating nature of these allegations and that the newsroom has taken great care to report responsibly, in line with Canada’s laws governing responsible journalism, which stipulate that the more explosive and potentially devastating the allegations, the greater the degree of diligence required in reporting them.
That is why Editor Michael Cooke assigned the Star’s award-winning investigations editor, Kevin Donovan, to this story last spring when journalist Jesse Brown, an independent media critic, came to the Star with allegations he had been investigating regarding Ghomeshi and sexual violence.
Given how explosive the allegations, that was the only possible call. By now, given Donovan’s track record in reporting on Mayor Rob Ford and the crack cocaine scandal, as well as the ORNGE air debacle, Star readers can be confident that when Donovan’s byline is atop the story, the greatest of due diligence has been done by this news organization.
While the identities of most of the women who have come forward to the Star are confidential, these women are not anonymous sources and the Star did not simply publish their allegations without question. Donovan and Brown know who they are, and have questioned them extensively in past months and throughout this week to understand their stories. Then, senior editors and the Star’s newsroom lawyer spent many hours grilling the reporters to assess the credibility of their information.
As well, in line with the most basic principle of journalistic fairness, the Star has given Ghomeshi ample opportunity to respond to these allegations and tell his side of this story.
To continue reading this column, please go to thestar.com where it was originally published.