Star public editor: When you were the editor
Toronto Star readers weigh in on some of the many judgments made in the newsroom.
By Kathy English, public editor for the Toronto Star
When it comes to the many judgments of journalism, very often there are no “right” or “wrong” answers.
As the results of my annual You be the Editor survey always make clear, Star readers have varying views on the many matters of ethics, taste, style and usage faced by newsroom journalists every day — most often on pressing deadline. And when readers disagree with the newsroom’s judgment calls — however significant or picayune — they don’t hesitate to express their dismay.
In all of the real-life questions posed here, the Star opted to publish, provoking some measure of complaint from readers who saw things differently.
In recent days, we asked readers to be the judge of these matters and determine what you would publish — or not. Here’s how more than 3,000 readers — and I — weighed in on the judgments made by the Star’s newsroom in 2014.
1. In a parenting column focused on the importance of guiding children to develop good manners, a columnist uses the acronym “WTF.” Publish, or not?
Yes: 31%, No: 69%. Consider the context: Really? In a parenting column?
2. In a column about the frequency in which former mayor Rob Ford referred to the “folks” of Toronto, a columnist signs off with “Folk-you.” Publish, or not?
Yes: 52%, No: 48% It’s witty and in context. It’s all context, folks.
3. A news article about a murder-suicide in a suburban neighbourhood includes a neighbour stating that “a man and his wife owned the home . . .” Publish, or not?
Yes: 72%, No: 28% I’m with the reader who first complained of sexist language here. In 2014, it’s “a man and a woman” or “a husband and wife.”
4. An article about a Toronto woman who alleges she was raped by French policemen inside Paris police headquarters includes the fact that the woman said she fled “without her fishnet stockings and coat.” Publish or not?
Yes: 57%, No: 43% Why hide what the woman said? While, indeed, some still regard “fishnets” as “salacious” what’s that got to do with rape?
5. A Sports column refers to the Toronto Maple Leafs “new look power-play” that includes centre Nazem Kadri as “The Nazzi Experiment.” Publish, or not?
Yes: 49%, No: 51% “Nazzi” is his nickname on the team. No offence here.
6. When two members of the “band” Pussy Riot are arrested during the Sochi Olympics, a sports columnist refers to one of the women “locked in the back of a paddy wagon.” Publish, or not?
Yes: 73%, No: 27% In fact, our style czar informs me “paddy wagon” is “a term best avoided.”
7. Do you publish this headline: “Cop’s son charged after five stabbed to death in Calgary” on a story reporting that the son of a police officer is charged in the worst mass murder in Calgary’s history?
Yes: 54%, No: 46% It’s fair to report the accused youth’s connection to a police officer and the headline accurately reflects the story.
8. A report about the deaths of three young people in a downtown fire included a grieving friend of one victim stating: “She wasn’t just hot, she was gorgeous.” Publish, or not?
Yes: 32%, No: 68% No, no, no. Consider context and cut the quote.
To continue reading this column, please go to thestar.com where it was originally published.