Does sending a Facebook message go far enough in trying to reach the subjects of news reports?

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As former Markham councillor Howard Shore tells it, he was quite surprised to read in the Star last week that he “did not respond to a request for comment” about the Star’s report that he had been reprimanded by the city’s integrity commissioner.

Shore later told me he had not received any request for comment from the Star. On reading the report that he did not respond, he said he checked his messages on both his cell and home telephones, checked his email and asked his wife if she had neglected to give him a message from the Star.

All of that turned up no indication that anyone from the Star had reached out to him for comment on the integrity commissioner’s finding that he “did not conduct himself with appropriate decorum” when he left a Frankenstein mask on the parking spot nameplate of Valerie Burke, his rival for council in the 2014 election.

So what gives? Why did reporter Noor Javed state that Shore did not respond to a request for comment?

As it turns out, Javed attempted to reach Shore by sending him a message on Facebook. She did not leave email or phone messages because her contact information for Shore was outdated following his election loss.

The two are not Facebook “friends” and Shore says he never received Javed’s message. In a subsequent complaint to the public editor’s office, he questioned the accuracy and fairness of the Star reporting that he did not respond — a statement he believes would lead readers to believe he was dodging the matter.

To read the rest of this column, please go to the Toronto Star’s website, where it was originally published.

H.G. Watson was J-Source's managing editor from 2015 to 2018. She is a journalist based in Toronto. You can learn more about her at hgwatson.com.