The Quebec Press Council has ruled that The Gazette acted properly in its scoop of the year last year, getting its hands on a final draft of the Bouchard-Taylor report before any other news outlet.
When the Gazette published excerpts of the report (though not its conclusions), it elicited a lot of anger and hostility from hard-core separatists and francophone media who accused it of misleading the public even before the report was issued. Having failed to get the scoop themselves, La Presse, the Journal, Le Devoir and Radio-Canada tried to raise doubts about the paper’s take.
A week later, when the report was released, it turned out the Gazette got it right. Even then, other media (you know, the ones who put “EXCLUSIF” and “EN PRIMEUR” before every headline) questioned whether the leak was irresponsible, as if knowing the rather obvious conclusions of the commission on reasonable accommodation ahead of time would somehow undermine it.
The QPC process took longer than the media analysis. The panel rejected any notion of racism or irresponsibility that had been alleged by anglo-haters Jean Dorion and Gilles Rhéaume. It did, however, uphold a charge that the Gazette “misled the public with respect to the real value and importance that should be given to the information published.” In other words, pretending it was a bigger deal than it really was. The Gazette is appealing that part of the ruling (UPDATE July 24: The Gazette’s appeal has been rejected).
No one’s holding their breath waiting for corrections and apologies.
Excerpt from the judgment:
“La manchette du quotidien The Gazette était libellée comme suit :
Vision for a new Quebec
Final draft of the reasonable accommodation commission’s report says the responsibility for open mindedness lies mainly with French-Canadians. Its message:
Learn more English. Be nicer to Muslims. Get better informed.
Ces éléments du rapport Bouchard-Taylor se retrouvent dans le premier paragraphe de l’article intitulé : « Time for Quebecers to be more open: report » et dans la manchette centrale à la une.
Après examen par le Conseil, il s’avère que, tout en étant présents dans le contenu du rapport Bouchard-Taylor, ces trois points du « message » retenus par le journal ne correspondent pas à la pensée centrale et aux conclusions finales formulées par les commissaires Bouchard et Taylor dans leur rapport.”
The article was misleading, and the title and lead were blatant examples of why a franco can’t read The Gazette. Except if they are masochists. And you dare ask for excuses. Fagstein, t’es de mauvaise foi. But again, qui mord la main qui le nourrit?
Misleading, perhaps. Cherry-picking, sure. But not wrong. That’s what the judgment said.
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