Monday, November 18, 2013

Speaking of SNL ...

I really enjoyed their spoof of 60 Minutes featuring Rob Ford:

The media’s been having a lot of fun at his expense lately. I’m not gonna lie – I’ve been enjoying it myself.

But if we’re talking about ethics (and I know that we are!), I should raise questions about the way the press broke the story of his notorious scandal.

Back in May, the website Gawker started a “Crackstarter” campaign (yes, really) in order to purchase footage (from his drug dealers!) of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack-cocaine. The deal fell through, but a Gawker editor saw it and ran something anyway. This gave the Toronto Star license to talk about it in their own paper, which they later attempted to claim as an exclusive story. (A war between the two outlets ensued, but that’s beside the point.)

I find it entertaining that a news site would go so far as to contact a politician’s drug dealer for footage, let alone offer him money. It doesn’t exactly lend Gawker a lot of journalistic credibility. (But then again, they are a gossip site.) I suppose you could call that “checkbook journalism,” but maybe it’s different if your readers are the ones paying for it. (That’s another thing – is it really okay to solicit your readers in order to pursue a gimmick like this? Seems totally sleazy to me.)

I also noticed that Rob Ford lives in another country. I imagine the Canadian press has their own set of rules and regulations that American reporters may not be subject to. It’s kind of a cheap shot on the part of Gawker. They had no accountability for the story had it turned out to be false. If the Toronto Star had reported it (without evidence), they could have faced a lot of trouble from the Canadian government and the Toronto mayor himself. Rob Ford can’t exactly sue someone in another country – not easily, anyway.

1 comment:

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Gawker is all about cheap shots! Now I will make a general comment: If the mayor of any city - large or small - is smoking crack, I want to know. That said, I wouldn't pay for the video. I don't think. Not paying for stories is a 'goalpost ethic,' as in your own. If you don't defend it, you lose. (Second that said.) There *are* stories which one could argue are of such importance that you would do anything to get, including pay for. Says I. But it wouldn't be a long list.