Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Crossing the line for a story

It's not often I read a sports editor of a major Canadian newspaper opining in his section's pages, but that's what happened in the Montreal Gazette yesterday. Sports editor Stu Cowan took issue with how rival publication, the Journal de Montreal, snuck into a local hospital to take photos of an injured Saku Koivu:
In this city, the Canadiens are often viewed like a soap opera by the media and fans. But there are times when you have to remember the Canadiens players are real people.

As captain, Koivu is one of the few players who never avoids the media after a game — win or lose he's waiting in the dressing room to answer questions. He took a lot of heat during his 23-game goal-less drought this season — including in this space — but never once hid from the notebooks or cameras.

With the extent of his injury uncertain and his family obviously worried, I think Koivu deserved some privacy at the hospital when he asked for it.
I agree. Journalism is becoming an occupation with an increasingly poor reputation among the general public, and that's a real shame. It — and even in terms of sports coverage — is vital, and we need to have quality people producing quality work in newsrooms in North America.

The thing I've learned is that it doesn't matter if you're a city reporter in Medicine Hat or on the sports desk at The Globe and Mail — the scorn is indiscriminate. And tabloid journalism tactics like this only perpetuate what is an unfortunate — and, for the most part, inaccurate — stereotype of journalists as rabid vultures.

My advice to readers? Be discriminate with what you read, know who's behind it and, most of all, support quality work over sensationalism.

Excellent piece (and credit to Sisu Hockey for the link).

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