The first thing they don’t teach you in journalism….

I thought the 1st lesson they would teach you in journalism would be to check the reliability and credibility of your sources. It appears they don’t. I find this surprising as this always seems to be an issue whenever you see a TV drama involving a reporter.

Or perhaps when you work for the Free Press, they just tell you not to check out the credibility of your sources when you work there.

Case in point is an article by Mia Rabson from today’s free press:

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/bogus-election-robocall-made-in-winnipeg-centre-140682933.html

Now before I go on, let me say that I find the allegations disturbing to say the least, but at the moment, they are just that – allegations. One thing you have to be careful about with political scandals is opponents coming out of the woodwork riding the bandwagon with fabricated stories to gain traction or try to defeat a gov’t in power.

I’ve already taken Dan Lett to task for not spending 5 minutes looking into the credibility of a story or a witness. Looks like it is Mia Rabson’s turn.

To summarize the article above, a complainant, one Mr. Gerald McIvor, a resident of Pat Martin’s Winnipeg Center riding,  is alleging that he received a call on election day indicating that his polling station had moved.

Now, I don’t know about any of you, I might be getting a little old, but the chances of me remembering a specific automated call from 9 months ago are slim to none. But hey ,that may just be me.

These seem like some pretty serious allegations, and it’s not like they have written copy or an answering machine tape; So I would think that a writer would look into the credibility of the person making the allegations. So I thought I would take a look. Here’s what 5 minutes got me:

From Mr. McIvor’s twitter feed:

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his regime are nothing but COUNTERFEIT CONSERVATIVES. They are really an OIL CARTEL POSING AS GOVERNMENT!!”

“Harper + his caucus are all incompentent. They r too stupid to realize they r stupid…they show why we need recall laws..”

“THE HARPER REGIME REMIND ME OF PRIESTS IN RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS. THEY BLAME THE VICTIM BY USING “COGNITIVE DISTORTION” LIKE SEX ABUSERS DO!!”

“THE HARPER CONSERVATIVES ARE A BIG INTERNATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT.THE BLAME THE VICTIM TACTIC IS COGNITIVE DISTORTION. THE CONS ARE NOT HUMAN!! « 

Hmmm…..seems like some pretty strong opinions there.

Now let’s take a look at his facebook:

‘TOUGH ON CRIME SHOULD BE IMPOSED ON THESE CONSERVATIVE CROOKS….STEPHEN HARPER AND HIS DISCIPLES HAVE HIT AN ALL TIME LOW BY TAMPERING WITH OUR FEDERAL ELECTIONS…..’

‘The plot thickens..Conservatives are trying to do damage control by having Fat Con MP dean Del Maestro say he was also victimized……a tory is a tory is a tory..the only good tory is a suppository and we all know where those go….’

‘GO BOB GO….GET RID OF THOSE SCUMMY CONSERVATIVES…..’

Now what I find interesting is that these opinions were posted prior to the news piece, yet no mention on either his twitter or facebook that he had been robocalled.

Is it possible that Mr McIvor received the call he claimed? Sure, it’s possible. Given the above, and no written or recorded evidence, I think credibility could be an issue though.

And as for Mia Rabson? There is no way this should be the only subject in the story. Use him as backup to support a more credible complainant, but to have him as the only subject of the story?

Just shows that either Mia didn’t so her job, or ignored the obvious red flags about credibility. We should expect more from our media, but should we really be surprised coming from the Freep?

Nope.

Because perception = reality

We hear over and over again how dangerous Winnipeg’s downtown is. How crime ridden it is and that you shouldn’t  venture there at night. But is it?

In the end it really is only  personal experience that matters – so let me tell you my personal experience.

Winnipeg’s downtown is ugly. There are far too many smokers and cigarette butts everywhere. Panhandlers are everywhere, and most of them have been drinking. And yes, most come from a specific ethnic background. And let’s not forget that most of the bus shelters smell like piss.

But dangerous? I’m middle age, and I have only ever been the victim of crime twice. Both were crimes against property (vehicle break ins), and neither happened downtown (one was in Edmonton). Oh, and I have lived here all my life.

So dangerous? Not for me. But it’s ugly, and unfortunately that leads to a perception of danger and crime. Clean it up and that perception should disappear as well.