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Media Irresponsibility

May 3, 2019

Most rants arise from frustration or annoyance at stupidities or inanities that sometimes seem so pervasive. But some, like this one, are generated by outrage. And it's directed at Global News, the news division of the Global Television Network here in Canada.

For several months, the network has been reporting on money laundering at British Columbia casinos and its impact on real estate prices. On May 1, Global National, the national newscast, followed by the Global News Hour in Vancouver, carried a story of a new development. A former employee of one of the implicated casinos approached Global News with a hundred-page hand-written file of suspicious activities that the employee and some co-workers had documented. According to this person, the activities were overt, visible to everyone involved, and threatening. There were incidents of confrontations between criminal elements and casino staff, to whom the hand of organized crime was obvious.

In introducing the story, the network described this employee as someone "who fears for … [his or her] safety." Because of this fear, the network went so far as to obscure the person's face. Here we have a story of gang violence, organized crime, money laundering, and overt threats. Given the current background of ongoing shootings, concealing this person's identity is obviously important.

Except that Global News didn't think so. The network gave the employee's name and former position with the casino. That's right. It broadcast the person's name. The news readers referred to the employee by name, as did the reporter who conducted the interview and another reporter covering the story. And just in case we didn't get it, the network displayed the employee's name at the bottom of the screen during the interview.

Now had the network said something like, "We're using an alias to conceal this person's identity," and put the alias in quotes on the screen, that would have been proper and reasonable. But that's not what happened. They might as well have drawn a map to the employee's house and handed it to a local gang.

Were the employee's fears justified? I don't know, but I suspect that neither did Global News. Since they admitted this person was afraid and agreed to conceal his or her face, then revealing his or her identity borders on criminal irresponsibility. The lesson is clear. If you have information on malfeasance but are concerned for your safety, don't go to a Global reporter.