Ford vs. the Toronto Star: There’s Enough Blame to go around

This could boil down to a classic case of he said, he said.  Reporter Daniel Dale says he was taking photos for a story from public land, Rob Ford says otherwise.  The story Dale was covering is completely legit- about why Ford would want to buy land near his house to build a security fence; Ford says it was to make more of a play area for his kids.  This might even be a story I would have done but I wouldn’t have done it like that.

Covering politics is about relationships.  If you’ve got good relationships, then you can get the stories; get the quotes you need when you need them. I can think of stories I’ve been able to get because I’ve kept good relationships with the people I cover.  If you have bad relationships your work will suffer.

The whole situation raises questions for me.  What was a Reporter with a newspaper that has a known feud (for want of a better term) going on with the Mayor doing anywhere near his house? And taking photos of the area at 7:30 in the evening? At this time of year, that time is when the lighting can be difficult, and if you don’t have the proper equipment to compensate for that, or the photo editing software and patience your shots more often than not are going to be bad.

Ford’s conduct in hindsight was on the extreme side.  What he probably should’ve done was to stay inside and call the police.  I can’t blame him entirely though; the reaction was natural when you consider he had young children at home, and a history of threats against him and his family.

His reaction now of banning that particular reporter from scrums is in one way reasonable, in another extreme.  It’s a reasonable instinct that when you or your family is threatened to want to protect them; it’s reasonable to defend them at all costs.  But the thing about reporters is that we have a weird sense of reverse psychology; tell us to go right, we’ll turn left… tell us to zig, we’ll zag. If we think you’re keeping something from us, then we become like the proverbial dog with a bone; we won’t stop until we find out what it is.  Ford would do well to remember that before changing his media policy. 

It’s courtesy to tell people you may be taking their photo; especially when private interests are concerned.  In this, Ford should be treated like anybody else, and a knock on the door wouldn’t have gone amiss… it might have led to a better picture- a way of doing it without using his home.  And perhaps a quote for his story.

The Star’s motives are a bit suspect to the say the least.  They have had a well-documented fight going on with Ford, and I don’t think we should dismiss the possibility this may have coloured their actions here.  Even when you take this into account there is enough blame to go around.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

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Filed under Current Events, Daniel Dale, Mayor Rob Ford, Toronto Star

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