What happened to facts and context in journalism? It always lost out to narrative.

Gary Mason’s peculiar column in the Globe and Mail mystifies me.


But it is typical of journalistic narrative that reporters are always above reproach. Mason takes issues with the dismissal of CBC reporter Richard Zussman, for doing, what he assumes was something similar that he did years ago.

Mason says:

If I was a journalist working at the CBC, I’d be furious and asking a lot of questions about what has happened here.

But he is writing for the Globe and could have just as easily asked the same questions, yet there are a lot of holes in the article.

Holes readers needed to have filled before they can judge whether or not the dismissal was warranted or not.

But according to others I’ve talked to at the CBC, Mr. Zussman was sacked for not following proper procedures when it comes to pursuing outside commercial undertakings. While he apparently made an immediate manager aware of what he was doing, he did not get necessary approvals further up the food chain. Consequently, he may have contravened provisions of the company’s code of conduct that involve conflict of interest and other matters.

And as we do not know the provisions, we cannot assume anything about whether the dismissal was justified or not, though Mason has no problems making the leap:

Okay, suspend the guy for a couple of weeks if you feel you need to make an example of him. But robbing him of his livelihood for writing a book? That is utterly absurd.

Maybe it is not as absurd as it sounds. He brings up Jian Ghomeshi, which is in no way similar to this case, but Mason forgets the troubles CBC has had with Amanda Lang and Evan Solomon, and the public backlash it created, which would be more similar.

Yet Mason does not bring either of those cases up at all.

The piece is short on both facts and context, but heavy-handed in its liberal use of narrative.

If it is absurd, prove it. That’s all.

Otherwise, don’t try to get people worked up based on narrative alone.

One thought on “What happened to facts and context in journalism? It always lost out to narrative.

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