Mis en cause
[Montréal] et Mme Maureen Peterson (critique)
Représentant du mis en cause
M. Mark Harrison
(éditeur, The Gazette [Montréal])
Résumé de la plainte
Maureen Peterson de The Gazette rédige une critique sur une pièce de théâtre
produite par le plaignant après n’avoir vu qu’un seul des trois actes. Le
journal, qui aurait dû préciser ce détail, refuse de publier la lettre ouverte
du plaignant ou d’y répondre. Ces manquements constituent autant d’atteintes à
la responsabilité et à l’intégrité des médias.
Griefs du plaignant
Council has completed the study of your complaint concerning a theatre review
in The Gazette of August 2, 1979 and your subsequent attempts to seek redress
from the newspaper.
producer of the Saoirse Players’ production of «Juno and the Paycock», you
contended that The Gazette misled readers and neglected journalistic ethics by failing
to indicate that theatre critic Maureen Peterson had seen only one act of the
three acts play before writing her review.
you denounced The Gazette for failing to publish or respond to your
hand-delivered letter of August 3 and for having made no retraction or
statement to the effect that its critic had reviewed merely a segment of the
play and not an entire production. In your opinion this was misrepresentation
of fact and lack of journalistic responsibility on the part of the newspaper. In
your letter to The Gazette you questioned the integrity of such practices and
deplored an editorial attitude that puts newspaper deadlines ahead of fair and
Commentaires du mis en cause
examining this case, and having obtained comments from The Gazette, the Quebec
Press Council has reached the following conclusion.
The Council agrees with the statement you make in your letter of August 3: «No one will dispute the right of a critic to his or her opinion».
The Council agrees with both you and with The Gazette that copy deadlines often make it necessary for a reviewer to leave a performance before its conclusion. It would be neither appropriate nor desirable for the Council to suggest that newspapers and their reviewers have some sorted of ethical obligation to change that practice.
Whether or not The Gazette misled its readers or deprived them of information they had a right to expect, by failing to state that the reviewer had seen only one act of the play and only eight of the 15 performers, the Council believes that the cause of public information would be much better serve if readers are made aware that a critic is basing his review on merely a part of a performance.
The Council can only quote approvingly from the letter addressed to it, in relation to this complaint, by the Editor of The Gazette, Mr. Mark Harrison:
«If a newspaper critic cannot see an entire performance, it is reasonable that his readers should be made aware of this. Accordingly, the entertainment section of The Gazette has been instructed to make sure that when a reviewer sees only a part of a performance, that fact must be made know in the review itself.»
The Council commends The Gazette for that change in policy regretting only that it was not made earlier, and that more newspapers have not chosen to adopt it.
Although The Gazette acted within its strict editorial prerogative by not publishing your letter of complaint of August 3 it has always been the Council’s view that this prerogative should be balanced by the newspaper’s responsibility to provide readers with accurate information and as wide as possible a range of opinions.
Finally, the Council is obviously unable to take a position on what appears to be a dispute over whether or not The Gazette, as it states, had arranged to attend a preview of the complete play and then return on opening night to review it. You deny that any such arrangement was ever proposed by the newspaper and that The Gazette editor was misinformed in his contention that you had not been satisfied with it. The Council believes that a resolution of that dispute, aside from being almost impossible, was not strictly essential to its consideration of the fundamental aspects of your complaint.
Analyse de la décision
- C09A Refus d’un droit de réponse
- C12B Information incomplète
- C19B Rectification insatisfaisante