Mis en cause
[Montréal] et M. Doug Camilli (journaliste)
Représentant du mis en cause
M. Mark Harrison
(éditeur, The Gazette [Montréal])
Résumé de la plainte
«Miss America contest plunges to new depths», publié le 23 août 1980 par The
Gazette, le journaliste Doug Camilli formule des commentaires déplacés et fait
preuve de discrimination en identifiant l’origine raciale de certaines participantes
au concours «Miss Amérique». The Gazette refuse de faire paraître la lettre de
protestation du plaignant.
Griefs du plaignant
Press Council has completed its study of Mr. Alfred Barker’s complaint against
journalist Doug Camilli for his story entitled «Miss America contest plunges to
new depths» published in The Gazette of August 23 lats.
to Mr. Barker, The Gazette columnist, Doug Camilli, was guilty of «racism» for identifying
the racial origin of some of the contestants in the Miss America pageant. His
«disparaging remarks, all of them reeked of bigotry» were upsetting and
shocking. The Gazette is the only English daily newspaper in Montreal and in
Mr. Barker’s opinion, one should be able to read newspapers without being
insulted because of his or her colour, creed or race.
also brought the Council’s attention to his letter of protest to the Editor
which The Gazette did not publish.
Commentaires du mis en cause
to the Council’s request for your point of view, you explained that far from
being «racist» the references in Mr. Camilli’s column were precisely the
opposite; the point being that the contestants in the Miss America pageant have
traditionally been white Anglo-Saxons. According to you, the columnist’s
remarks to the effect that it is now possible for persons who are neither white
nor Anglo-Saxons to win State beauty contests, and thereby qualify for the Miss
America title, was a step forward in reducing racial prejudice. You also
stressed that The Gazette has a firm policy forbidding references to racial
origin in any story unless it is relevant to the story. In your opinion, Mr.
Camilli’s references «surely was not only relevant but racially constructive,
rather than racially offensive».
you told the Council that The Gazette did not publish the complainant’s letter
of protest because of his failure to comply with The Gazette requirement to
include a street address. This announcement appears almost every day in the
newspaper editorial page cautioning writers that they must include their
address. Like many other responsible papers, The Gazette refuses to publish
letters which are not accompanied by the name and address of the writer so as
to discourage irresponsible letters.
It is the Council’s opinion that the columnist’s references to racial characteristics of some of the contestants in the Miss America pageant were totally inappropriate in the context of the article. The article could give rise to the impression that the alleged decline in the quality of the pageant was linked to the racial origin of some of the contestants. The unfortunate association of colour or racial characteristics with trivial features that might have sustained the title of the article could indeed be offensive to many readers.
The Council cannot however formally accuse the writer of a racist or discriminatory prejudice but invites all who practise journalism to increased vigilance in these matters.
Furthermore, the Council cannot blame The Gazette for not having published the complainant’s letter of protest since in fact he neglected to mention his street address and thus failed to comply with the newspaper policy adopted so as to avoid the publishing of irresponsible letters. The Council hopes that newspapers will not reject publication of letters to-the-editor solely on grounds that the writer has failed to include his address. The Council suggests that editors make at least a summary attempt to establish the authenticity of such letters.
Analyse de la décision
- C08A Choix des textes
- C18A Mention de l’appartenance