[Note: This post has been updated] The Telegraph-Journal in New Brunswick has published a front-page apology to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a report that led to a national controversy, Craig Silverman at Regret the Error reports.
“In early July, the paper reported that Prime Minister Stephen Harper had pocketed the communion wafer given to him by a Roman Catholic priest at the funeral of former Governor-General Romeo LeBlanc. That report sparked an onslaught of other stories, eventually forcing the PM’s spokesman to issue a formal denial.
“Today’s apology states that the allegation was inserted by an editor ‘without the knowledge of the reporters and without any credible support…’ It does not state whether or not the editor in question deliberately fabricated the wafer incident or if he/she was passing on gossip. Either way, this is a huge embarrassment and a totally unacceptable course of events.”
The situation is especially noteworthy because the paper fired intern Matt McCann in June and told him it was because of factual errors he’d made in a story in that ran on the front page of the paper. At the time, the paper’s editor Shawna Richer said:
kinds of errors of fact and judgment don’t constitute acceptable
journalism at the Telegraph-Journal. We must cover stories with
integrity, clarity and absolute accuracy.”
In his Regret the Error post, Silverman questions if the editor responsible for the error in the Stephen Harper story has also been fired.
Silverman came out strongly on the side of the fired McCann in a column in the Columbia Journalism Review.
Richer has been fired and Telegraph-Journal publisher Jamie Irving is also no longer with the paper, after the wafer incident, the CBC reports.
In addition, a group of professors from the University of New Brunswick, Mount Allison University and St. Thomas University has announced it will boycott the newspaper, refusing to speak with any reporters from the Telegraph-Journal, because of the decision to fire McCann.
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