The Windsor Star has been accused of having a “conflict of interest with the Mayor’s office,” allegedly reflected in opinions published in light of Windsor, Ontario’s current municipal elections, which has boiled down to a race between Rick Limoges and incumbent Eddie Francis.
Bruck Easton, Limoges’s campaign manager, believes The Windsor Star’s editorial page editor John Coleman “can determine or significantly influence opinions at The Windsor Star.” Coleman is married to the Mayor Eddie Francis’s chief of staff, Norma Coleman, hence the method behind Easton’s madness.
However, the newspaper’s publisher Jim Venney — who says he has no affiliation with the mayoral candidates and who has overseen every editorial opinion published since 2006 — challenged these allegations in a full-page opinion piece titled “Star rejects conflict allegations.” Venney made note-worthy points regarding impartiality, transparency, freedom of expression and the value of opinions at The Windsor Star.
Vanney says that “at The Windsor Star, although we don’t have a legal responsibility to be impartial as we form editorial opinions, we always act as though we do.”
Venney highlights the importance of distinguishing between news and opinion, saying that “news is more about facts and so objectivity by the reporter is critical.” Thus, opinions should be kept separate from news facts.
From conflicts of interest to biases — sometimes used interchangeably — all those who have opinions, have an interest in supporting those opinions, and thus everyone with opinions bears conflict of interest.
In noting that all opinions have some measure of bias in them, Venney says “sometimes, the opinions I value the most are opinions that take into account implicitly or explicitly, as many other biased opinions as possible.” Venney says that everyone one speaks to has an influence on their opinions, and that biases are all around us, distinguishable by degree.
Venney says that if opinions needed to contain declarations— asking one’s opinion on their opinion — then “all written opinions would be made up mostly of declarations.”
Declarations aside, here’s to expressing opinions — to having them, to sharing them, to respecting them and to seeing that they are what makes the world go round and certain sections of newspapers so exciting to read. So, Viva Opinions! — All of which Venney says The Windsor Star is open to and interested in.
For further information, check out Facebook’s Elections Windsor 2010 page and the Vote Out Loud campaign. And if you’re a Windsorite — get to the polls on 25 October and vote — make your political opinion heard.
by Jaclyn Nardone
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