Sometimes you have to call out a newspaper on bad reporting.
Earlier today I posted my amazement that the Edmonton Journal would write such a poorly researched article on the atheist bus campaign’s work in Edmonton (which is virtually nothing at this point). Already, on their site a few comments have taken the paper to task:
My first comment to them was posted anonymously:
This seems like pretty poor journalism, the only claim that Edmonton has “banned” the ads is hearsay from ETS on Pattison’s postion which is blatantly contradicted a few paragraphs later when Brian de Ruiter claims to have no objection to the ads running a legitimate campaign.
And Mary said:
Talk about making up a story out of thin air. No atheist group has actually asked Pattison to place an ad in Edmonton, your own story even says this. Yet the headline and surrounding story is making it sound like they have and were rejected. This is what passes for journalism these days? Shame.
There’s a few other comments, either talking about free speech or other issues. But I still want to focus on the journalistic integrity (or lack thereof).
So here’s the copy of the letter I sent in to the paper (which may or may not appear in some edited form):
There appears to be many conflicting facts in the article “Free speech at stake: group” which appeared in Saturday, 21 February’s Journal.
First, the article asserts that “an atheist group” claims ETS won’t carry its ads, but Pattison Outdoors admits, a few paragraphs later, that they have received no official proposals.
Next, the article provides a quote from an ETS spokesperson that claims Pattison would reject the proposed advertisement, but the Vice-President of Pattison later claims that “he doesn’t object” to the ads.
It might seem that the Journal’s goal, with this article, is to generate a controversy, that doesn’t exist, based on little more than hearsay and contradictory reporting.
The truth of the matter is that the Freethought Association of Canada is interested in running their ads in Edmonton, as well as most major cities across Canada, with the goal of creating a dialogue between people of different worldviews.
The ads are not meant as an affront to religion, but merely serve as an affirmation that it’s okay to live without belief in a higher power. And regardless of what you believe we should all “enjoy our lives.”
Edmonton Spokesperson, Freethought Association of Canada
I’ll update this post if it is published.