The Toronto Star gets snowed

PMO denies Harper, Putin to play hockey

Harper plans Putin hockey match? Nyet, PMO says – The Globe and Mail

Canada News: No agreement for Harper, Putin 1972 Summit Series rematch: PMO – thestar.com

Let this be a lesson to the Toronto Star: you can’t trust anonymous sources that contradict named ones.  You better do some better research, or convince “anonymous” to go on the record.

Honestly though, journalistically, you have to sympathize with the reporters at the Star.  I doubt the sources they had were garbage.  And they also had to feel that they were sitting on a gold mine if this story were true.  In fact, could still be true and everyone got a blanket denial from the PMOs office that will result in the Star having the last laugh.  That could still happen.  

Every competing newspaper, and rightfully so, has jumped on what is a massive perceived failure by their national rivals at the Star.  That’s totally understandable.  It’s as much about winning the media battle as anything else.  You can’t always prove yourself better, but in the news world you can always prove your competitor worse.  It’s easy to point out their mistakes or inaccuracies, and it just may win you a few embarrassed readers.

At the same time, reporters across the country have to be holding their nose at this.  Something just doesn’t seem right.  The Star publishes a front page story in all its glory that’s actually flattering to Stephen Harper, and it turns out to be garbage.  Something doesn’t add up.

The Star never goes out of their way to bolster support for the Conservative government.  They’re still truthful in their own way, just like every other paper, but there’s no insidious nonchalant backslapping of the Conservatives going on in the Star newsroom.  Lets just be honest about.

So why the story?  Why now?  Why with anonymous sources?  And how did it end up being so wrong?

National papers don’t just run front page stories all willy-nilly.  Not typically anyway.  Certainly something this big would have required some significant debate to get it on the front page.  It took Woodward and Bernstein months to get Watergate onto the front page of the Washington Post.  Why?  Anonymous sources.  Nobody was on the record.

Any reporter worth a salt has learned from Woodward and Berstein.  I’ve read the book several times and watched the movie more times than I care to count.  There’s education to be had on those pages and on that celluloid.

And that’s why this doesn’t make sense.  That anonymous source must have been one hell of a catch to risk being wrong on your front page.

Every journalist in Canada has to know that.  Steve Ladurantaye has to know that, even though he wrote the counter article for the Globe.  We’re all smart people here.  Somebody got snowed,  hoodwinked, bamboozled.

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