Backside covering, journalism-style.

Oh, how the Hijab Hoax is making journalists nervous. The Toronto Star is being particularly obnoxious in their distancing of their role in this scandal.

My favourite quote:

The 11-year-old’s unusual appearance — victims of crime under the age of 18 are traditionally not identified by police or the media — was allowed by the consent of her mother, according to Ross Parry, TDSB’s executive officer of government, public and community relations.

Just because you have Outraged Mom giving consent, does not mean that journalists can roll with it because (a) they did not know if the story was true, (b) you cannot be certain that a parent actually understands the implications of allowing their child to be vulnerable in that shocking way, and (c) if some sicko was out there, and they used the media as a roadmap to get back at the girl, there would be a bigger scandal.

You do not rob a bank just because someone told you it was "okay."

But there are other bad habits reporters have: if one side of a story, for instance, cannot or will not speak to the press, the reporter will not make an effort to balance out the article some other way. They will report with bias, and then shrug their shoulders as if that were an excuse.

Or, they report on "both" sides, knowing that one side has experience, and media training, and the other side does not, meaning the underdog's message gets lost in the shuffle.

When you look for facts, you can easily bypass the contrived barriers and find the truth.

And in the Hijab Hoax, had journalists been responsible, a mother's consent would not have influenced their reportage: they would have still looked for facts instead of a face.

But journalists are better at making excuses than making proper reports. The Star should own up to their gross error in judgement, and drop it. Blaming other people for their own horrific behaviour will not change the fact that they did two very bad things:

  1. Exposed a child to global ridicule and derision.
  2. Reported a lie as fact.

Just deal with it.