The Dundas Star News, editor Gordon Cameron, and reporter Craig Campbell have been reprimanded for journalistic misconduct by the National NewsMedia Council.
In a ruling released today (Friday, February 3, 2017), the Council upheld a formal complaint related to Dundas Star News reporting on the Public Laneway issue.
According to the Council's ruling, the Dundas Star News failed to follow journalistic standards of "accuracy, fairness, and balanced reporting".
The misleading headline, "Dundas school not opposing alley sale", was published online (November 9, 2016). (The headline was recently been changed online following the Council's reprimand.)
Marvin Ross, who lives on Melville Street and frequently walks through the Public Laneway, immediately recognized the headline was misleading, so he filed the formal complaint.
As many local residents know, the Dundas "Public Laneway" has been used by children attending St. Augustine School for 160 years.
More than 650 local residents are opposing an application to Public Works that would see this "alley" closed permanently and sold to Public Works contractor, Len Medeiros, for $2.
In contrast, City Councillor Arlene Vanderbeek has been actively pushing for the Public Laneway to be privatized, and she has publicly thanked Dundas Star News reporter Craig Campbell for helping her to get the word out to the community.
The school principal, Marc Trotta, has made it clear on several occasions that he wishes to remain neutral on the controversial issue.
The Dundas Star News was given an opportunity to respond to the complaint, but after weighing the evidence, the Council determined the headline was indeed misleading and the complaint was upheld.
Marvin Ross had argued that by claiming the school was "not opposing" the sale, the Dundas Star News had removed the principal's stated neutrality. The Council agreed.
The Council noted the headline was contradicted by actual statements from the school principal.
In the end, the Council concluded the Dundas Star News "headline was misleading and a breach of journalistic standards".