Atlantic Press Council responds to reader’s complaint

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The Atlantic Press Council has made a decision in regards to a complaint made about a columnist for The Telegram newspaper in St. John’s NL.

Brad Cabana made a complaint to the council, whose goal it is to promote ethical practices by Atlantic newspapers and serve as a forum for complaints against its members.

Cabana made the complaint about an opinion piece written by Bob Wakeham, a regular columnist with The Telegram.

The piece, which was published on Feb. 15, was titled “Liberals’ recruitment strategy is, well, liberal.”

As the title suggests, Wakeham criticizes the party’s recruitment style.

“And, yes, you may have heard we’re thinking about contacting Brad Cabana,” Wakeham writes. “Now don’t laugh — we’ll give him a shot. We’ll give anyone a shot. We might have to ask him to tone down that mainland twang of his, and I’m sure he’ll agree; after all, he’s desperate to win our hearts as he tries to improve the lot of all Newfoundlanders."

A letter written by the council’s executive secretary, Ken Sims, says, “All those who reviewed the file believed Mr. Wakeham’s style as a columnist is humor and satire. Since Wakeham is a columnist, not a news reporter, he does not have to be ‘balanced’ or ‘fair.’ A columnist writes his or her opinions. They should not libel people and what they say should be based on facts, but there is no obligation for a columnist to be fair. It falls under ‘fair comment.’”

The letter also calls Wakeham’s column “harsh,” but says The Telegram is within its rights to publish it.

When contacted about the decision, Cabana responded via Twitter.

“Prejudice should never be tolerated. Whether is satirical or personal, prejudice hurts everyone in Newfoundland and Lab,” he tweeted.

TC Media newspapers, including this one, are members of The Atlantic Press Council.

Organizations: The Telegram, Atlantic Press Council, Newfoundland and Lab

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