From Sean Holman at Public Eye Online:
Vancouver’s two major newspapers are sponsoring a government-run centre that will tell international media covering the 2010 Winter Olympics about how the province is dealing with homelessness issues in the city’s troubled Downtown Eastside. Media observers say The Vancouver Sun and The Province should investigate the veracity of the information that will be presented by the centre, not sponsor it.
“That’s shocking,” said University of Victoria journalism professor Lynne Van Luven, when told about the free advertising. “I don’t think that either major paper in a city as plagued with social problems as Vancouver should be engaging in that sort of venture.”
“They should be, in fact, standing away from it and looking at it and writing stories about it and trying to find out if it indeed is whitewashing the homeless problem or if, in fact, this BC Housing gambit is actually legit,” she continued.
And that’s a view shared by Klaus Pohle, a specialist in media ethics at Carleton University’s school of journalism.
“It’s a conflict of interest. Newspapers shouldn’t be in the business of promoting anything like that. They should be reporting it. And, if they do report on it (now), it becomes suspect because they’re involved in it,” he said.
“If this centre turns out to be a bust or whatever, they’re not going to report on it honestly because they’re part and parcel of it. There can’t be arms-length reporting of something in which you’re involved.”