“It’s fully transparent,” Toronto Star reporter Kevin Donovan told Poynter on the phone about the paper’s new video showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford swearing and shouting, vacillating between whether he needs 10 or 15 minutes to kill someone.
The Star’s position on disclosing what it would pay for the video evolved over the afternoon Thursday. Donovan told Poynter in an email that the paper won’t say exactly how much it paid: “We are not disclosing the amount but it is not a lot,” he wrote. An earlier version of the story said the Star paid an amount “consistent with fees paid by news organizations for exclusive videos or photographs.”
An update to the story says:
The Star purchased the video for $5,000 from a source who filmed the video from someone else’s computer. The person with the computer was there in the room, the Star was told.
Asked why the paper paid $5,000 for the video, Editor Michael Cooke said:
“Because of the huge public interest both in Toronto and worldwide.
“We weren’t paying a source for information, we were purchasing a video, something newspapers and TV stations do every day. I’ve paid more for a book excerpt.
“Publisher John Cruickshank and I talked about the price and quickly decided that the crisis at City Hall made it essential to get all information relevant to Ford’s true character and views in front of Torontonians.
“This was especially crucial as the Mayor insisted he had nothing left to hide and has called us liars and maggots from the beginning when we reported on two of our journalists seeing a video that showed a clearly intoxicated mayor smoking crack cocaine.
“The mayor’s pals apparently went to extraordinary lengths to find and suppress the crack video, while all the while he was denying its existence. We feared if we didn’t grab it quick, this revealing video might disappear.”