Articles about "Rob Ford"

3 great moments from the Rob Ford story

Canadian journalists reported that Rob Ford isn’t running for mayor again. There are a lot of moments we could focus on here, from Ford calling Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale a pedophile to how Ford always manages to appear comical in photos to seeing him get autotuned along with reporter Robyn Doolittle, who wrote the book on the whole thing. But, for now, here are three that are worth remembering.

1. Journalists learned the difference between asking the right question and asking the right question. Or not.

2. Gawker broke the story, fought back against the Star calling it an exclusive, then kind of made up (at least with Doolittle.)

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

3. Journalism went on trial. Journalism won.

In November, I wrote about how the Toronto Star was telling the Ford story. Part of the newspaper’s experience included having to go on trial before the Ontario Press Council (the Globe and Mail did, too.)

Two complaints filed with the Ontario Press Council, (you can read them both here and here,) lead to the Star, and later the Globe and Mail, to appear before the council in October. The council found no fault with the standards the Star followed: “the press council wrote that the story was in the public interest, that the reporters were thorough in analyzing the video that appeared to show the mayor smoking crack and making homophobic and racial slurs, and that Ford was given adequate opportunity to respond to the allegations before the story was published,” the Star reported. The Globe and Mail’s story was also cleared.

Read more


Lede of the day (it involves Rob Ford, deadmau5 and espresso)

Associated Press

Associated Press reporter Rob Gillies wrote a story about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford ordering five espressos, and its lede is phenomenal:

TORONTO (AP) – Famed DJ deadmau5 asked Rob Ford to go for a coffee run in his Ferrari and was jolted by the Toronto mayor’s order: five espressos in one cup.

But the last three lines of the story are remarkable as well.

Ford asks the teller twice if there’s five shots and later says he throws the “espressos back. I do.”

Ford admitted last year that he had smoked crack in a “drunken stupor.”

Read more

Newsrooms pay for scoops: will it escalate the practice?

We start a new week with a sobering journalistic reality. Last week, two newsrooms paid sources for exclusive content that broke big stories, and those who would not or did not pay were left quoting those who did.

A year ago, Canadian journalists said they had seen video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack but they didn’t buy the video and, despite Ford’s bizarre behavior, no images equaled no proof.  So when a new video emerged showing the mayor holding a crack pipe, The Globe and Mail forked over $10,000 to an admitted drug dealer for still frames from the video.

TMZ will not say if it paid for audio of NBA team owner Donald Sterling’s ranting about his associate/girlfriend’s posting photos of herself and black men on social media, but Deadspin said it paid for another version of the audio tape.

Shocking photos and audio have a real street value, and now we know the going price. The price you pay for the photos may be linked to the cost of the steady, slow decline of journalism credibility. Audiences say they believe less of what journalists report. So to get the public to believe us, must we amp up the evidence, even if it means paying a drug dealer for a set up photo?

A 100 years ago, journalists found themselves in a similar situation. Following the press wars between Pulitzer and Hearst and the birth of what we would now call public relations, journalists attempted to rebuild credibility by establishing new standards.

The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics does not forbid paying a source for photos, video or audio. The SPJ code says, “Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.” TMZ says it pays for such things just as other newsrooms pay stringers.

The Globe’s reporter Robyn Doolittle says the “drug dealers” were asking for six-figures, or $100,000 for rights to the video. They accepted $10,000 for still frames from the video.

The Globe’s Editor-in-Chief David Walmsley explained on the paper’s website that he felt the paper had to obtain the photos that it snagged from the video because, “We had a public duty to properly scrutinize the mayor’s behavior and we felt it was important that we highlight, with the evidence, the example of the story that we then ran today.”

If The Globe had reason to believe that it had evidence of Mayor Ford committing a crime, shouldn’t the paper have turned the evidence over to police? Walmsley said no. He said journalists should not “be agents of the police.”

Gawker says a source offered the Ford video to them, too. Gawker countered with a deal. It would pay the source based on the popularity of the video. The more online traffic the photos generated, the more they would pay. Think about the incentive that such deals would give to a source to capture the most salacious images possible.

The ethics of paying sources

The problem with paying sources in this case is that The Globe may be rewarding criminals for performing a criminal act. It is not unusual for a newsroom to ethically pay a stringer, as an example, for significant photos that tell great truths or provide insight. It can be ethical to pay a large sum for such images or video. But when the supplier may also be involved in the criminal act that is at the center of the scandal, the decision becomes messier.

Poynter Senior Scholar Roy Peter Clark told me “In general, I say no” to paying for information, photos or video. “But I think of my position as a standard not an absolute.” Clark said, “It can be defensible to pay for photos if there is no other way to prove a story to be true. Ask if the story reaches a point of significant impact on the public’s well-being.”

By that standard, The Globe and Mail has a reasonable defense.

Poynter Senior Faculty for Ethics Kelly McBride said money “can have a distorting effect” on truth-telling. “When you offer a monetary incentive to a source, the source may try to give you what you want; they change reality to make what they are offering more valuable.”

But even unpaid sources can have selfish motives for providing distorted information, including revenge, self-aggrandizement and to promote a cause.

Other professions that depend on “sources” gladly pay for useful information. Police pay for information when the source can provide leads that end in convictions. Lawyers hire expert witnesses to provide useful testimony. But in both circumstances, the paid informant can expect to come under suspicion.

Weighing the options

The Globe found an alternative to paying $100,000 to drug dealers who say they supplied drugs to Mayor Ford, and the evidence was plenty to tell the story that needed to be told.

The Globe did the right thing by boldly and clearly starting how it obtained the photos.

The key difference between paying for the audio of Donald Sterling and the photos of Ford can be found in the gravity of the two events that were documented. One is a high-profile, private businessman whose business touches lots of people, but whose conversation was neither illegal nor public. The case against Sterling’s attitudes about race is demonstrated in court documents and lawsuits. The audio provided a new multimedia frame for an old story.

The stakes in the Ford case were significantly higher. Ford represents Canada’s biggest city, can influence government spending and affect the lives of every citizen. There was no other way to prove the case in the way the photos can.

What’s next?

Imagine the nightmare that awaits you if every story begins with negotiations with sources over how much you will pay for today’s interview. What if the source of your information could count on being rewarded based on how many page views their information produced on your website? Or would you argue that if we would just loosen up our ethical playbook, information that you can’t pry out of your sources, useful — even vital — information that would reveal rich stories would flow like Niagara Falls and we could be better off for it?

Poynter’s Roy Peter Clark says journalists may have sent a signal to all out there that their recordings can pay off handsomely. “Here is the bigger issue,” Clark says, “you are establishing a precedent that could create incentives for entrapment of public figures. Imagine somebody saying, ‘So now I know how much a newsroom will pay for a photo that will take down a mayor. What’s the price for a prime minister?”’ Read more


Globe and Mail paid $10,000 for latest Ford crack pictures. Gawker got them for free

The Globe and Mail | Gawker

The Globe and Mail paid $10,000 for still images from the latest video that shows Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford, smoking what a drug dealer described to the newspaper as crack cocaine.

This time, Gawker didn’t break the news, but they did run the photos and they got them for free. Editor-in-chief Max Read details how he got those photos in a story published Wednesday night.

“We haven’t paid Jermaine’s friend anything,” Read wrote Poynter in an email. “He emailed again this morning to say that the video was still in his possession and still for sale, but obviously its value has gone down a bit.”

Gawker did make the front of the Toronto Star on Thursday, however. Formerly the news home of reporter Robyn Doolittle, who broke the story for The Globe and Mail, the Star ran this as their front on Thursday.

Read more

1 Comment

Robyn Doolittle gets autotuned along with Rob Ford

Toronto Star reporter Robyn Doolittle plays a pretty big role in “Ford Nation,” a video by Anonymotif that autotunes Rob Ford, whom she has covered extensively.

“It’s not a big deal,” Doolittle said in a phone interview Friday about seeing the video, but “I did cringe a little.”

“As a reporter, you try to just stick with facts,” she said, and she usually tries not to offer her opinions. Those opinions, however, were pulled out from two much longer interviews, where Doolittle said she was careful to give nuanced answers on Ford and his future.

The results?

Yeah, autotune.

Read more


In her new book, “Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story,” Toronto Star reporter Robyn Doolittle writes about working on the story of Toronto’s mayor and the video of him smoking crack.

Keeping a secret is tough. Keeping a secret that I’d seen the mayor of Toronto smoking from what looked like a crack pipe was exhausting. My Star friends knew not to ask what I was working on. My mom called to see if everything was okay — she’d noticed I hadn’t been writing much. “Oh, you know, just taking some time off after the big Garrison story,” I said, lying to my own mother.

Robyn Doolittle, Toronto Star


If Canadian media liked football more, maybe they’d get to interview Rob Ford


Rob Ford isn’t having much to do with Canadian media these days, but every Thursday morning, you can hear his take on football in the U.S. Ford calls in as a special guest to WJFK’s Sports Junkies in Washington D.C. On Wednesday, Ben Spurr interviewed Junkies host Eric Bickel in the Toronto publication NOW.

Bickel said Ford’s staff never tells him what kind of questions can or can’t be asked, but there is an understanding that Ford is there to have fun and not be grilled. Bickel also said he did not try to keep up on news about Ford and he’d leave the serious questioning of Ford to others.

“The frustration for some media here is he won’t talk to us and answer those questions,” Spurr told Bickel.

“Maybe you guys gotta like football a little more or something over there,” Bickel replied. Read more

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford attends an Executive Committee meeting at city hall in Toronto on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.  Ford met with his executive committee for the first time since allegations of Ford's videotaped drug use surfaced earlier this month. Ford has denied the drug-use allegations, making a statement late last week after six members of his executive committee urged him to publicly address the allegations following a week of mostly silence on the issue. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

Rob Ford apologizes to reporter again: ‘I wholly retract my statements’

The Toronto Star

The Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale will not pursue a libel lawsuit against Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford, the Star reported Wednesday, after Ford issued “a second, more complete, public apology.” Ford had implied Dale was a pedophile; Dale rejected an earlier apology in which Ford blamed the media for ascribing to him a “word I did not say.”

The new apology, by contrast, includes pretty much full retractions of everything Ford has said about Dale so far, and words he implied.

Finally there was absolutely no basis for the statement I made about Mr. Dale taking pictures of children, or for any insinuations I made. I should not have said what I did and I wholly retract my statements and apologize to Mr. Dale without reservation for what I said.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Dale will accept my personal apology for my comments and all harm my words may have caused him.

Dale tweeted about the apology Wednesday night.



Dale also planned to pursue a libel case against Zoomer Media, which aired the interview where Ford reasserted complaints about Dale. On Wednesday night, Zoomer media also issued a full apology.

Later, Dale tweeted that he wouldn’t be pursuing a suit against Zoomer Media, either.

Read more

1 Comment
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, right, is flanked by Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday in Toronto in a January 25, 2013 photo, after learning that he has successfully appealed a decision to remove him from office following a conflict of interest hearing. Holyday said Friday it's urgent for Ford to deal with the allegations that gained attention around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Rob Ford apologizes to Toronto Star reporter

The Toronto Star

Read more

Toronto Star reporter pushes back at Ford’s ‘vile’ suggestion

Toronto Star

Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale pushed back Wednesday against repeated suggestions from Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford that Dale is a pedophile.

“He tried to get me arrested, to destroy my career; I decided to correct him gently, deferentially.

Not any more. Not 19 months later. Rob Ford is lying about me, he knows it, and it’s vile.”

Ford’s latest comment came from an interview with Conrad Black that aired Monday night in Canada. The Star’s Robin Doolittle wrote about the interview Tuesday, in which Ford also accused Toronto’s chief of police of going after Ford for retribution.

Ford also implied Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale was a pedophile for what Ford described as taking pictures outside the mayor’s Etobicoke house.

“Daniel Dale is in my backyard taking pictures. I have little kids,” Ford told Black on a taped interview that aired on Vision TV Monday night.

“He’s taking pictures of little kids. I don’t want to say that word but you start thinking what this guy is all about.”

Read more