Governments Try To Dictate What Journalists Write

Here is the extent to which government organizations hold the media in disregard.

Originally media reports said that Const. Daniel Montsion who has been charged with manslaughter in connection with the Abdirahman Abdi had been released at the Elgin Street police station. Subsequently it was reported that Montsion was released at the OPP detachment in Kanata.

This is an unusual circumstance because normally people charged with a crime make a first appearance in court.

Legal officials were confused by Montsion not appearing and people scurried off trying to find him.

Your agent went with the media report on Montsion being released at the Elgin Street Ottawa Police Service station.

From what I’ve been able to determine, Montsion was released at the OPP detachment in Kanata. I have changed this post to reflect that fact. The CBC has corrected that fact as well.

But by whom and who directed it? The attorney general’s office and Ottawa police will only say Special Investigations Unit officers released Montsion. When I asked if those SIU officers had been seconded from another police force other than Ottawa’s to investigate the Abdi case, I received no answer. I have asked if the SIU officers were former police officers. No answer.

I have contacted the attorney general’s office, SIU and city police spokesman John Steinbachs. No answer to the SIU questions.

Instead Steinbachs responded by saying he would send me the correction the ministry sent the CBC.

Wait a second. When did non-journalistic organizations start writing corrections for journalists? That has always been the domain of the publication and not that of any other parties.

Here is the note from Steinbachs:


I will ask the MAG (ministry of the attorny general) media contact to send you the correction sent to CBC tomorrow morning.

In terms of questions related to SIU, Monica Hudon is the SIU media contact. or 4166222342

Have a good night.


So am I to use this so-called “correction” coming from a party to the story? Is this what is expected of reputable journalists?

This is how I responded to Steinbachs:


I don’t write corrections dictated by any organization. If a correction is to be written, it will be written by a journalist. And I will write a correction, if that is necessary, when you supply the information that I requested. If you do not supply the information, I am unable to write a correction because I cannot be sure that the information is correct.
You should know this as a former journalist.
I have already contacted the ministry and they have not provided the information I requested. I did find out I shouldn’t call them when they are shopping. And I have tried to reach Monica but she is unavailable. Naqvi’s office has not provided information to me that I requested.
You and the other organizations have not been co-operative in providing the information so that I can write something that is true.
Your attitude shows a great deal of disrespect for my professionalism.
cc Steve Kanellakos
This is how far journalism has declined in terms of respect from government.



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5 thoughts on “Governments Try To Dictate What Journalists Write

  1. Obviously he wasn’t at the courthouse, even though his name was on the docket, to save him from the walk where he would be exposed to the press and community members. Did they book him at the OPP station just in case there was a camera at Elgin Street? Can the rest of us expect the same treatment if we’re charged with a major criminal offence? Somehow. I think not.
    That the police, SIU and Attorney General’s Ministry would mislead the press and not provide answers to fairly routine and simple questions is not acceptable, particularly in a case where they should be trying to avoid any appearance of protection of an accused because he’s one of theirs. This is a situation where they should be turning cartwheels to cooperate with the press. I suppose that’s a tall order when the questions you have arise from his release in a manner that any ordinary person would regard as unusual.


  2. Open, transparent and accountable are nice words that roll off the tongues of the people in charge. It is unfortunate that a dictionary is not provided to the people that say these words.

    Do they all speak using bigly eupheNisms and alternative facts now or has that always been the case?

    Period – end of discussion.


  3. Managing the media is a full time effort for many organizations. Just read the press releases that roll out of various government departments, politicians’ offices and businesses. Spin is everything.

    The real problem is that so many members of the media just reprint the press release, or quote the spokesperson. The challenge is in balancing the demands of the editors/publishers for their reporters to meet deadlines (does anyone wait until the physical paper goes to the presses?) against the true (at least in the eyes of this beholder) requirement, which is to slough off the chaff (>90% of the content of most press releases), and present what really happened.


  4. First, I feel sure all police stations have cameras.
    When this was posted last week, it left me curious enough to start Googling. What I found was that SIU lays the charges, but nothing on where it is done.


  5. This particular case has seemed different from the beginning. There is the question of what were the factors in this case. There is the racial angle. There is the psychological angle. There is the unexplained loss of life. There is the PC angle. Looking forward to seeing the case in open court.


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