Carleton Place/Almonte Canadian Gazette | Thursday, July 4, 2019 | 8 insideottawavalley.com
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WHY DO WE COVER COURTS? APPEARING BEFORE A JUDGE CAN BE A NERVOUS TIME â€“ EVEN FOR REPORTERS DEVOY Column
Apart from the judge and the lawyers and bailiffs, no one really wants to be in a courtroom. Sometimes even the jury. Whether it's a civil or a criminal matter though, the arrival of a reporter in a courtroom can make already tense lawyers tense up even more. I know. I've seen it myself. By being in a courtroom, you're not catching people at their best. In fact, they're likely being judged for their worst decision ever. I've covered a case where a financial planner stole money from an elderly lady with dementia. Where a mental health nurse had sexual relations with one of his patients. Where a former nurse was charged (later found not guilty) with abusing young boys in their youth. Perth's first murder case in 20 years. And, worst of all, a case where a teaching assistant at a local elementary school plead guilty to possessing and viewing child pornography. That last one gave me nightmares for months - and I needed to talk to a therapist afterwards. So why do we do it? Why do we cover these trials? Everyone has a right to a fair trial. The public also has a
right to know. We are governed by Toronto Star guidelines that state that we "believe in freedom of expression and the public's right to know what is happening in the courts." Heading into court, we have to hold section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) about the "freedom of the press," as being equal to section 11 (d), which covers the right "to a fair and public hearing." Notice that word, public. We are not out to get anyone. We take what we do seriously. If there is a publication ban, we adhere to it (even if our lawyers are challenging it.) If charges are dropped, or added, we report on it. If we name someone upon their arrest, we have to commit to follow through until charges are dropped, or the person is convicted, or found not guilty. (As one journalism teacher told me: "No one is ever found innocent.") We do not publish the names of alleged sexual assaults, or of children in legal proceedings. In civil cases, we try to get both sides, and we are not on anyone's side, rooting for the police, or the defendant. We don't cover as many cases as we'd like, or as we used to. And no, we will not be your tool to settle a score in court. It's all there in the public record. And so while few people like to be in court, not everyone can be in court - but we can, and we are there in your stead. It's about trust. Our relationship with our readers is built on transparency, honesty and integrity. As such, we have launched a trust initiative to tell you who we are and how and why we do what we do. This article is part of that project. We welcome your questions and value your comments. Email our trust committee at firstname.lastname@example.org Desmond Devoy has been a reporter with The Perth Courier since 2012
This newspaper, published every Thursday, is a division of the Metroland Media Group Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Torstar Corporation. The Metroland family of newspapers is comprised of more than 80 community publications across Ontario.
CAR LOVERS UNITE
This newspaper is a member of the National NewsMedia Council. Complainants are urged to bring their concerns to the attention of the newspaper and, if not satisfied, write The National NewsMedia Council, Suite 200, 890 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4W 2H2. Phone: 416-340-1981 Web: www.mediacouncil.ca
Jonathan Mulvihill/Torstar Garfield Sargent from Carleton Place with his 1951 Ford F1 during the June 23 Wheels on the Mississippi Car Show in Riverside Park. The popular annual event is hosted by the Lions Club of Carleton Place.
LETTERS & COMMENTARY I CAN'T HEAR YOU TO THE EDITOR: What is the difference between being punched on the nose or having your eardrum hit with equal force? Why is one automatically considered illegal and the other ignored? Both do damage and not just physically. Measurable spikes in blood pressure and anxiety are some of the hidden ill-effects of loud noise. These are the questions that go through my mind when I hear incessant barking from dogs or when a motorized vehicle that has had its muffler altered to maximize noise. I guess the owners think that the noise from their dogs or vehicles is different, it is charming and reflects their personalities. Leaving Fido in the backyard to bark at everything that moves or thinks
it hears requires energy and that use of energy saves the owners from having to walk them. It doesn't matter that the neighbours stay indoors more often against their will, or have to close their windows to minimize the irritation, or, to be able to hear the radio or TV. How can anyone with a heart object to barking from such a cute dog, at any time? And my machine has such a pleasant growl that everyone loves to hear it, even from four blocks away. How can they not appreciate the amplified mechanics? While I am on a rant, allow me to also complain against those that choose to use unnecessary leaf blowers and vacuums and other expensive noisy tools on a yard that not long ago was small enough to use a rake for all the re-
quired chores. It is one thing for lawn mowers, but to use a leaf blower in a small yard? I guess this is supposed to save time that will be spent at the local gym? Sometimes I think that living along the Queensway would be easier to deal with because that is what is expected at that location. However, living in a smallish town, this is more difficult to adjust to, and is not necessary. For those dog owners, not everybody needs to hear your dogs barking hours on end. And for those who choose to fiddle with their mufflers, put your ears closer to your noise making machines and say a silent prayer that you will not be deaf by the time you hit 60. And if you cause damage others, well, you will never know.
BILL BOUSADA CARLETON PLACE
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Almonte Carleton Place Canadian Gazette July 4, 2019