Media ethics,
distortion of the facts
and amid death threats

di Francesco Veronesi del March 11, 2021

TORONTO - We journalists are a bad lot. We have the uncomfortable habit of anchoring ourselves to the facts; our daily work revolves around the continuous search for news that has a factual basis. This modus operandi is sometimes irksome, sometimes it is ignored, sometimes it is criticized, sometimes even distorted and used against us.

These days the Corriere Canadese is subject of a media storm, which will have serious legal consequences, because it has dared to touch on a sensitive issue that has provoked superficial, summary, hasty and misleading conclusions. It is a fact that the web page for the Toronto Catholic District School Board is accessible to all students, most of whom are underaged children and young people below the age of eighteen. It is also a fact that the site hosts a series of links to other websites and among them we find the LGBT Youthline. Moreover, it is a fact that within this site there are other links that lead directly to material not suitable for minors, among other things, reviews of vibrators and other sex toys.

The Corriere Canadese in several articles has highlighted the inappropriate presence of this content on the website of the Toronto Catholic District School Board. The sky split open. We have been accused of being homophobic, bigoted, hateful to the LGBTQ2 community, intolerant. All this, with a disarming superficiality, without a reasonable reading of the facts presented.

These accusations have even come from politicians elected to City Hall and elected trustees in the TCDSB.

But clearly there is a limit and when what could have been a constructive exchange of ideas foundered in what we consider libelous defamation pure and simple, we were forced to move on the legal front, with a lawsuit filed and served by our lawyer upon several such individuals and agencies.

Yesterday, our office received an email that leaves little room for interpretation, from a certain a Tom Gerylo: "Yours [obituary], hopefully. How you all die. You hate on the LGBTQ2A community and I’ll hate on your Italian wop community. F.. k you. Eat s.. t". We turned the emails promptly over to Toronto police services, who launched an investigation.

But the real problem is that there has been a total distortion of the facts, a misrepresentation of reality probably designed to gag a voice, perhaps discordant, because it refuses to sing to the choir. Those who have launched the accusations - for which they will have to defend themselves in court - clearly have no idea of the ethical and professional values of those who work at the Corriere. And evidently in all these years they have never read it. If they had, it would have been clear that our newspaper, in fact, has been, is and will always be at the forefront of promoting tolerance, integration, defending the rights of all, protecting freedoms and individual choices - and this also applies to the LGBTQ2 community.

There is only one editorial line in our newspaper: giving a voice to everyone, giving space to every point of view, regardless of political colour, religious belief, or gender issues. It is precisely thanks to this that we have won the freedom to be able to criticise governments of di.erent parties without any prejudice or restraint dictated by the convenience of the moment.

Yet, howls of homophobia and discrimination are heaped in our direction, just because we have shed light on how a 10-year-old can, browsing the TCDSB website, get through links to material that we might call "soft porn".

But time, as always, is “gentleman”. In the end, it will be public opinion and a judge, complete with a jury, who will put things right.

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