Friday, March 19, 2004

ETHNIC IDENTIFICATION LEAVES ME WONDERING

The Globe and Mail reports a story today of two men who were kidnapped from a night club in Toronto and driven to a house in Montreal where they were beaten for several days by their captors before one of the abducted men managed to escape and alert the police. The incident is awful and somewhat bizarre, however, I have a complaint about the Globe's reporting of it.

The Globe story describes the two abducted men as "of Vietnamese origin" and three of their alleged abuctors as simply "Vietnamese."

First, I saw no evidence in this story, beyond the initial identification, that the ethnicity or nationality of these men mattered at all. The story did not indicate that this crime was in any way racially motivated or that it had any racial undertones beyond the ones that were infused by the Globe's reporting. I would actaully have been more interested to know which of the men were from Toronto and which from Montreal.

Second, by identifying some of the men as "of Vietnamese origin" and then others as "Vietnamese" the reader is left wondering about the citizenship status of these men. Were they actually Canadian citizens or were they Vietnamese citizens? Were they in the country legally or not? Are they landed immigrants or refugees? By identifying the men as they did and providing no further information the details of the story actually become less clear.

I tried to write a letter to the Globe's ombudsperson but I could not find the e-mail address of such an office. Perhaps the Globe does not have one. Instead I wrote my complaint to EIC Greenspon.

UPDATE: 20/03/04, 3:02 a.m.-
I received the following e-mail from The Globe regarding my complaint about this story:

Mr. Fletcher:

I have asked the reporters and editors involved in the story for their comments. I'll probably have a response for you early next week.

Earle Gill
Director, Editorial Administration
The Globe and Mail

Posted by Matthew @ 1:16 PM