Home > Journalists in the news > Mounties, Whistler News website square off

Mounties, Whistler News website square off

July 26, 2012

In which news website The Whistler News publishes a post with the headline “Whistler RCMP Accused Of Unlawful News Disclosure” and the Whistler RCMP issue a public reply:

In an unbylined article, the News cites the Official Languages Act, of all things, to condemn the Mounties:

The Whistler RCMP Detachment on the week of July 22 – 28, 2012 refused to share the weekly news information via the public RCMP websites or directly via email with all members of the public who requested it. The only possible way to receive the news information from the Whistler RCMP Detachment was to appear in person on Tuesdays at 4:00 PM. The accusation of unlawful information disclosure has been voiced by some members of the community. The allegation claims that by forcing people to enter the RCMP Detachment that it is a denial of freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter Of Rights and Freedoms. The claim is based upon the fact that the area inside the Whistler RCMP Detachment is not neutral ground, therefore some members of the public are automatically denied freedom of speech and expression by the unequal sharing of weekly news information by the Whistler RCMP Detachment.

The following example is given as evidence to support the allegation brought forward against the Whistler RCMP Detachment.

– On Thursday July 19, 2012 The Whistler News contacted the Whistler RCMP Detachment to request that the weekly news updates be provided.

– RCMP Sergent Rob Knapton noted that the weekly update news information is not shared via email or the RCMP websites, but instead in an in-person meeting.

– An invitation was provided to the meeting which was scheduled for Tuesday July 24, 2012 at 4:00 PM at the Whistler RCMP Detachment.

– The news information is provided on a weekly basis in English only.

And the Mounties issued a public reply to The Whistler News‘ claim:

Last night (July 25th) I received an email from the Whistler News via the BC RCMP email address. The email expressed concerns with not having received our media release pertaining to speeding vehicles in Whistler. This morning, while looking into this matter and hoping to address this privately with you, I discovered that you chose to publish your article called Whistler RCMP Accused of Unlawful News Disclosure without giving us a chance to respond or comment.

The news release on the speeding vehicles was fanned out via our media email distribution list and widely covered by media. I am concerned that you neglected to state in your article that you had recently asked to be removed from that very list. In fact, you stated I never saw anything regarding Whistler in my inbox so I asked to be removed from it a couple of weeks ago.

Your article then states that the Whistler RCMP’s weekly media briefing is forcing people to enter the RCMP Detachment and you call that a denial of freedom of speech. For clarity, people are not forced to attend the RCMP Detachment unless they’re under arrest. Media are invited to attend to be briefed on local issues. That is a longstanding practice in many RCMP Detachments and is done as a courtesy to local media. Your assertion that we have somehow impacted your freedom of speech is absurd.

If you would like to be re-added to our media email distribution list please advise and I will see to it that you are immediately re-added.

Supt Ray Bernoties
Officer in Charge
BC RCMP Communications

So, I think we can give that round to the Mounties.

A couple other points: The Whistler News seems to like the local Whistler RCMP press releases, seeing how they regularly publish them verbatim with no editing. Also, who writes or edits this site? Most articles are written by “Staff Journalist.” I see some very good Canada Day photos attributed to [REDACTED at the request of the photographer to preserve his Google results]. But no one’s taking credit for the words.

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  1. Jeff Lee
    July 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    If anyone thinks the RCMP have introduced a new policy of disseminating news from within their detachment, I can tell you that practice has been in place for decades. In fact, that has been a normal part of the news process in many smaller detachments. When I first started as a reporter for The Hope Standard nearly 35 years ago, I was taught to head over to the detachment office at 10 am on Tuesdays to meet with the NCO/IC who would give me a run-down on the various accidents, arrests and incidents. And at that time, they would happily offer you the names of those charged, injured or otherwise.
    I don’t know what the deal is in Whistler, but goodness, if they’re offering face-to-face time with officers, TAKE IT. In this day and age of “what’s your email” It’s so damn hard now to get face time with people.

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