Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sloppy reporting

Now, to be fair, my criticism is similar to that of an armchair quarterback - from the comforts of my little blogging world, where I have no particular journalism standards to adhere to, no pressure to have ratings (although I get a kick out of people reading my blog), added with the luxury of time, it's quite easy sometimes to criticize the media.

All of that said, I feel as though this recent CTV story about a Winnipeg couple who were slapped with a Neighbourhood Liveability By-Law order to paint their house has some serious holes to it.

The absolute biggest hole is that THEY DIDN'T ASK THE COUPLE IF THEY HAD CALLED THE CITY AND ASKED FOR AN EXTENSION. It seems like that should have been the first question the reporter asked them, although that likely would have killed the "story" as the City is generally quite willing to work with homeowners to resolve by-law issues.

Another glaring hole is that in their rush to get a sensational story about seniors possibly (read: realistically not probable at all. Even a little bit.) going to jail they forgot to contact some of the organizations that might have been able to help these people. You know, the ones that they remember to contact for other North End related sound bites? Had they done so, perhaps this could have been less of a fear mongering story and more of an educational one; North End Community Renewal Corporation in particular could have let these homeowners know about several programs that may be able to help. Add to that these types of organizations often work closely with the City and Rodney and Doris Pearson could have slept well that night.

Oh, and some more sloppy reporting (camera work?) is that when they purport to show the fence in question, they show a section of fence that does not appear to require any sort of work whatsoever, let alone painting. If this is the section of fence in question then that's where the real reporting should have begun - why is a brand new looking section of virgin wood fence in violation of a by-law?!

So, in the name of blogger journalism integrity, I went down to take a look for myself at this fence; easy to do since the news clip provided me with their full address (!). Sure enough, they definitely do have some fence that needs to be painted, not the fence they showed, but it's there.
A fence that has nothing wrong with it (still captured from video)

Also, just to nitpick, as the story is being introduced, the anchor says that they will face the penalties if they don't do the work "within six months" when really they have only been given just under 5 months to complete the work.

A responsible way to cover this story would have been to bring to light the Neighbourhood Liveability By-Law, show these folks as the example as to what can happen when you're in violation, and then educate others on how you can either prevent it from happening (by listing common violations) and who to reach out to for help (if need be) should you get one. Owning a house is a privilege and not a right; just because someone lives in the core area doesn't mean they don't have to maintain their house. The City also cannot choose to not enforce by-law standards for some (such as low income homeowners) but not for others.


  1. How about someone at the City livability branch take a drive over and see for themselves...maybe just maybe , they'd of found out these folk needed a helping hand....not a summons.....what a mediocre little town....ya you show these folks what a bunch of of little snobs and snots surround them....

  2. An alternate suggestion would be if perhaps these folks called the By-law officer on their letter (willing to bet vast sums of money that they didn't) or even had they spoken to Ross Eadie themselves, they would have been directed to resources that could help them. Now, that said, it wasn't until the CBC story that they added claiming poverty to the story - in the CTV story it was all about how unfair the City was in giving their deadline.

    Again, owning a house is a privilege not a right; if home maintenance is no longer something people can do (or have the cash flow to pay for) then perhaps it's time to downsize to a condo or apartment. The concept of a reverse mortgage exists for this exact reason.

  3. So, Timid, I'm guessing you're one of the people that got out there the next day to offer your help, or are you just a comments section troll :)

    They most likely received this order because someone in the neighbourhood called in a complaint. There aren't enough bylaw officers to just wander around issuing them - their time is spent following up on calls.

    Once received, if they are in violation they get an order. I don't think people would stand for the city to say if an officer is sympathetic to someone, don't bother to follow up on the complaint.

    In my job I sometimes come in contact with bylaw folks, I find them to be fair enough about extending deadlines. They did a "sweep" in my neighbourhood for a couple of days last summer and provided people with info on neighbourhood fix-up grants that were available. Who knows, it may have been them that said contact the media, you'll definitely get people out to help.

    The bylaw is there to get people to fix up derelict or untidy properties. It's too and that old people sometimes get caught up in it, but just like care safety regulations, fire codes etc. age should not matter.

  4. Comment Troll? I commented on the story. Seems like you are the troll. Being sympathetic is something to strive for.