Skip to main content

FP admits bad reporting; still says paper right, Katz wrong

The hubris of the Winnipeg Free Press is breathtaking.

For the past two years the newspaper has been flogging a series of "controversies" involving Mayor Sam Katz, none of which has had any traction outside their offices on Mountain Avenue.

This weekend the FP, via reporter Dan Lett, finally conceded that, contrary to their own stories, Sam Katz has always followed the rules, acted within the legislation, and behaved properly on all votes at City Hall.

Not good enough, says Lett.

His proof? Why, the many controversies surrounding the Mayor, of course.

The Free Press, with a straight face, declares that the existence of the alleged controversies shows that what wasn't wrong, should be wrong, and therefore, Katz was wrong, even if he was right.

To buttress this argument, reporter Lett, cites his own story from 2005 accusing Katz of conflict of interest in voting to put a Salisbury House restaurant on the new Provencher bridge. Katz had previously loaned money to David Wolinsky, who was a director of Salisbury House.

What Lett failed to mention was that his story inaccurately stated that a complaint against Katz had been filed with the city auditor.

The Black Rod exposed this within days and brought it to the attention of the broadsheet brass.

The Free Press never corrected the error, never apologized for the inaccurate reporting, never even published a "clarification" (a new tactic pioneered by editor Bob Cox on his blog to hide errors without actually acknowledging them to readers of the physical paper).

In other words, the inaccurate information was allowed to stay on the record as if it was true, which, in newspaper terms, is the same as publishing a lie.

Dan Lett is the last person at the Winnipeg Free Press who should be writing about conflict-of-interest. He won a newspaper award for a series of stories on convicted murderer James Driskell's fight for a new trial. You could say he has an interest in Driskell's case.

But when the Winnipeg Free Press fabricated a quote that acted as the basis of a front page story (by another reporter) at the inquiry looking into Driskell's conviction ( ), Lett was silent.

He has never, to this day, commented on his newspaper's used of a phony quote to support its own coverage of the case.

Perhaps Lett has been taking lessons in the fine art of the cover-up from one of his sources. In his Katz/conflict story, Lett actually used former Liberal MP Reg Alcock as an expert on Ottawa standards for politicians.

Yes, only the Free Press would go to a member of the defeated, disgraced Liberal government as a suitable source on ethics.

The Winnipeg Free Press has a double standard when it comes to conflicts-of-interest. Just days before the newspaper started its latest campaign against Sam Katz, it carried a story by its Ottawa reporter Paul Samyn headlined "Feds probed cabinet leak to Free Press."

The story was an inside-joke.
Samyn wrote that the federal Liberal government tried, unsuccessfully, to find the source of a leak to the Free Press, of a confidential memo to cabinet. The leak became the story "Secret native housing cure?" printed Wednesday, Oct 26 2005.

What he failed to report was that the leak came to him. He knows who leaked the memo. You might say he had a conflict of interest in writing the story about the probe. You can bet he was laughing up his sleeve as he wrote it. Ha ha ha.

Strangely missing from his story was the name that was so prominent in Lett's story---Reg Alcock.

All official leaks to the FP had to be approved by Alcock, the senior cabinet official in Manitoba.

The FP and Alcock even had an agreement. Whenever Alcock was to make a formal announcement in Winnipeg of some federal funding or some new program the Free Press would get an advance copy the day before. The newspaper would then have a Page One story on the day the announcement would be made to the rest of the news media in the city.

This quid-pro-quo agreement has never been discussed because it immediately raises questions about how far the FP would go to slant its stories in favour of the Liberal party to continue to get their "exclusives".

But what the stories by Samyn and Lett show is how selective the newspaper is about its sources. Who they interview and on what subject, depends on what spin they want to put on the story that day and not on any obligation to inform the public of the facts.

Samyn's story was a mockery of the process. And by laughing in the face of the public, it was a mockery of the readers of the Free Press.

But maybe the readers are laughing back.

New information has made us rethink our previous post on the circulation of the Winnipeg Free Press. We used the figure of 125,000 which we took from the FP's own claim to the investors in its income trust.But then we took a closer look at that claim.

It actually says "...the marketing reach that comes with the ability to distribute newspapers to an average of 125,000 readers seven days a week, including over 162,000 on Saturday."

This is cleverly written to inflate the truth.

The industry rule of thumb is 2.1 readers per copy sold. The latest estimate from the Newspaper Association of America is 2.3 readers per copy. In other words, the actual circulation of the Winnipeg Free Press ranges from 54,000 to 59,500.

The newspaper is telling its advertisers on the QT that their ads will go to 75,000 subscribers. Comparing that figure to paid circulation means that about 15,000 copies are distributed free to new subscribers, as promotions, and on airplanes and in hotels in discount deals.

54,000 is a far cry from 125,000.

In fact, you might say the distance is humbling.

Popular posts from this blog

The unreported bombshell conspiracy evidence in the Trudeau/SNC-Lavelin scandal

Wow. No, double-wow. A game-changing bombshell lies buried in the supplementary evidence provided to the House of Commons Judiciary Committee by former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould. It has gone virtually unreported since she submitted the material almost a week ago. As far as we can find, only one journalist-- Andrew Coyne, columnist for the National Post--- has even mentioned it and even then he badly missed what it meant, burying it in paragraph 10 of a 14 paragraph story. The gist of the greatest political scandal in modern Canadian history is well-known by now. It's bigger than Adscam, the revelation 15 years ago that prominent members of the Liberal Party of Canada and the party itself funneled tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks into their own pockets from federal spending in Quebec sponsoring ads promoting Canadian unity. That was just venal politicians and a crooked political party helping themselves to public money. The Trudeau-Snc-Lavalin scandal is

Crips and Bloodz true cultural anchors of Winnipeg's aboriginal gangs

(Bebo tribute page to Aaron Nabess on the right, his handgun-toting friend on the left) At least six murder victims in Winnipeg in the past year are linked to a network of thuglife, gangster rap-styled, mainly aboriginal street gangs calling themselves Crips and Bloods after the major black gangs of L.A. The Black Rod has been monitoring these gangs for several months ever since discovering memorial tributes to victim Josh Prince on numerous pages on, a social networking website like Myspace and Facebook. Josh Prince , a student of Kildonan East Collegiate, was stabbed to death the night of May 26 allegedly while breaking up a fight. His family said at the time he had once been associated with an unidentified gang, but had since broken away. But the devotion to Prince on sites like Watt Street Bloodz and Kingk Notorious Bloodz (King-K-BLOODZ4Life) shows that at the time of his death he was still accepted as one of their own. Our searches of Bebo have turned up another five ga

Manitoba Hydro is on its deathbed. There, we said it.

Manitoba Hydro is on its deathbed. Oh, you won't find anyone official to say it. Yet . Like relatives trying to appear cheery and optimistic around a loved one that's been diagnosed with terminal cancer, the people in power are in the first stage of grief -- denial. The prognosis for Hydro was delivered three weeks ago at hearings before the Public Utilities Board where the utility was seeking punishingly higher rates for customers in Manitoba. It took us this long to read through the hundred-plus pages of transcript, to decipher the coded language of the witnesses, to interpret what they were getting at, and, finally, to understand the terrible conclusion.  We couldn't believe it, just as, we're sure, you can't--- so we did it all again, to get a second opinion, so to speak.  Hydro conceded to the PUB that it undertook a massive expansion program--- involving three (it was once four) new dams and two new major powerlines (one in the United States)---whi

Nahanni Fontaine, the NDP's Christian-bashing, cop-smearing, other star candidate

As the vultures of the press circle over the wounded Liberal Party of Manitoba, one NDP star candidate must be laughing up her sleeve at how her extremist past has escaped the scrutiny of reporters and pundits. Parachuted into a safe NDP seat in Winnipeg's North End, she nonetheless feared a bruising campaign against a well-heeled Liberal opponent.  Ha ha.  Instead, the sleepy newspeeps have turned a blind eye to her years of vitriolic attacks on Christianity, white people, and police. * She's spent years  bashing Christianity  as the root cause of all the problems of native people in Canada. * She's called for  a boycott of white businesses . * And with her  Marxist research partner, she's  smeared city police as intransigent racists . Step up Nahanni Fontaine, running for election in St. John's riding as successor to the retiring Gord Macintosh. While her male counterpart in the NDP's galaxy of stars, Wab Kinew, has responded to the controversy over

Exposing the CBC/WFP double-team smear of a hero cop

Published since 2006 on territory ceded, released, surrendered and yielded up in 1871 to Her Majesty the Queen and successors forever. Exposing the CBC/FP double-team smear of a hero cop Some of the shoddiest journalism in recent times appeared this long August weekend when the CBC and Winnipeg Free Press doubled teamed on a blatant smear of a veteran city police officer. In the latest example of narrative journalism these media outlets spun stories with total disregard for facts that contradicted the central message of the reports which, simplified, is: police are bad and the system is covering up. Let's start with the story on the taxpayer funded CBC by Sarah Petz that can be summed up in the lead. "A February incident where an off-duty Winnipeg officer allegedly knocked a suspect unconscious wasn't reported to the province's police watchdog, and one criminologist says it shows how flawed oversight of law enforcement can be." There you have it. A policeman, not

Winnipeg needs a new police chief - ASAP

When did the magic die? A week ago the Winnipeg police department delivered the bad news---crime in the city is out of control. The picture painted by the numbers (for 2018) was appalling. Robberies up ten percent in  a single year.  (And that was the good news.) Property crimes were up almost 20 percent.  Total crime was 33 percent higher than the five year average. The measure of violent crime in Winnipeg had soared to a rating of 161.  Only four years earlier it stood at 116. That's a 38 percent deterioration in safety. How did it happen? How, when in 2015 the police and Winnipeg's police board announced they had discovered the magic solution to crime? "Smart Policing" they called it.    A team of crime analysts would pore through data to spot crime hot-spots and as soon as they identified a trend (car thefts, muggings, liquor store robberies) they could call in police resources to descend on the problem and nip it. The police