The Globe & Mail
Wednesday, June 17, 1998
page A2

Press council upholds complaint against Globe

References to Oliver, B.C., deemed harmful

Repeated references to Oliver, B.C., as the country's hate capital after the epithet had been retracted by its author compounded the adverse impact on the town's reputation, the Ontario Press Council said in upholding a complaint against The Globe and Mail.

Mark Templin of Ottawa, a former Oliver resident, complained that the label appeared in a front-page box and in two stories in March after The Globe reported that Sol Littman of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre had withdrawn his remarks.

Mr. Littman had used the description in January because the town was the site of an Internet Web server that provided access to racist material from a number of ultraright groups. The Web site later shut down.

In March, The Globe ran part of a letter to the editor in which Mr. Templin complained about the placement of a story about the visit to British Columbia of Princes William and Harry. However, it omitted Mr. Templin's complaint in the letter that the references to Oliver were "inaccurate and unfair".

The council said it was not until mid-April, two weeks after Mr. Templin wrote to the Press Council, that The Globe published a letter from him dealing with Oliver.

The Globe told the Press Council that it had made a mistake by continuing to quote the Oliver reference. It also said it was unfortunate that the references to Oliver were cut from the first letter, but thought it could repair damage by publishing a more detailed version taken from Mr. Templin's April 2 letter to the council.

Text of adjudication:

Mark Templin of Ottawa complained that The Globe and Mail referred to Oliver, B.C., three times in March as the hate capital of Canada while omitting the fact that Sol Littman of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, who originally labelled the town in those words, had previously retracted the description.

The Ontario Press Council recognizes that the newspaper's stories probably played an important role in leading to a shutdown of a Web site originating in Oliver that promoted racial hatred. But it also believes that repeated hate capital references without qualification had a serious impact on the town's reputation. And it notes that the newspaper admitted it slipped up by continuing to quote Littman's provocative comment after reporting the statement had been withdrawn.

Prompt publication of part of a March 23 letter from Templin drawing attention to the oversight might well have satisfied him. But it wasn't until April 16, two weeks after he had complained to the Press Council, that it published the pertinent segment.

The council agrees the omissions did not warrant an ordinary correction but believes a clarification would have been acceptable if published as soon as the omissions were drawn to its attention. The complaint is upheld.

Copyright © 1998 by The Globe & Mail. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.