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William Thorsell

Editor-in-Chief of the Globe and Mail newspaper


Achieving the last five percent of a goal costs at least 30 percent of the effort and risks 100 percent of the project.

Feb. 2, 2001 - from "The costs of getting to perfection", published in the Globe and Mail
... governments ban the keeping of ethnic data in relation to crime, educational attainment or family breakdown, and journalists are generally pleased to accept these conditions because they, too, fear the scourge of racism and do not want to play any part in contributing to it. Understandable as this is, it is a mistake, especially for journalists. It is the very purpose to report the whole truth about significant social, economic and political events. Had we decided 25 years ago that the truth about conditions on native reserves and territories was "too hot to handle" - in effect, that the public cold not be trusted with the truth - we would have been cruelly derelict in our duty to Canadian society, including the aboriginals.

The incidence of wife abuse may differ significantly among Canadians of various ethnic backgrounds, but unless it be aboriginals, the media shy away from reporting it. Drug trafficking and racketeering may be dominated by Canadians (or refugee claimants) with ties to particular countries, but the media rarely note these peculiarities. A rising incidence of armed robbery with violence may be traced in significant part to a particular immigrant community, but the media will almost never investigate the possibility ... We practice a double standard in this kind of reporting, and so doing, we practice bad journalism.