In the decision of the Press Council published on Thursday, the latter confirms the three complaints filed by Le Devoir journalist Améli Pineda and citizen Suzanne Cholette, and accuses Isabelle Hachey, Marie-eve Tremblay, La Presse and 98.5.
Amelie Pineda, journalist at Le Devoir, makes an appearance Trial of Julien Lacroix Dealing with allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against him by several women published in July 2020.
Two years later, in November 2022, columnist Isabelle Hatchey at La Presse and anchor Marie-Eve Tremblay at 98.5 were released. An article and A Balado “The Julien Lacroix affair, two years later – scars and regrets”. In this material, the journalists interviewed women who, following the condemnation at the Le Devoir trial, expressed regret at the comedian’s condemnation due to the harmful public and personal consequences that followed their testimony. The two journalists’ article criticized the methods of the Le Devoir investigation and questioned the work of Amelie Pineda.
Following this, he lodged a complaint with the Press Council. There were several flaws in the complaint.
Out of which seven were rejected and three were retained Decision of the Press Council : One of the complaints of incomplete information is the complaint of imbalance and the appearance of conflict of interest.
“I am satisfied with the decision of the Press Council to recognize the significant flaws in the approach of Isabelle Hatchey and Marie-Ave Tremblay, who deviated from many of the principles of the ethical guide,” confirmed Amelie Pineda in an interview. Decision of the Press Council.
“Complaining against colleagues is unusual, but their attitude is unusual. »
Complaint about incomplete information regarding an interview request made by La Presse to Le Devoir. In Isabelle Hachey’s article, the columnist wrote: “We requested an interview with Le Devoir newspaper to get their perspective on the matter. The Daily accepted our request, provided it received our questions in advance. We rejected this condition. »
However, if Le Devoir has gone this route, it is because of “a desire to respect the ethical rules that govern our profession in a matter involving confidential sources,” Amelie Pineda pointed out in her complaint to the Press Council. “Risking the confidentiality of my sources would have affected public confidence in our profession, and this decision strengthens Le Devoir’s position,” explains the journalist in an interview.
This element of context is not mentioned in the La Presse article.
The Press Council thus agreed with Le Devoir on this element. “Given the important role played by Le Devoir in the case of the investigation, the reasons for Daily’s refusal to grant an interview to the accused are essential pieces of information to understand the matter. Journalists learned that the administration refused to submit questions in advance. Duty The media is not the only reason given for declining interview requests. “By simply stating that the Daily accepted our request on the condition that we receive our questions in advance, we ignored several important reasons for the denial and prevented the public from fully understanding this denial,” we read in the conclusion.
Lack of balance
The council also upheld the complaint of lack of balance.
According to Amelie Pineda’s complaint, “La Presse had the relevant information to give readers a fair and balanced portrait, but neglected to include the information published by Le Devoir regarding precisely the approach. [de travail sur soi] By Julien Lacroix and the advancement of women in this regard. “Since 2020, Le Devoir has published ten texts related to the case of Julien Lacroix, conducted a video interview with him and its journalists have written several analyzes of the protest movement and its violations,” he underlines.
He believes that “La Presse should have shown Le Devoir’s efforts to bring this matter to light.”
He added, “After listening to four episodes [du balado du 98,5]Clearly they are [les journalistes] Vague information creates an imbalance that leads one to mistakenly believe that Le Devoir aired a disastrous trial in July 2020 without ever caring about the consequences, quite the opposite.
The Council responded that, in agreement with the complaint, “As Le Devoir is one of the parties directly targeted by this new investigation, journalists have an ethical obligation to present a fair weight of duty perspective in this matter.”
“This could be done, among other things, by clearly presenting to Le Devoir the elements that questioned its journalistic work, so that Le Devoir could respond to them with full knowledge of the facts, or by reporting several follow-ups carried out by Le Devoir after its 2020 investigation.
The appearance of conflict of interest
Finally, the complaint about the relations of friendship between Marie-Ave Tremblay and Maude Sabac, the current spouse of Julien Lacroix, who testifies in the contents of La Presse and 98.5, is of interest. The grievance was raised by a citizen, Suzanne Solett, in a separate complaint.
The council confirmed that Marie-Eve Tremblay had failed to be transparent on this matter. “By interviewing a person who has exchanged private messages on social networks several times and over the years, the journalist involved himself in an obvious interest. Marie-Eve Tremblay, partner of Julien Lacroix, did not take the necessary means to avoid this conflict of interest. »
Turn the page?
“This decision allows me to clarify today my decision last year on this matter. Protecting my evidence is non-negotiable, even if I face consequences. Journalism is not a show. My feelings don’t matter,” Amelie Pineda said in an interview.
“The file has progressed into the appropriate system and today I can turn the page. This complaint is not a question of feelings or emotions, but of ethics and respect for the ethical standards that govern the journalist’s profession,” the journalist added.
La Presse responded through its vice president of information and deputy editor François Cardinal. “We firmly believe that La Presse’s reporting is indisputably in the public interest, that it demonstrated exemplary rigor, and that journalistic approach respects the rules of art. It is an example of the type of courageous journalism that provokes deep social reflection and lively debate at the heart of La Presse’s work,” he said.
“We are pleased that the Press Council dismissed most of the eleven complaints filed, and wish to express our strong disagreement with the three complaints that were upheld. We believe that these complaints are ill-founded and that this decision sets dangerous precedents that will undermine the ability of all Quebec journalists to conduct investigative reporting on matters of public interest. “We think – not just La Presse. That’s why we’re going to appeal this decision,” he added.
Marie-Ave Tremblay did not want to respond to the council’s decision.
At the time of the decision the Complaints Committee was composed of representatives of the public (Renée Lamontagne and Mathieu Montegianni), representatives of journalists (Sylvie Fournier and Paul Vermot-Desroches), as well as representatives of press organizations (Maxime Bertrand and Eric Grenier). .
The Press Council recalled, “If a complaint is upheld, the press organization targeted by the decision has a moral obligation to publish or broadcast it. Member press organizations must honor this obligation and send evidence of this publication or broadcast from the Council within 30 days of the decision.
Corrections: An initial version of this article stated that Ms. Pineda filed a joint complaint with Ms. Sollette: however, these are two separate complaints. The article also gave Ms. Cholet as Julien Lacroix’s ex-wife: this information has been removed. (21-12-2023)
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