Feeding the Hand That Bites You

Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Toronto:Jorgenson Hall - L-72, Ryerson University, Toronto, 350 Victoria St. (at Gould)

What should Investigative Reporters do
when the State comes calling - with a stick in its hand?
Four Case Studies

Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Jorgenson Hall - L-72, Ryerson University, Toronto, 350 Victoria St. (at Gould)

Featuring: Author Stevie Cameron, Juliet O'Neill (Ottawa Citizen), Andrew McIntosh (National Post), and Ken Peters (Hamilton Spectator)

Moderator: Peter Desbarats, former Maclean Hunter Chair of Media Ethics, Ryerson Polytechnic University

Presented by Poking the State With a Stick Enterprises., in association with
the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and the Ryerson School of Journalism.

There are no rule books and few reliable guides to assist investigative journalists who set out to probe the State - only to find it hitting back via the police, the courts and even CSIS, our homegrown spooks.

What do you do when the State comes calling?

# The RCMP turned up at the offices of the National Post's Andrew McIntosh demanding his copy of an allegedly forged document that was a key twist in the murky Shawinigate scandal. His paper fought the search warrant and won a lower court ruling that says freedom of the press can sometimes trump police investigative demands.

#The RCMP tailed the Ottawa Citizen's Juliet O'Neill, tapped into her e-mail, pawed through her garbage - and then raided her office, her home and her underwear drawer, all in an effort to learn the identity of a source they say may have broken national security laws by leaking her a document outlining their case against Maher Arar.

# Hamilton Spectator reporter Ken Peters used confidential city documents to write an expose of a troubled nursing home. Ten years later he faced a possible jail term after a Superior court judge in a civil suit found him in contempt for refusing to reveal his sources. In the end Peters was ordered to pay $31,600 in court costs.

# Author and investigative reporter Stevie Cameron initially agreed to meet RCMP officers who were playing catch-up to her investigations of allegedly corrupt Canadian government officials. Nine years later the RCMP claimed in court that she was a confidential informant and it landed on the front pages of a national newspaper. The claim eclipsed the real story about government corruption and came close to destroying her reputation.

In a forum moderated by veteran journalist Peter Desbarats, this quartet of battle-hardened investigative reporters will quiz each other on the following questions:

1) Should an investigative reporter ever turn over evidence of a crime he/she uncovers? What principles govern that decision?
2) What should/must reporters know in order to best deal with the state when it comes calling?
3) Do journalists in Canada need a general shield law that protects them from having to reveal confidential sources?
4) In a free and open society, what kind of police/investigative journalist relationship serves the public interest best?

For more information or to arrange interviews with any of the panelists, please call Bill Dunphy - 905.526-3262 or e-mail at bill.dunphy@gmail.com

Poking the State With a Stick Enterprises is a joint effort of Bill Dunphy, Kimberley Noble and Jan Wong, and has nothing to do with their respective employers.