Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Toronto Life accused of misleading readers in cover story on gun violence

Toronto Life's current cover story comes in for some harsh criticism from a regular contributor for misleading its readers. In a posting on , the website of the Canadian Journalism Project, Douglas Bell, a regular contributor and, until recently, a daily blogger at the magazine, says TL neglected to publish readily available statistics that put the issue of guns and violence in context.
In the sort of “trend” piece so beloved of that publication the magazine suggests that Toronto’s recent, much publicized spate of gun violence indicates that somehow the denizens are growing insensate to guns and their attendant violence....Written by the reliable John Lorinc, the piece does a good job of reporting the facts on the ground but fails in even one instance to place this “trend” in any sort of context. The issue is violence, not guns. By conflating the two Toronto Life gets to leverage its readership by way of the oldest most reliable editorial draw there is: fear.

Hence it is both thoroughly understandable and thoroughly reprehensible that nowhere does Toronto Life report the following statistics:

Homicide rates per 100,000 according to Statistics Canada (as reported by CTV News):

* Regina, 4.5
* Saskatchewan, 4.1
* Edmonton, 3.7
* Saskatoon, 3.3
* Toronto, 2.6
* Ottawa, 2.1
He also provides statistics of homicide rates in comparable Canadian cities that are 3 to 8 times higher than Toronto.
In short, the entire premise of the Toronto Life piece is (as defined by professor Harry G. Frankfurt is his estimable book On Bullshit) bilge. And if I may borrow from the great man’s thesis: the piece is “grounded neither in belief that it is true nor, as a lie must be in a belief that it is not true. It is just this lack of connection to a concern with truth this indifference to how things really are-that I regard as the essence of bullshit.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having comparative statistics to show that fewer people per capita are killed in TO than in Regina's sad reality (or Chicago's brutal killing fields) may make some Toronto typists feel better or even smug, but that's not the point of Lorinc's fine piece- T.O. must address this slaughter.

One of those bullets names a friend of one of my children.

People are real. Stats are bullshit.

4:29 pm  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home