Canadian Press criticized for “Newsmaker of the Year”

Luka Rocco Magnotta was editors’ top choice

Lin Jun, Luka Rocco Magnotta's victim (Facebook)

The selection of Luka Rocco Magnotta as Canada’s 2012 Newsmaker of the Year lit up the country’s social media and news web sites on Sunday with a cyclone of outrage and condemnation.

The alleged killer, who now sits in a Montreal detention centre as his case goes through the legal process, was the subject of a global manhunt last spring after a Chinese engineering student was killed, his body cut up and remains mailed to four different locations in Ottawa and British Columbia.

The event, including Magnotta’s capture last June at a Berlin internet cafe, was splashed across newspaper front pages and Web sites all over the world.

Magnotta was chosen in the annual poll of the country’s newsrooms by The Canadian Press.

Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae was among the first to express his anger and disappointment on Sunday, tweeting to 33,361 followers that the “Canadian Press reaches a new low with its naming Magnotta as ‘newsmaker of the year.’ Truly disgusting.”

After being challenged about the news value in a response by one his followers, Rae went on to say The Canadian Press had resorted to “cheap sensationalism” and that “lots of people had more impact and made more news.”

Toronto Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett tweeted the choice was “awful,” while Conservative MP Jay Aspin, who represents the northern Ontario riding of Nipissing—Timiskaming, called on the news agency to retract the selection.

“I appeal to decency & better judgement of the Canadian Press and ask them to rescind their choice of Luka Magnotta as Newsmaker of the year,” Aspin tweeted.

Heritage Minister James Moore was more restrained, suggesting The Canadian Press find a different way to pick its Newsmaker.

“Newsmaker of the year” ought not simply be the person with the most Google news hits due to morbid curiosity. Revisit the criteria #2cents,” Moore tweeted Sunday.

Magnotta was the choice of 22 per cent of the editors and news directors who cast ballots sent to them by The Canadian Press. The second place choice with 18 per cent of the votes was Amanda Todd, the B.C. teen whose suicide sparked a debate on bullying. NHL president Gary Bettman and players’ union head Donald Fehr was third choice with 15 per cent of the votes.

The news agency’s editor-in-chief noted that over the past few decades the poll has recognized other offensive newsmakers and events.

“The Newsmaker of the Year survey has been conducted by The Canadian Press since 1946 and over the decades, the country’s newspaper editors and broadcasters have at times made some controversial selections,” said Scott White, who pointed out that Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson, who was disqualified after a doping scandal, was voted Newsmaker in 1988 and convicted murderer Russell Williams was selected Newsmaker in 2010.

“The Newsmaker isn’t an honour or a popularity contest. It’s a determination by the journalists in Canada — the people who make up the front pages and put together the daily newscasts — about what Canadian made the biggest impact on the news that year. The stories we all cover are sometimes unpleasant and ugly. This choice reflects that reality,” said White.

Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him. A preliminary hearing for his case is scheduled for March to determine if there is enough evidence for a trial on the allegations against him.

The Canadian Press received a flood of emails throughout the day on Sunday expressing outrage with the choice and social media was abuzz with the story.

“The media sensationalizing these stories is part of the problem,” tweeted Luc Bouillon, a realtor from Montreal.

“Great nose for news, CP,” sarcastically wrote Brian Banks, in Toronto.

Still, others said Magnotta’s alleged victim, Jun Lin, was being demeaned by the choice and Aspin was not the only one calling for the selection of Magnotta to be rescinded. An online petition was circulated Sunday demanding The Canadian Press take back the choice.

“In our society, impartial and timely news reporting is important, but national recognition to someone who incomprehensibly dismembers a living person, posts it on YouTube, and cowardly flees the country, sends the message to Magnotta and villains to follow, “If you perform such a heinous act, you might just become, “Man of the Year,”” wrote organizer Andrew Schiestel on Sunday.

“As this decision was one of subjectivity, not impartiality, voted by editors across Canada, a different, more productive figure could have been nominated. This decision, not only distasteful to the vast majority of Canadians, is disgraceful and deeply inconsiderate to Lin Jun’s (the victim’s) family.”

Canadian Press criticized for “Newsmaker of the Year”

  1. The free press indeed – free from responsibility, free from humanity, free from common sense. Most killers of this type, including the recent shooting at Sandy Hook require and demand attention and media fame. The Canadian Press having no thought for responsibility or human understanding say – ‘but jeeze – this guy sold a lot of newspapers – he made us a bundle of money – think of the ads we sold”

    So the Canadian Press says to the Canadian public – “we dont give a damn about you – just keep buying our knee jerk stuff.”

    So now what do we say back to these fools?

    • Magnotta is a person who will do anything to get his minute of fame, kill people and cut them into pieces and send the pieces all over the country, or kill kittens etc., and put the pictures on facebook. So what does our Canadian Press do? Elects him to be the #1 newsmaker for 2012? And as a result, Magnotta has his face flashed across our T.V, screens once again! How irresponsible is that! What does that say to any other crazies out there?

  2. They knew their choice would generate more news and hence more $$$.

  3. I’m disgusted.

    I’m totally disgusted.

    This is just sickening.

  4. The criterion used by TCP is sound. It isn’t an endorsement, nor a popularity contest. It is about what has made the most impact on the news this year.

    But what is noteworthy is that the TCP made the wrong choice, if we are to base it on that criteria.

    As a result of Amanda Todd’s suicide, months of debate materialized in the form of editorials, journalistic pieces, and news media sought to poll the Canadian public through numerous polls on various related issues. In contrast, Magnotta didn’t inspire countless editorials, didn’t get the public to debate the issue, didn’t have the number of letters and opinions sent from ordinary citizens to their local news media.

    For this reason, I see the TCP in error here. By all of the above mentioned metrics, the biggest news story in Canada was the Amanda Todd suicide. Nevermind the impact on the news (which again, was far greater than Magnotta’s case) the news of Amanda’s death will reverborate for years to come within our government, education system, health, and welfare systems.

  5. The Canadian Press in making Luke Manotta the Newsmaker of the Year is now complicit in every crime committed by an unbalanced offender seeking notoriety. Unfortunately there is no criminal offence for which you could be charged but you have to live with the fact you are giving him exactly the attention he craves.

  6. OPEN LETTER TO TCP:

    ‘…and convicted murderer Russell Williams was selected Newsmaker in 2010′!!!

    Russell Williams’ was convicted of heinous crimes and sentenced to 25 years behind bars, where he is rotting in Protective Custody, before the end of 2010.

    Besides the myriad other differences between Williams and Magnotta/Newman, Magnotta’s case will have a preliminary hearing in March 2013. While there may be some who find his (alleged) entirely depraved character “newsworthy”, most Canadians have an urgent moral and emotional need to keep him as far from our thoughts as possible, at least until justice is served.

    To think, all these years my impression being of The CP, ‘it’s a reasonable voice in the mainstream media, something to be proud of in our modest and brave Canadian way.’

    *&!$ that!

  7. everytime a photo of the above mentioned murderer …I refuse to write his name…. was shown, I would remark how I couldn’t believe that the press were giving him so much photographic coverage…its what he wanted…and please members of the press let’s not fall back on that old tired song about how it is the public’s right to know…what about your “responsability” to that same public…I could have lived my whole life without ever having seen his photo….and now it is the story of the year….maybe for you the press…i would like to never see his face or name again..and I am sure that Lin Jun’s parents feel the same way..

  8. Just the kind of limelight this lunatic sought.
    And now he’s rewarded. Horrible.

    His name should really be banished.
    He’s a freak and the media panders to him like a freak show.

    How many can recall the victim’s name?
    The victims are the ones we should remember.

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