2019-55: MM vs National Post

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For immediate release – July 8, 2019

The National NewsMedia Council mediated and found that corrective action was taken to address portions of a complaint about the accuracy of a May 6, 2019 news story in the National Post.

The complainant argued in a four-part submission that the news story, which included details from Information to Obtain documents relating to investigations by Toronto Police Service into what was found to be a serial killer, revealed personal information about a victim that were inaccurate, biased, and provided an unclear representation of that individual.

In her submission, the complainant requested that the news organization correct a name error in the news story’s original headline, which had been widely promoted on the organization’s social media channels. She also argued that many details of the story were “sensationalistic,” “irresponsible,” based on “unfounded inference,” and added little to the public’s understanding of the case and investigation.

With regard to the first complaint, the news organization responded by admitting it made an error in a name in the story’s headline, and stated that a correction was made immediately. The news organization also said it deleted its original Facebook and Twitter posts and replaced them with accurate content.

The new headline of the story was updated to: “Andrew Kinsman was fascinated by serial killers before he became Bruce McArthur’s 8th victim”.

In its response to the complainant, the news organization described the process by which a correction can be better identified. It indicated that a new system to address such corrections is being developed and will more quickly cascade updates to member titles in the future.

On this portion of the complaint, the NewsMedia Council, therefore, deems corrective action to have been taken in accord with best practices. The Council recognizes that the news organization acknowledged the error and is taking steps to develop a more robust system to address any similar situation in the future.

With respect to the three other portions of the complaint, the news organized responded by stating its reporting was accurate based on the contents of the trove of court documents, and supplemented by interviews with expert sources. The news organization stated that it displayed sensitivity and discretion in reporting what the complainant referred to as “gratuitous details.”

Upon subsequent correspondence, the complainant chose to abandon these additional portions of her complaint.