Canada cry? Things just got a whole lot sadder for Banff

The Banff Centre, as we reported earlier, received a glowing write-up last weekend in the Globe and Mail. But who wrote it?

One of its own faculty members, apparently. Both Banff and the Globe and Mail need to apologise for the deception.

Here’s a second unpublished letter to the editor-in-chief of the Globe and Mail, copied to the publisher:

banff

 

Dear Mr. Stackhouse,

 
As someone who wrote extensively for the Globe at a time when journalism ethics were front and centre in its editorial departments (not to mention the time when musical matters were covered by musician-journalists), I am puzzled by Ian Brown’s identification as “the current Banff Centre Globe and Mail Canada correspondent” — whatever that means — at the bottom of his recent article on music at the Banff Centre. What the reader needs to know is that Ian Brown is on the payroll of the Banff Centre as a senior faculty member — the “Rogers Communication Chair” of the Literary Journalism program.
 
When a journalist writes on a company for the Business/financial section, they must disclose the fact that they own even one share in the company about which they are writing. Why should the arts require any less integrity of your paper?
 
I look forward to seeing a prompt correction published to Mr. Brown’s article that will clarify his conflict of interest. 
 
Yours truly,
Tamara Bernstein
Toronto

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  • Mind you, it isn’t exactly as if The Globe & Mail hired a Banff Centre employee to cover his employer.

    Ian Brown is evidently already a staff writer for the G&M as well as a former broadcaster for CBC Radio.

    It seems Brown is the first person to hold a fellowship position that’s a joint project of the G&M and the Banff Centre. Here’s the press release announcing the position and Brown’s appointment to it.

    So arguably the shirttail saying “Ian Brown is a staff writer and the current Banff Centre Globe and Mail Canada correspondent” constitutes disclosure. (Although a link to a brief description of the position and the project would be much preferable.)

    It may – or may not, I don’t know – be misleading for the Banff Centre to identify Brown on its website as a faculty member. And we don’t know if the Banff Centre is issuing, or necessarily contributing to, Brown’s paychecks.

    But it does seem clear that The Globe & Mail, and not the Banff Centre, is and has been Ian Brown’s employer. It may or may not be healthy journalism for this newspaper and this arts institution to be working together on this project, but I don’t think it’s quite the outrageous conflict of interest that it may at first glance seem to be.

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