I don’t envy my colleagues in the news business. All the editors, news directors, newsroom managers were faced with a difficult decision: Do we post the Rob Ford video or not?
There should be a straight yes or no answer. What does this add to Rob Ford’s story? Nothing; the man is dead. This does nothing but remind his family of that fact, and dredge up what is likely still an open wound surrounding his addiction problems.
But the problem is it advances the Sandro Lisi story. Lisi was supposed to be on trial for extortion; the allegations concerning the crack video. Yesterday he appeared in court, and events were set motion to dismiss the charges against him. The main reason this video was kept under wraps disappeared. It was released.
I kept going back and forth on whether I’d release it. The newshound in me saw the reason to release the video: it added to Lisi’s story. At one point, the video was consistently referred to as “the alleged video.” Only two Toronto Star Reporters (Kevin Donovan, and Robyn Doolittle) had seen it. The alleged portion of that dropped when former Police Chief Bill Blair announced it had been seized. Having a video that’s been whispered about seized, and part of a court case suddenly released is news.
The human side of me realized it adds nothing to Rob Ford’s story other than sadness. It underlines his struggles, and reminds his family of a time they would rather forget. This isn’t a newsworthy story from that perspective; it only prolongs agony. As viewer it would make me ask “why this is even a story. The man’s dead.” It makes me squirm.
If I had to decide I’d compromise. I’d post it on the website but at the same time as I had a few other items to post. I wouldn’t promote it very much; people find videos like this no matter what. There’s still a hunger for news about Rob Ford. Maybe I’d mention it on a newscast or two, but that would be all. The story is over, the book is closed.