A farmer named Pickton in B.C, is reported to have butchered and murdered upwards of 50 women in the most gruesome manner.  Pickton’s trial is expected to last at least a year. Every paper  in the country is carrying this appalling story on its front pages.  Do papers like the Globe and Mail run this stuff on its front pages because the G&M believes this is what its regular readers want to read or because the G&M wants to acquire new readers?

        What does this salacious coverage say about the relative importance of news and about journalistic values? 



  1. 1
    Cate McB Says:

    I can’t say anything about the intentions of the Globe & Mail. However, I think that the murder trial of someone who allegedly killed upwards of 50 people (in this case women) should be on the front pages. If fifty-some Canadian soldiers were murdered in Iraq or wherever, that would probably be on the front pages also and rightly so. In my humble opinion, I think we need to know what’s going on in our society even in the most gruesome situations, although I’m not sure that we always need all of the gruesome details. It’s Picton who’s actually on trial, but I also think that our larger society is on trial with him, i.e., if it is true that he killed all these women, how could he have done it alone? Who and what attitudes supported him? And who, if anyone, knew what was going on, etc. The fact that his victims were exclusively poor and mostly native women enlarges the zone of possible questions for me. So maybe the story needs to be on the front pages for a while so that hopefully, many such questions may be dealt with. Cate McB

  2. 2
    Trouffel Says:

    I think such a case inevitably merits some coverage, if at least out of a sense of justice for the women who were murdered. However, it cannot be denied that the press panders to a voyeuristic fascination with the gruesome and macabre nature of such events. When it’s happened to other people somewhere else, repulsion and captivation become intertwined. This is nothing new, which is why numerous serial killers over the last century seem to have an almost celebrity anti-hero status. The same instincts cause many drivers to slow at a car crash and gaze at the wreckage. Of course, this is not agreeable behaviour, and this ghoulish curiosity should maybe be balanced out with some honest respect for the situation and the victims involved.

  3. 3
    Alien Says:

    Every time I see this on the news or newspapers or even here reading this, I get this awful urge to puke. This story is so so bad.

  4. 4
    jim Says:

    The newspaper’s management’s job is to sell newspapers at any cost. If there is no news – make it up. If they smear or err on page one, bury the retraction on page thirty. Always stretch the truth to make the situation worse it sells more papers. They are not neutral politically. They are biased when choosing or omitting stories.They’re into yellow journalism when they push the likes of the Pickton story for too long. On the other hand they do a good job on the bottom of bird cages. PS Have you noticed that good news doesn’t sell papers.

  5. 5
    Ann D Says:

    The Pickton trial gets sensationalist coverage, all right — whereas the work of Reverend Kevin Annett goes largely unrecognized in the press. Annett is the former United Church minister who began uncovering large-scale abuse in BC’s residential schools. He was rewarded by being defrocked, ostracized, and basically ruined by the United Church hierarchy, in close alliance with the pulp and paper barons.

    Many of Pickton’s victims were, of course, First Nations women — in his own way, Pickton is furthering a long, unspeakable tradition in Canada.

    Kevin Annett has written two important books: LOVE AND DEATH IN THE VALLEY, and HIDDEN FROM HISTORY (on genocide of First Nations people in Canada). He also appears in a new film, UNREPENTANT, which is available at his website

    I highly recommend Annett as a writer, thinker, and man of deep conviction who has been almost destroyed by Canada’s refusal to look at its own dark side. Crimes against humanity have been committed in this country, with the tacit support of our government and religious authorities, and yet the vast majority of white Canadians are in dangerous denial of that fact.

  6. 6
    Paul Geraghty Says:

    Ann – thank you for the heads up although it is a terrible way to learn that my own denomination (RC) is not the only one to slaughter its whistle blowers (see the Bishop Gumbleton affair) If it were not such a serious matter I would say that I was delighted to hear that the United Church has a dark side too.

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