In a decision of the Press Council published Thursday, the latter upheld three of the grievances filed by Le Devoir journalist Amelie Pineda and citizen Suzanne Chollet, and placed the blame on Isabelle Hache, Marie-Eve Tremblay, La Presse, and 98.5.
Amelie Pineda, a journalist for Le Devoir, is the origin of A Investigation of Julien Lacroix It was published in July 2020 and addresses allegations of sexual assault and misconduct on his part towards several women.
Two years later, in November 2022, Isabelle Hache, columnist for La Presse, and Marie-Eve Tremblay, presenter of 98.5, published, article And a Podcast Titled “The Julien Lacroix Case, Two Years Later – Scars and Regrets.” In this content, journalists interviewed women who, after their conviction in the Le Devoir investigation, said they regretted denouncing the comedian because of the harmful public and private consequences that followed their testimonies. The article written by the two journalists also objected to Le Devoire’s investigative methods and raised questions about the work of Amelie Pineda.
The latter then filed a complaint with the Press Council. The complaint included several grievances.
Of these, seven were rejected and three were retained Press Council decision A complaint of incomplete information, a complaint of imbalance, and a complaint of the appearance of a conflict of interest.
“I am satisfied with the decision of the Press Council, which recognizes the significant shortcomings in the approach of Isabelle Hache and Marie-Eve Tremblay, who departed from many principles of the Ethics Guide,” confirms Amelie Pineda in an interview in response to the decision of the Press Council.
“It is unusual to file a complaint against colleagues, but their approach was also unusual.”
Complaint about incomplete information related to the interview request submitted by the newspaper “Le Devoire” by the newspaper “La Presse”. In Isabelle Hache’s article, the author wrote: “We requested an interview with Le Devoire in order to get their perspective on this issue. The newspaper accepted our request on the condition that it get our questions in advance. We have rejected this condition. »
However, if Le Devoire proceeded this way, it was “out of a desire to respect the ethical rules that govern our profession in a matter involving confidential sources,” as Amelie Pineda pointed out in her complaint to the Press Council. “Compromising the confidentiality of my sources would have affected public confidence in our profession and this decision strengthens Le Devoire’s position,” the journalist explained in an interview.
This element of context is not identified in the La Presse article.
The Press Council thus agreed with Le Devoire regarding this item. “Given the central role that Le Devoire played in the investigation, the reasons for the newspaper’s refusal to interview the accused were essential information for understanding the matter. The journalists learned that their refusal to submit questions to the newspaper’s management in advance duty It was not the only reason given by the media for rejecting the interview request. We read in the decision simply that “the newspaper accepted our request on the condition of obtaining our questions in advance.” It ignored several important reasons for the rejection, and prevented the public from fully understanding this rejection.
The council also upheld the complaint of imbalance.
According to Amelie Pineda’s complaint, “La Presse had relevant information that could have presented readers with a fair and balanced picture, but neglected to include information published by Le Devoir specifically regarding the approach [de travail sur soi] By Julien Lacroix and the progress women have made in this regard. She confirmed that “since 2020, Le Devoire newspaper has published ten texts related to the case of Julien Lacroix, conducted a video interview with him, and its journalists wrote numerous analyzes about the denunciation movement and its transgressions.”
She believes that “La Presse should have highlighted the efforts made by Le Devoire to clarify the issue.”
She adds, “After listening to the four episodes [du balado du 98,5]it is clear that they are [les journalistes] Ambiguous information, creating an imbalance that leads listeners to mistakenly believe that in July 2020 Le Devoir broadcast a damning investigation into the fallen comedian, without ever caring about the outcome, when in fact exactly the opposite happened.
The Board responded, agreeing with this complaint, that “because Le Devoire was one of the parties directly targeted by this new investigation, the journalists had an ethical obligation to give fair weight to the duty perspective in this matter.” “
“This could have been done, among other things, by clearly presenting elements that raise questions about its journalistic work to Le Devoire, so that Le Devoire can respond to them with full knowledge of the facts, or by reporting multiple follow-ups.” “Developments later made by Le Devoire in its 2020 investigation.”
The appearance of a conflict of interest
Finally, the complaint of the appearance of a conflict of interest concerns the friendship between Marie-Eve Tremblay and the current wife of Julien Lacroix, Maud Sabbagh, who testifies in the contents of La Presse and 98.5. Citizen Suzanne Chollet also filed this complaint in a separate complaint.
The Council confirmed that Marie-Eve Tremblay had failed to be transparent on this matter. “By interviewing a person with whom she had exchanged personal messages on social networks several times and for several years, the journalist placed herself in a clear conflict of interest. By conducting this interview without disclosing to the public the nature of her relationship with Julien Lacroix’s partner, Marie-Eve Tremblay did not take The necessary means to avoid the appearance of this conflict of interest.
turn the page?
“This decision today allows me to clarify my appreciation of the past year on this topic. Protecting my sources is non-negotiable, even if I have to suffer the repercussions. Journalism is not a show. My feelings were not important,” Amelie Pineda said in an interview.
He added: “The file developed within the competent authority, and today I can turn the page.” The journalist adds: “This complaint was not a matter of feelings or emotions, but rather a matter of ethics and respect for the ethical standards that govern the journalist’s profession.”
La Presse responded through its vice president for media affairs and deputy editor-in-chief, François Cardinal. “We remain convinced that La Presse’s reporting was of undisputed public interest, that it demonstrated exemplary rigor and that the journalistic approach respected the rules of the art. It constitutes an example of the kind of courageous journalism that provokes deep social reflection as well as the lively debates that are at the heart of La Presse’s mission.”
“We are pleased in this sense that the Press Council has rejected the majority of the eleven grievances submitted, and we would like to express our strong disagreement with the three grievances that have been maintained. We consider that these grievances are unfounded and that this decision creates dangerous precedents that would undermine The ability of all journalists in Quebec to conduct and publish investigations on topics of public interest – not just La Presse. “That is why we intend to appeal this decision,” he added.
Marie-Eve Tremblay did not want to respond to the council’s decision.
The complaints committee during the decision-making was composed of representatives of the public (René Lamontagne and Matteo Montigiani), representatives of journalists (Sylvie Fournier and Paul Vermot Deroche), as well as representatives of press companies (Maxime Bertrand and Eric Grenier). .
The Press Council notes that “when the complaint is upheld, the press organization targeted by the decision has an ethical obligation to publish or broadcast it.” Member press companies undertake to respect this commitment and to send from the Council proof of this publication or broadcast within 30 days of the issuance of the decision.
Repairs: The initial version of this article stated that Ms. Pineda filed a joint complaint with Ms. Chollet: however, these are separate complaints. The article also presented Ms. Chollet as the ex-wife of Julien Lacroix: this information has been removed. (12-21-2023)
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