To: Victoria Times Colonist
The statement in the Times Colonist’s columns that “nearly 1,000 people crowded Government Street on Saturday” to support Alexandra Morton’s wild salmon migration is outrageous.
I have seen first hand that between half and three quarters of the Legislature’s lawn was packed solid with people. This amounts to at least 4,000 to 5,000 people. The Globe and Mail agrees with my assessment.
By printing such incorrect statements in your columns, your paper is tampering – whether intentionally or not, I leave that to you – with the democratic process.
It also contributes to ruining the Times Colonist’s long-term reputation as a trustworthy source of information. Let me explain you why.
4,000 to 5,000 thousand people can directly attest that you got your numbers wrong. Those people are angry at you right now, because they feel at a personal level that their efforts to show up on Saturday to support Ms. Morton’s cause have not been recognized.
They are now talking or writing to perhaps 10 other people about their sentiment of frustration. [I, for example, am posting this letter on my Facebook which has 150 friends].
That’s 40,000 to 50,000 people who have heard first-hand from a source which they trust that the Times Colonist has either lied, or does not know how to report a story. They, in turn, will tell other people what they have heard from someone they know.
Also, tens of thousands of other people will have read both your report and that of the Globe and Mail, and will be left wondering why there is such a blatant difference in your two papers’ assessments of the numbers.
Finally, as we speak, tens of thousands of people are reading, hearing, or watching on the Internet reports from independent media and blogs about Saturday’s event which all confirm that several thousands of people – not “nearly 1,000” – were standing on that lawn on Saturday.
Perhaps you don’t realize that the format of media has changed. People (this may come as a shock to you) don’t need to rely on the Times Colonist for their news as much as they did a decade or two ago. For one thing, they can now cross-reference any of your statements.
By allowing such sub-standard reporting to seep into your columns, you are accelerating the decline of your industry. A correction in tomorrow morning’s edition of the Times Colonist may be a first step in restoring your paper’s compromised reputation.
(PS: I realize that my letter is over 200 words, but I don’t expect you to publish it either. Consider it "for your internal use" only.)