National Post reporters rebel against racism denial column (2023)

According tonational mailopinion editor who made the observation in the interior city hall.

VICE News obtained the recording of City Hall on June 10, as well as an email exchange between the paper's reporters and Editor-in-Chief Rob Roberts regarding an article entitled "Canada Is Not a Racist Country, Despite What liberals might say".


An email sent to Roberts on June 4 described Murphy's column as "lazy, ignorant" and inhumane to black and indigenous people. It was signed by about 30 reporters, that is, more than half of the Post's staff.

"For journalists of color innational maileditors, every time an article like this is published we feel less welcome in this journal and we are closer to leaving the industry," the email reads.


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At the next town hall, which lasted nearly two hours,PositionJournalists questioned editorial managers about how the column was published, why there was no public accountability, editorial independence and lack of diversity at the company.

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Roberts e Matt Gurney, oPosition'The Opinion Editor explained to the staff that Murphy's column had been published as a result of a misunderstanding where one thought the other would edit the article, which was discussed as an option on the front page.

"Rob thought he was being edited in the comments section and I thought he was being edited in the news section. By the time either of us realized that neither he nor I had done a proper editorial review, it had been edited, corrected and posted online," Gurney said at City Hall. "It was crazy and I know it's not a satisfying answer for everyone here and it certainly isn't for me to offer."

Onational mail, a thrift store founded byrecently pardoned Conrad Black, is the flagship newspaper of Postmedia, Canada's largest newspaper network.

In an email, Phylise Gelfand, Postmedia's vice president of communications, said the company would not respond to questions about a confidential internal meeting.

Murphy's column was published on June 1, following a week of protests across the United States over the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder after a video went viral of him kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes.


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Floyd's death sparked outrage over anti-Black racism, police brutality and a broader debate about the pervasiveness of systemic racism, including in the media.

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Murphy's column argued that most Canadians are "terrified by racism".

"In fact, we are not a racist country, although saying so may shock some," he wrote.

Gurney said that Murphy's column was "not at the level I would have liked". Specifically, he said that the claim that Canada is not racist, which eventually made headlines, was "indefensible".

“I wonder if it was an ongoing violation, why did it take a week?” asked a City Hall reporter, while another asked why there was no public explanation.

Roberts did not commit to publishing an editorial note in City Hall, although he said the column did not meet the Post's standards.

“Rex was clearly writing from his own experience. He was wrong, but he was writing from his own experience," said Roberts. "We brought in other people who disagreed, and we countered him quite successfully."


However, after VICE News contacted Roberts with a list of questions, thePosition added a notein a column that says: 'It was found that there was an error in the normal supervision of the processing that the columns should have undergone. This issue has been identified and the policy has been changed to prevent it from happening again."


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financial courierjournalist Vanmala Subramaniamwrote a refusalin an article by Murphy titled "Before You Say Canada Isn't A Racist Country, Do Your Homework", published in the paper on June 2. (Disclosure: Subramaniam and I worked together at VICE and remain friends.)

During the City Council, columnist Terence Corcoran said he did not understand the problem of "debate in the newspaper".

In an email received by VICE News, Corcoran described the outrage over Murphy's column as "unhealthy complacency" that "undermines the fundamental ideas behind freedom of the press."

Corcoran said that Subramaniam's rebuttal, which discussed specific examples of systemic racism such as police brutality against black people, "contained a variety of disapprovals based on age, skin color and implied that Rex's views represented corporate racism on a large scale". . Canada's view as a racist country is at least as debatable as Rex's claims to the contrary."

Subramaniam's article actually described Murphy as a "73-year-old white male".

Subramaniam said he did not comment on Corcoran's email.


Roberts said that Murphy "encouraged us, or certainly didn't object, when we were doing parts that put him to task".

Roberts did not respond to a VICE News question about whether rebuttals in Murphy's columns are verified by him before they are published.

When discussing why Murphy wasPosition'a "go to" columnist on anti-black racism, Roberts said he also raised the idea of ​​writing an article about "the conservative cause of Black Lives Matter".

City Hall also referred to the fact that only a few people of color work at the post office.

One reporter noted that the Post has hired at least 11 editors in recent years, but none of those jobs have gone to people of color.

"Have you thought about the structural problems with this company that have resulted in us being far more white in the upper echelons in 2020 than any conservative party would allow?" asked the reporter.

Julie Traves, the paper's assistant editor, told City Hall that the company had reached out to people of color "who, for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the content of our paper or our staff, have been unable to join us. Traves said the paper needed to better prioritize diversity.

Gelfand told VICE News that Postmedia newsrooms don't keep diversity statistics tracking how many people of color they employ.


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"We conduct comprehensive interviews that include content submissions and hire the best candidates - regardless of skin color, background or affiliation," he said in an email.

“Postmedia, like many companies, is taking this time to review our hiring practices to ensure we are doing everything we can to hire people from all walks of life. We embrace diversity because we know it makes us stronger as an organization. At Postmedia, we do not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment of our employees.”

During the town hall, Roberts was asked if reporters could publicly denounce columns like Murphy's on Twitter, in the spirit of free speech. He said it was against company policy.

“We all work for the company, the company has corporate interests and brand protection and that sort of thing. They decided they have a policy, this is the policy," he said.

In an email from reporters to Roberts, they said: "Honestly, some of us fear for jobs as we write this letter. However, we feel compelled to speak up because we are interested in this article.”

Lately,New York Timesreporters publicly denounced Republican Senator Tom Cotton's newspaper column calling on the military to crack down on anti-racist protests across the country. The editor of the newspaper's editorial page, James Bennett, later resigned.admitted that he had not read the article before publishing it.

During the City Council severalPositionJournalists also expressed concern about the pressure to ideologically distort the news, which is not supported by the reports.


last yearCanada published a surveyabout editorial interference with Postmedia, the parent network of the National Post. The story alleged that Postmedia chief executive Andrew Macleod told Post editors that the paper was not conservative enough.

Macleod hired Kevin Libin to oversee federal and provincial political reporting, the story goes.Canada's early historyhe claimed that Libin was trying to discouragePositionunion workers; the newspaper's trade union movement ended up failing.

At city hall, Libin said he was "surprised" that reporters felt his relationships had been affected.

At the time of publication,Positionpublished three additional pieces by Murphy.

Siga Manisha no Twitter

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story attributed a Rob Roberts quote to Kevin Libin. This has been corrected.


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