Maclean’s magazine has issued regrets after Quebec citizens and politicians disapproved of the magazine’s cover story labeling Quebec the nation’s most corrupt province. (Mondo Times reports that the Canadian national news magazine has a circulation of 2.8 million readers).
“The cover of this issue and the feature story clearly offended some readers, and this has been the subject of much debate. As a company we own a broad range of media properties across the country and editorial independence is an important cornerstone of our management philosophy. While challenging at times, this means we do not interfere with the editorial direction or content of our media properties in any way.
“On behalf of the company, we sincerely regret any offence that the cover may have caused. We value all of our customers and their perspective. Quebec is an important market for the company and we look forward to participating in the dynamic growth of the province and its citizens.”
The story on the “most corrupt province in Quebec” generated much feedback. The New York Times’ media decoder blog noted that Jean Charest, Quebec’s prime minister, sent a letter to Maclean’s, which said that the article did not meet journalistic standards. Further, Charest wrote that the article “discredited” the magazine.
As The Times reported, Charest’s press secretary, Hugo D’Amours, said the statement isn’t enough. “He didn’t ask Rogers for regrets,” The Times reported D’Amours said. “He asked Maclean’s for an apology.”
The Globe and Mail added that the House of Commons “passed a motion” on Sept. 29 “expressing its profound sadness at the prejudice displayed and the stereotypes employed by Maclean’s Magazine to denigrate the Quebec nation, its history and its institutions.”
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Also, television station CTV Montreal reported “Gilles Duceppe called the Maclean’s article xenophobic, others called it Quebec -bashing, and Jean Charest wants an apology.” And, he said, the controversial cover story “sold magazines.”
The Montreal Gazette called the cover story “a journalistic embarrassment” because Maclean’s used the word “most” in its headline.
“The flaw in logic here is blatant. Corruption by definition is hidden. There is no way of knowing how much goes on out of sight,” The Gazette argued.
The Globe and Mail reported Sept. 30 that Maclean’s conceded that there’s no way to statistically prove that Quebec is indeed the most corrupt province.
“It’s true that we lack a statistical database to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Quebec is an outlier among provinces. But that does not mean we are required to suspend all judgment in the face of a preponderance of evidence,” The Globe and Mail reported the magazine stated on its website. “If Quebec’s people and its press continue to expect the highest standards of ethics and probity from public officials, change will come. We sincerely believe Quebecers deserve better.”
iMediaEthics has written to Maclean’s for comment and will update with any response.