Canada’s QMI Agency, which is Sun Media’s national news wire, wrongly reported NHL player Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins was arrested for driving violations while in Ottawa this week. A big problem, though: Crosby was neither in Canada nor arrested.
The Ottawa Police’s media relations department confirmed to iMediaEthics, “we had no dealing with Mr Crosby.”
“I cannot vouch for everyone in the organization,” Constable Marc Soucy from the Ottawa Police Service’s media relations department told iMediaEthics: “but I can say that [QMI] did not talk to anyone in our office.”
QMI’s report was based on anonymous sources, according to a cache of the article. The use of anonymous sources was troubling especially because QMI didn’t say how many sources or how they were in a position to know such information (which it ended up they didn’t). iMediaEthics has asked QMI about this.
QMI retracted its story and admitted “There was no basis for the story and QMI unreservedly retracts the story in its entirety,” CTV News reported.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, for whom Crosby plays, and Ottawa police had denied the QMI story’s claims. The Penguins’ spokesperson told iMediaEthics by e-mail:
“The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken to Sidney Crosby. He is not in Canada, and was not in Canada yesterday. He is continuing his training in preparation for training camp.”
Ottawa police chief Charles Bordeleau also tweeted
We have had no dealings with Mr. Crosby. @ottawasuncom
— Charles Bordeleau (@ChiefBordeleau) September 3, 2014
The police’s Sgt. Steve Hodgson added the story is “a total, out-and-out blatant lie” in an interview with the Chronicle Herald.
The Ottawa Citizen reported that the story was unpublished from the Ottawa Sun website.
According to sports news site Awful Announcing and the Ottawa Citizen, the false story was published on news sites including the Ottawa Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Canoe.ca and has since been unpublished.
iMediaEthics found the article via Google Cache.
It was headlined “Penguins star Sidney Crosby arrested in Ottawa.” The Sept. 3 story, bylined QMI Agency, reported:
“Pittsburgh Penguins centre Sidney Crosby was arrested by Ottawa Police late Tuesday while driving a rented Porsche, sources have told QMI Agency.
“Reasons of his arrest were unknown, but appear to be driving related.
“Sources say Crosby was taken to the Ottawa police headquarters on Elgin street for fingerprinting and a mugshot.
“It is unknown at this time why the NHL star was in Ottawa.
“Ottawa Police have been unable to be reached for comment.”
iMediaEthics asked the police for confirmation QMI asked for comment.
iMediaEthics has asked QMI news editor Ted Rath who QMI contacted at the police for comment before publication.
UPDATE: 9/5/2014 9:39 PM EST Added statement from Penguins