The president of the Canadian Association of Journalists is weighing-in on the controversial firing of Victoria News editor Keith Norbury, who was forced out after publishing a story about a cross-border used car shopper. In an interview this morning with Public Eye, Mary Agnes Welch said, "We don't know all the details of the relationship between the editor and the newspaper. There could have been exacerbating circumstances. But, if in fact, it was this story - and one angry advertiser - that led to the departure of the editor and possibly one of the senior reporters I think this really calls into question the credibility of the paper. And, if I were a reader, I would wonder how many stories got either spiked because of an advertiser complaint or downplayed or soften because somebody complained or because the paper was fearful of offending an advertiser. As a reader, I would really start to question the independence of the paper."
"It's really so petty in many ways," Ms. Welch added. "Newspapers are a business. We are, to some degree, at the mercy of advertisers. It's just really unfortunate that - over such a small story - the newspaper would apparently cave like that."
In an earlier interview with Public Eye, Vancouver Island News Group president Mark Warner confirmed Mr. Norbury's firing was, in part, connected to a complaint by Dave Wheaton Pontiac Buick GMC Ltd. dealer principal Dave Wheaton. Reporter Brennan Clarke, who wrote the offending article, resigned earlier last week. The Victoria News, which is owned by Black Press Ltd., is part of the Vancouver Island News Group.