A human rights complaint in Prince Edward Island may define who is considered a journalist — or at least who is allowed in the P.E.I. legislative press gallery.
By Eric Mark Do, The Canadian Journalism Project
In October 2009, Stephen Pate, a local blogger and disability advocate was kicked out of the press gallery by a vote of 11-2. He filed a complaint against the legislative press gallery a year later alleging that it was an act of discrimination based on his disability. Pate has post-polio syndrome and he says he’s confined to a wheelchair for much of the time. The discrimination allegations have not been proven in court or before a human rights panel.
The circumstances leading up to Pate’s removal from the gallery bring into question what a member of the press is allowed to do.
Pate is the leader of Disability Alert, a group that advocates for rights of the disabled. That group’s blog is now a part of Pate’s NJN Network, a blogging site. He is a director for both organizations.
It seems that the press gallery sees him as an advocate and not a journalist. But Pate argues that advocating for disabled rights is not a conflict for a member of the press gallery. Pate cites former broadcaster and current lieutenant governor of Ontario David Onley, who also has post-polio syndrome, as an example of a journalist who advocated for disabled rights.
Wayne Thibodeau, press gallery president and a reporter for the Guardian, says he doesn’t agree with Pate that he is a journalist and expressed concern that his actions jeopardized the independence and freedom of the press in P.E.I. To read more, please go to J-Source.ca
For additional comment see Time For Journalism To Give Up Myth Of Neutral Perspective by Sherwin Arnott.
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network