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Debate on whose death gets reported

April 6th, 2009 · 7 Comments

A previous post about Wendy Ladner-Beaudry diverged into two streams: one that has tributes to Wendy, another that is a debate about why some deaths get more media coverage than others.

If it’s all right with everyone, I’d like to split that into two as it’s a bit jarring to read both together. People who want to write about Wendy should continue to do so under the original post. Others who want to contribute to the debate that’s been going on about reporting on deaths (to which I’ve attached all previous comments) can come here. I would like to emphasize, in response to calls I’ve had, that the Darcy McGee commenting here is a veteran commenter on this blog who has used this pseudonym for a long time and is not connected in any way to a relative of Wendy’s with a name that is similar, though not spelled the same.

Darcy McGee // Apr 5, 2009 at 2:37 pm

  • The day before this a baby’s body was found in a bag. Without diminishing the _personal_ loss that Wendy’s death has cause (and I’ve a friend who knew her well) is this death really more significant and worth of coverage than that child’s?

  • 5 hohoho // Apr 5, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Darcy, what a ridiculous question. Both deaths were reported in the news. This is not the time or place for measuring who’s death is getting more attention on blogs or inches in a newspaper. Is that really the most burning question you have about these senseless murders? It’s shameful.

  • 6 Darcy McGee // Apr 5, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Both deaths were not reported here.

    And no it’s not the most burning question I have about these senseless murders. It’s the most burning question I have a persistent media bias which values those in West Vancouver more than those in the rest of the city.

  • 7 fbula // Apr 5, 2009 at 6:29 pm


    I understand your concerns. I’ve written columns before about the difference in coverage between, for example, a young Asian woman connected to a wealthy family killed with a bow and arrow and a young Asian woman, an immigrant working in a Vietnamese restaurant killed by her boyfriend. Yes, a world of difference. I don’t think your examples here are valid, though.

    Do you honestly think that if the accomplished and community-minded sister of an MLA or MP from the east side of Vancouver (or Abbotsford or wherever) who was killed while jogging in a public park would not get massive coverage?

    And the reality is that Wendy lived a life that touched many, many people and the manner of her death is shocking and unusual. A few-days-old baby, disposed of in a way that is tragically all too common, hasn’t had the chance to live a life that is mourned by so many.

    One small note. I am not a mainstream news outlet, just one person. So I don’t report on all deaths here. Mainly on the ones that touch the areas I cover.

  • 8 Stephanie // Apr 5, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks, Frances. You’ve said pretty much what I was going to say.

    Certainly there are often important political questions that need to be answered in situations like this, but perhaps it would be sensible to wait a little while. And yes, that’s directed at Darcy’s commentary, but it’s also directed at Alex’s.

  • 9 fbula // Apr 5, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    I would have liked to see what you had to say, Stephanie. Well, maybe you can chime in as the conversation proceeds.

  • 10 Darcy McGee // Apr 5, 2009 at 7:43 pm


    I should have actually added to my post that I think you’re one of the better, more balanced journalists in this city. I was endlessly pleased when you joined the Globe and Mail.

    I understand the difference between mainstream journalism and this blog. I’m not meaning to be _aggressively_ critical of the fact that you didn’t cover the death of a child here, but it might have been nice to note that Wendy’s death wasn’t the only shocking one of the the week…the month…whatever reasonable “recent” period. The random death in Vancouver lately is shocking to me. I recognize that many of them are gang ware related but still the sheer number of them is shocking. It seems to have no end.

    This sentennce:
    > A few-days-old baby, disposed of in a way that is tragically
    > all too common,
    ….my god, it saddens me to the depth of my being to live in a world that a discarded baby is considered “all too common.” It just breaks my soul.

    I had a friend who knew Wendy. She was quite upset. Someone who touched my life was murdered when I was young. I sympathize with those who have lost. It’s the last I’ll say on the topic.

  • 11 Peter Edmonds // Apr 5, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Everyone here agrees that no one human life is more valuable than another, that we all share I’m certain.

    I hope that the media bias discussion will continue perhaps under another heading as these comments have clearly drifted off topic.

  • 12 A. G. Tsakumis // Apr 5, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Sorry Steph, I didn’t realize this was strictly a memorial page…

    Your comparing my comments to Darcy’s ill-timed and WRONG assertion, means that you either didn’t carefully read my post, or you just don’t like my point and couldn’t conjure the gray matter to reply accordingly. Your comment about my posting was idiotic.

    Item: A gay man was knocked into next century three weeks ago because he’s “a fag”…

    Item: A baby is disposed of like common trash.

    Item: Wendy’s murder.

    All within weeks…

    If you think I’m being insensitive by suggesting that we are doing nothing to stop this kind of senselessness, then too bad for you.

    All this must stop and the current system stinks.

    Catch and release is great if it’s a lazy Saturday afternoon and you’re plonked on the couch watching some fishing show…

    Wake up and spare me the piffle.

  • Darcy McGee // Apr 5, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Alex: What was wrong about my assertion?

  • 16 A. G. Tsakumis // Apr 6, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Hi Darcy:

    You suggested, I believe, that the reporting of Wendy’s death might be more important than that of the child found in a bag…

    It isn’t, but is it more newsworthy…well, that also depends on who’s listening or watching the report….an unknown infant, with few details to the story…a beloved, accomplished woman who had her life snuffed out in the most brutal of ways, in a very public well-used park.

    I think I’ve painted the picture for you: Is one death more significant than another? Without getting into a philosophical back-and-forth, of course not. But is one story more news worthy than the other? Absolutely.

  • 17 Darcy McGee // Apr 6, 2009 at 4:29 am

    Alex: you’ve got that 100% backwards. Ironic, given that you say Steph failed to not “carefully read [your] post.”

    Perhaps, like so many people who are active in politics, you’re developing the habit of hearing what you want to hear rather than actually listening?

    Both of this province’s party leaders are exceptional at it. You’ll do well.

  • 19 Stephanie // Apr 6, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Alex: I don’t believe that the problem is a failure to understand you. However, if people do misunderstand you, you might want to consider that you are so gratuitously unpleasant that whatever point you might have is obscured by your delivery. Perhaps if you were to adjust your signal-to-noise ratio to something reasonable people might want to engage with you.

    The death penalty is a serious topic, and I would prefer to discuss it with serious people.

  • hohoho // Apr 6, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Darcy: “It’s the last I’ll say on the topic.”

    Unfortunately, you didn’t.

    It is you who is bringing politics into this and hearing what you want while twisting the words of others. And you’re doing it in the most shameful way possible by using these murders to criticize other people or their politics. What the fuck does any of that have to do with these horrible murders?

    You are digging your hole deeper with your incredibly insensitive statements, and are attacking people for pointing that out. You are the one who seems like a calloused, cold and heartless individual based on your comments so far. And how you managed to out-do Alex in that department is pretty remarkable (no offense, Alex).

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