The Electric Pencil

Who’s afraid of Hoodstock?

leave a comment »

logo-hoodstock-091Hoodstock ’09 is this weekend – two days to mark the passing of Fredy Villanueva, shot dead by a Montreal police officer one year ago this coming Sunday (Hoodstock, by the way, is a combination of the slang term for neighbourhood and, of course, Woodstock). It will allow for a space to discuss the issues that this youth man’s death has raised: poverty, racism, racial profiling by police, gang violence. But it will also be a space of coming together around music and memories. Sunday will see a memorial walk from the site of Hoodstock. The march, scheduled for 5pm Aug. 9th, was called for by Fredy’s family.

All in all it presents itself as a sober, thoughtful and thoroughly necessary event for a neighbourhood, and city, still dealing with the issues that Fredy’s death has raised.

Which made the words used in last week’s Montreal Gazette article all the more frustrating to read:

At first glance it seems a little like the entertainment equivalent of a time bomb.

While the riots that followed Fredy Villanueva’s shooting last year and the fact that emotions could run high this year as well are both valid topics to cover in a piece about this weekend’s events, I find it incredible that a story would be lead off this way. In it’s opening lines it plants the assumption that there is a real threat of violence this weekend, and leaves it to spokespeople for the event to start on the defensive.

The rest of the article gives ample room to event organisers to explain the event, and the question of violence never comes back up. No quotes from residents who fear for their safety, no police saying they will be beefing up security in the area. So where does the introduction come from?

The piece is anonymous, so no way to contact the author to get an explanation. I can only see two possibilities: either a journalist with an agenda, or – maybe more likely given the tone of the rest of the piece – an attempt at a flashy, grabbing opening line.

A journalist with an agenda is arguably the more concerning of the two scenarios. But the second points to a carelessness just as problematic and misleading to readers.

La Presse, on the other hand, has a piece that deals with all the same issues, but manages to eschew the inflammatory first line.

Written by Tim McSorley

August 5, 2009 at 1:46 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: