(as sent earlier today)
Dear Ms. English,
Thank you for your letter of October 15.
I note that your letter does not refute any of the facts I submitted in support of my complaint of September 26. Although you and I agree on the facts, we disagree on what they mean.
Your response is ambiguous. You reject my allegations that the Star published corrupt news reports yet you specifically agree with me that Mr. Hamilton had an undisclosed conflict with respect to his Smart Grid promotional articles that the Star should have reported to readers.
When I assert that Mr Hamilton has engaged in corrupt journalism, I intend the term “corruption” to mean the impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle by a person in a position of authority. This general definition is accepted by groups as diverse as the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the American Nursing Association Code of Ethics, and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission of Kenya. One form corrupt journalism can take is concealing a conflict of interest for personal benefit.
The four articles of Mr. Hamilton I cited in my complaint demonstrate a sustained pattern of concealing conflicts of interests from readers.
Mr. Hamilton’s corrupt reporting only came to light when information about Mr. Hamilton’s friend Ben Chin was uncovered in the course of the gas scandal investigation at Queen’s Park.
Your letter makes it clear that the Toronto Star does not consider press corruption to have occurred when a reporter, ostensibly reporting news about some companies like IBM, GE, or Toronto Hydro, is receiving an undisclosed financial contribution from a project where IBM, GE, and Toronto Hydro are corporate sponsors. Since you deny that this is an example of press corruption, in the interests of transparency, please clarify the Toronto Star’s definition of press corruption.
You argue that because Mr Hamilton was writing about smart grid prior to being engaged by the government it was therefore less important for him to declare his conflict. You also argue that Mr. Hamilton was under a lesser obligation to disclose his conflicts when he switched from being a staffer to a freelancer. Notwithstanding Mr. Hamilton’s experience and educational background, you accept at face value his excuse that he didn’t think he had a conflict. I disagree with your judgement on all these points.
Although you specifically deny my corruption charge with respect to Mr. Hamilton repeatedly providing stealth PR in the pages of the Star on behalf of the corporate sponsors of his Smart Grid work, your response does not address my charge that another example of Mr. Hamilton’s corrupt reporting arises from his engagement with Air Miles.
As presented in my letter of the 26th, that complaint is supported by these facts:
– Reader complaints against Mr. Hamilton and his record of accepting awards from those he reported on should have alerted Mr. Hamilton’s editors at the Star prior to 2011 that his work needed to be closely supervised.
– On July 7, 2011, the Toronto Star published what appeared to be a news article entitled “A Rewarding Way to Influence Greener Choices”, promoting the Ontario Power Authority’s relationship with Air Miles. The article contains no reference to Mr. Hamilton’s personal relationship with Mr. Chin, then a VP at Air Miles.
– On September 8, 2011, Mr. Chin and Air Miles hosted Mr. Hamilton’s book launch at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto for his book “Mad Like Tesla”.
In my letter of September 26th, I put this question to you: How is it that nobody at the Star noticed that Mr. Hamilton’s September 2011 book launch was sponsored by Air Miles, a company he had promotionally profiled in a Star article two months earlier? I also put these questions to you: What steps did Mr. Hamilton’s editors follow to supervise his work? Was there any supervision?
Continued silence from the Star on these questions suggests that Star would not make an effort to disclose to readers similar concealed conflicts of interest in future. I urge you to acknowledge that Hamilton’s reporting on Air Miles appears to have been tainted and to recognize that the Star’s editors need to be more alert to such breaches of the reader’s trust in future.
Like McWynnty and the Liberal “spin machine”, silence on issues that are controversial and highly questionable is NOT acceptable any more.
There is an Ontario-wide “political awakening” right now and it isn’t diminishing.
The CITIZENS of Ontario know there is something terribly wrong in this Province and it isn’t with just a political party and it’s destructive policies. It involves many “arms of Government” and when a mainstream media source is implicated in that destruction, then they MUST defend their positions!
I will be as interested in seeing the response Ms. English returns to your “please clarify the Toronto Starâ€™s definition of press corruption” request as I will be her answers with regard to the 3 questions that stand out more clearly in the second-last paragraph.
Up-front provision of such definition clarifications would be helpful far beyond this specific instance or even as limited in applicability to the major media, IMO. It’s amazing what a difference a definition can make to anything, especially if its method of determination and application has never been publicly questioned or clarified.
Ira M. Ehrenpreis, General partner and on Tesla Motors, Inc. Board, 2007-Present
Cleantech Network, LLC
Cleantech Group, LLC
Cleantech Group, LLC Board
Nicholas Parker, Founder of Cleantech Group & at OPG Ventures, Inc.
Maurice F. Strong, Wealth Minerals, Inc.
Also view: All Board Members
Barbara – We seem to keep bumping into each other in comment sections around the ‘net – would love to meet you in person someday, to compare and share knowledge/ notes.
Since you’ve introduced Mau into the picture above and seem to be on a Corporate Knights roll below, I can’t resist pointing out this “background” gem in case you don’t already have it stashed in your research archives:
Much can be said about this subject as you have pointed out.
One point of interest is the circulation/distribution patttern of this publication not only in Canada but in the capital hill area of Washington where it reaches those in position to make policy decisions.
For example, if you want to sell “Wellies” then you advertise them in postal code areas where people live who are likely to buy “Wellies”.
“Mad Like Tesla”, by Tyler Hamilton
Published Sept. 1, 2011
“Tyler Hamilton is editor-in-chief of Corporate Knights magazine and a business columnist for the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper.”
Corporate Knights Magazine
Published in Canada by Corporate Knights Inc.
100,000 copies included in subscriber copies of The Globe And Mail.
10,000 copies included in subscriber copies of the Washington Post in the capital hill area.
Corporate Knights Inc., Toronto, founded 2002
Board of Directors includes:
Ross Wallace, MaRS Discovery District
Edward Broadbent, Corporate Knights, Inc.
Barbara – regarding your comment above, you might want to monitor developments facilitated and advanced by the partnership formed between MaRS Discovery District and B Lab in 2013, that I linked reference to, here: https://twitter.com/myAnthropad/status/393032638232924160
Contact me if you want additional references on B Corps and B Lab.
Ross Wallace , AstraZeneca , MaRS, Corporate Knights
Director, government affairs and corporate responsibility at AstraZeneca which is a UK pharma company.
“Corporate Responsibility Nonprofit, B-Labs, Shows Strong Growth”
The main idea is pay us money and we will certify your company as one of the “good guys”.
It seems that most who join are private companies that don’t have to deal with rasing capital in the financial markets.
But they are getting state corporate laws changed to be able to be like non-profits and for-profits at the same time.
These corporate responsibility ideas first came into fashion in the late 1970s.
Adds a burden on to companies to deal with social issues which thye are not equiped to do. Money that could be used to pay higher wages, dividens or grow the company goes to social causes. Just another way to extract money from businesses.
Follow the links in this article.
B Lab Board of Directors
“B corporations: Do they Really Indicate Good Companies?”
Certification range costs:
$500/yr for companies with less than $2M in annual sales.
$25,000/yr for companies exceeding $100M in annual sales.
Corporate Knights, Nov.16,2011, Press Release
Nicholas Parker, Chairman, Corporate Knights Inc.
Tyler Hamilton, Editor-in-chief Corporate Knights Inc.
He serves on several advisory boards including Clinton Global Initiative.
Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, DC
“Early Electric Car Charging”
Back in the early 20th century a charge was 25 cents or 10 cents per kWhr which was a lot of money at the time as men earned $1.00 for 10 hour work days.
Cost of owning electic cars killed the sale of electic cars as gasoline cars were cheaper to own and run with greater range.
And the early electic cars were nice cars but for the rich.
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