The so-called "Canadian Psycho," murderer Luka Rocco Magnotta, was named by two major news agencies (The Canadian Press and QMI Agency) as the Newsmaker of the Year in the past 24 hours.
News directors across the country made the wrong choice.
For me, a "newsmaker" is, yes, a person who captures the attention of media consumers. But it is also someone whose actions in the past year have had a significant impact on society and the political discourse. Magnotta does not fit the bill.
His actions, as horrific and unusual as they were, were isolated and their consequences did not have any broad impact on society. No new laws were created, no governments were toppled and the lives of average citizens remained largely unaffected. Magnotta, for myself and more responsible journalists, falls into 2012's "s*** happens" file; a sad, senseless tragedy whose cause and consequences are, in the grand scheme of things, irrelevant.
The newsmaker choice is flawed from a quantitative standpoint: Nothing tangible (laws, policy, etc.) resulted from the man's actions, but it is also wrong from a moral standpoint. If your newsmaker of the year probably derives great pleasure from being named the newsmaker of the year, and whose news-making involves committing one grotesque crime in his search for infamy, then maybe you've made the wrong choice. Maybe you're giving him exactly what he sought when he decided to commit the crime.
I cringe even writing his name; I couldn't imagine giving him any more prominence than is absolutely necessary.
James O'Connor, managing editor of the Brandon Sun, said the allegations against Magnotta "ripped the lid off the unimaginably depraved underworld" of sadistic sex, mutilation and death. (CP)
Actually, Mr. O'Connor, that's exactly what Magnotta didn't do. There is no "depraved underworld" of sadistic sex, mutilation and death. That's a false narrative created by media producers desperate to sex up their own mediocre products by appealing to man's most primitive urges. That in itself is also depraved, and an undignified embarrassment to journalism.
That isn't to say that Magnotta shouldn't have been covered by media; it was a legitimate story because if its extraordinary nature, and because the killer was wanted for a time and posed a danger to citizens. But coverage by certain media was overblown and bordered on fetishistic.
The Delmar & Dwivedi Newsmaker of 2012
Supriya and I have come up with our own list of the top news stories of 2012, as selected only by ourselves in completely arbitrary fashion. There are a couple of lighter items on the list because we didn't want our show to be completely depressing, but as you get toward the top, I think you'll agree that our choices are more substantial than those of the news directors.
We'll reveal the full list during our year-end special on Sunday, Dec. 30 at 1pm on CJAD 800. But we will reveal now that Magnotta did not even crack our top 10, for the reasons I mentioned above (apparently no Quebec news director voted for Magnotta, which is interesting since the crime was committed here). Our newsmaker of the year is...
The Quebec student movement, collectively. Commonly known on social media as #GGI - une grève générale illimité.
This story has everything a sensational media and an informed electorate need in a top news item: Violence, mayhem, sexuality (remember the nude protests?), disruptions to the lives of citizens, new legislation (Loi 74), antagonists and protagonists, pocketbook concerns and a toppled government (Jean Charest gambled that his handling of the protests would propel him to a fourth term - he was mistaken).
The student protests and the subsequent political fallout is 2012's perfect news story. Magnotta is just a sideshow.
Note: Our choice for the #1 issue of 2012 is just our own and does not necessarily reflect the views of CJAD 800.