Conflict of Interest in Canadian Press Report on Marineland

NIAGARA FALLS, ON, Nov. 28, 2016 /CNW/ - The Canadian Press did not disclose a clear conflict of interest when it let Liam Casey break news that included materials supplied to him by undisclosed activists regarding recent allegations and meritless charges by the OSPCA at Marineland.

Casey has been involved in legal proceedings with Marineland since he twice reported on allegations of abuse in 2013 that have proven to be groundless. That the Canadian Press has assigned him to issue two inflammatory stories about Marineland in the last two months without any disclosure noting this conflict indicates a serious breach of ethics and journalistic integrity on the part of the Canadian Press.

One has to wonder what his editor is thinking. 

In January and March of 2013, Casey reported claims that Marineland asserts to be defamatory and containing false information. The articles, based on allegations from former park employees, centered on OSPCA investigations into complaints by animal rights activists that proved baseless. No charges were ever laid against Marineland, and no further evidence beyond the statements made by disgruntled former employees was ever offered. Marineland filed a defamation lawsuit against Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. and reporters Linda Diebel and Liam Casey, a matter which is still before the courts.

Those articles were not the first time Casey has written an article that tried to discredit Marineland, nor would they be the last. Casey has been covering stories using anonymous anti-Marineland sources for at least five years, with virtually none of the claims Casey has given voice being proven to date. He injected one story with the suggestion that an orca might be genetically predisposed to kill a person, without a single quote from a marine mammal medical expert to back this incendiary claim. 

A recent news story carrying Casey's byline outlined efforts by animal rights activists to hire an investigator to review the actions of the OSPCA relating to the organization's failure to charge Marineland based on any of the false accusations activists have made against the park. The story made specific mention of the investigator targeting a massive investigation into Marineland, one that resulted in no charges being laid, and made it clear the goal was to apply pressure on the OSPCA over these lack of charges. No mention was made in the story of Casey's legal conflict with Marineland, or that it would be in Casey's personal interest to discredit Marineland, particularly as it related to baseless allegations he has previously reported on.

Last week, again based on information brought to Casey by another radical animal activist organization and anonymous sources, the Canadian Press issued a news report on further allegations against Marineland. Nowhere in Casey's reporting or in the Canadian Press coverage is there any mention of the reporter's conflict of interest. There can be no claim of neutrality in reporting from a writer with a clear potential for bias, and Canadians expect a higher standard of integrity from their news sources.

It is unfathomable that the editors at the Canadian Press could allow multiple articles by this reporter to cover stories that promote radical animal rights agendas, negatively paint any group or organization that does not conform to their views, and repeatedly target opponents with accusations which are continually determined to be baseless. It appears Casey is involved in a long-term campaign against companies like Marineland, and the Canadian Press is enabling this behaviour by continuing to give him a platform without alerting readers to Casey's biases or legal troubles as a result of his actions. 

Marineland calls on the Canadian Press to correct this gross oversight by adding disclosures to all materials written by Casey regarding Marineland across its network and to take steps to ensure there is no conflict of interest tarnishing its future reporting. 

Marineland is confident when the full, unbiased story is reported in context, the park's operations and reputation for the professional treatment of the animals within its care will be vindicated.

 

SOURCE Marineland

For further information: Marineland, Marketing Department, Email: marketing@marineland.ca, Phone: 905-356-2142

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