Poor reporting furthers the divide

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

January 30, 2007 Ed Cartoon

London’s sometimes tumultuous relationship with Western and its students has been well-documented on these pages before, but an article printed in The London Free Press has gone too far.

Yesterday’s Free Press reported on a murder on Ambleside Drive. Kulvir Grewal, an 18-year-old enrolled in health sciences at Western, is charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing incident.

The first half of the Free Press’ original article described who had been charged, where the incident occurred, and when it happened. The second half was an unfair, biased, sorry excuse for journalism.

For half its allotted space, the article rambled about the sorry state of the street " cars parked on lawns, shopping carts littering yards, garbage cans left by the sidewalk all week and students “just hanging around, like they’re looking for something.” We’d greatly appreciate it if the experienced journalists at The Free Press could explain to us what the hell this has to do with the stabbing.

In fact, if you were to slice the story in half and place the headline " “Teen stabbed to death” " above the latter half of the story, we’re certain most people would assume The Free Press’ headline writer was drinking on the job, since the two hardly match.

It highlights a continuing problem in London " the inability of the community and Western students to understand each other and get along without leaping to stereotypes (Londoners supposedly perceive students as rowdy, obnoxious troublemakers; students supposedly see Londoners as conservative, overbearing old-timers).

The stereotypes can only be erased and the rift between sides rectified if all involved accept some responsibility.

The City of London should be more proactive in reaching out to Western students. Get them involved in the community " let them know how to get involved in the community. Our school has lots of great people; take advantage.

Students should remember many Londoners base their feelings on personal experience. Do your best to make those experiences positive. If you move next door to an older couple, introduce yourself. If an old lady lives across the street, offer to shovel the driveway once in a while. Most importantly, be courteous. Friendliness goes a long way.

And perhaps most importantly, it would help if The Free Press didn’t print rubbish like yesterday’s article. It perpetuates stereotypes, and who’s to blame readers for wondering how bad students are if their daily source of news keeps unfairly associating students with negative situations.

Yes, Kulvir Grewal, the alleged killer, is a Western student. But if The London Free Press could explain to us what the murder has to do with a student neighbourhood or students in general, we’d be quite thankful. Perhaps then, someday, we could grow up and become “real” journalists like those at The Free Press.

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