When is a quadriplegic not a quadriplegic? When Karen Robinet does the research.

A photo of Karen Robinet. Image: Robinet’s Facebook page

In what read more like a tragic comedy than an opinion column, Karen Robinet hurled a slew of insults at CKReview News in Chatham This Week (CTW). To set the record straight on the falsehoods Robinet wrote, I feel obligated to respond. Her column followed a terse interaction only days earlier on my Facebook page where Robinet tried her best to troll. She took her beef to her column, probably because she was being mocked by people on Facebook for suggesting I was exposing myself to libel by writing about the Hopkins investigation. None of what she attempted to argue on Facebook appeared in her article. This has been a pattern for Postmedia employees over the years as well, it’s not new to me. Over the years, most of our big stories have come under attack by Postmedia employees or former Postmedia employees. The story about the Hopkins investigation clearly took the side of the families and in no way was presented as an unbiased news story by CKReview News. It had some new information in the story, but it was obvious to anyone who read it that it was my opinion that the families concerns were not addressed by the OPP investigation. It’s a position I remain holding.

Not Tragic And Not Funny, Just Disgusting

Showing the same amount of compassion as any holocaust denier does, Robinet denied Tanner Whiteye’s injuries and told her readers that Tanner Whiteye is not a quadriplegic. Without speaking to Whiteye, his doctor or his family, or having any medical background herself, Robinet claimed the CKReview News article was incorrect. She even provided her “research”, while criticizing mine. So what was her research? She read in a Postmedia report that Tanner Whiteye can use his upper body. I knew that before I wrote my article as I spoke with Whiteye in person and saw him using his hands as he spoke to me. The label quadriplegic does not apply solely to those who are completely paralyzed from the neck down, even partial paralysis qualifies a patient as quadriplegic, something Robinet would have known had she looked up the term or even watched the Invictus Games. Instead, in her haste to take a run at me, she confirms the stereotype of an uncaring non-native media when it comes to First Nations people and outright denied he is a quadriplegic. She owes Tanner and the Whiteye family an apology and she should retire. That single insensitive comment should end her career in journalism. It’s that kind of filth that shames the entire industry. Tanner Whiteye’s condition continues to improve according to his mother Yolanda and he has been taking rides in a specially fitted van as a passenger lately. But that bit of news won’t get to you via CTW, they are more interested in these pages than Chatham-Kent families in Moraviantown.

Humour Me

I find blatant hypocrisy funny. Like hearing Donald Trump talking about women’s rights, or published articles that complain CKReview News did not attribute quotes in a story and yet, never mentions CKReview News or me by name. Robinet should take her own advice and has no excuse for not providing her readers with my company name or my name, in an article that refers to both. Especially considering she was in contact with me leading up to her article and she was commenting on my Facebook page regarding the story. She could have asked me why I did not attribute quotes to people, but she didn’t do her research. The article clearly states I was not allowed in by the OPP and so the quotes of what was said by the families inside the Brunner Centre were taken from the audio tape of the meeting. Basic reading comprehension is all that is required to determine that, from the original article. This was a meeting between 30 grieving family members and a half-dozen OPP officers and the audio was not in my hands until five days following the event. The quotes are accurate and we have good reason to not have names attached. Robinet doesn’t.

CKReview News has an online reach well beyond CTW. My “purported company”, as Robinet describes it, has employed about a dozen people over the years locally, has had an office and as yet non-functioning broadcast studio on King Street for over three years in Chatham and has had over 1.1 million hits. We have a reach that is more than twice the size as CTW has online. 1500 of my 2100 Facebook friends have not liked CKReview News and still click and share when I post news on my personal page. That’s 1500 over the 6100 we have on the CKReview News page and I share anything I personally wrote on my Facebook page as well as on CKReview News. CTW has much less than 1/2 that reach. Literally we dwarf CTW in online readership, probably because we often give hard news that isn’t found anywhere else until 12 hours later, if at all.

To suggest a “responsible journalist” does not give a heads up about an upcoming article on their own Facebook page is hysterical. It’s a common practice on social media for journalists, particularly on twitter. What rock is Robinet living under? This was on my personal Facebook page, not on CKReview News Facebook page or on CKReview News, mind you I see no problem doing it there either. My Facebook page is not CKReview News and what I send to my friends on there is often a backdrop to events in the news or with my business in general. For Robinet to attempt to play editor for a day at CKReview News is one thing, but to think she can influence what I say on my personal Facebook page is ridiculous for it’s pomposity, but pure comedy nonetheless. I look forward to writing even more short notices that provide a heads up to people on my own page as to what to expect.

In her criticism of my “journalism” Robinet adds that CKReview News should have a letter to the editor. That isn’t a concern for any journalist. That is a publisher’s concern solely. I wear many hats here, from sales, HR, writing hard news, writing op-eds to web site design, planning for our podcasts of the local news in the studio and innocuous things like whether to have comments to articles or letters to the editor. Every article run at CKReview News has allowed comments for 2 weeks. We also have our contact information listed for those who wish to report news or submit an article. We run what others would have as a “letter to the editor”, as a volunteer guest columnist to empower people to write and express themselves. Getting a byline is better than a letter to the editor. Postmedia doesn’t allow for comments to their articles locally. How much effort does it take to ask why we don’t have a letter to the editor? Too much for Robinet. We do that one better.

We have also run editorials and opinion columns since our onset. The very purpose of CKReview News is to shed light on stories where people have no voice of their own. It is with great pride that I take interest in such stories and bring them the attention they deserve. That’s why I get asked to write stories where social injustice occurs and often, most of which I turn down. To those who claim I have ever said we don’t run editorials or opinion pieces, you couldn’t be more wrong. We have done so since day one and will continue to as well. Robinet complained on Facebook that my story didn’t contain all the facts. She complained I should have gone to the Hopkins family for their side of the story, but Hopkins and his family were not the other side of that story. The OPP were. The meeting was between the OPP and the families. Hopkins could have had legal representation at the meeting but didn’t. I am quite sure Hopkins lives with a terrible memory and guilt. The families and the over 1200 signees of that petition think that isn’t good enough. Robinet is free to contact Hopkins and his family to get their side about the suffering they have endured because of what happened. If she sees a story there, why isn’t it in print yet? Robinet added one fact that I did not have regarding the story in her condemnation, that Hopkins was native himself. What relevance could that make to the story? No-one was claiming it was a racial matter.

We have even published Karen Robinet’s own high opinion of herself. Against my better judgement, but at the insistence of Robinet, the article has no attribution. The author however is Karen Robinet herself writing about herself where she says people who buy a ticket to her play, by her purported Theatre company, are in for a hilarious evening. I never saw the show so I can’t say if it was funny. For Robinet to criticize us as illegitimate media and yet turn to us for local exposure is funny. Especially given that the article wasn’t objective and claims what will be funny to you. The same piece was also used, word for word in CTW, where no attribution was made to Robinet either. She clearly doesn’t want you to know she is writing positive things about herself. Robinet’s opinion of me was high as well when she thanked me for telling Dave Parkinson the difference between a news article and an op-ed at around the same time in 2013. Basic stuff, but in Robinet’s words “At any rate Greg, I do hope things go well for you. Journalism is a tough row to hoe – I’ve been let go before and it is definitely an undervalued and under-appreciated profession. But, in a day and age when everyone has a digital camera and the ability to create their own blog, it’s a crucial one. And I’m glad you pointed out to Dave that there is a world of difference between a column/editorial and an objective news story. It may not have done any good at this point, but maybe somewhere down the road he might think about it…” Robinet clearly puts emphasis that I recognize the difference between an objective news story and an opinion piece. Now it’s supposed to be news to me about that difference? Comical.

The largest insult to me was the declaration that CKReview News ran the story as a news story, when it was clearly bias in favour of the families and I made no bones about it… even adding a petition for one side. First off, CKReview News has never and never will run a “news” story seven days after the event. The news that no charges would be laid was more than a week old. Only someone who works at a weekly could think we were running hard news with that story. Hard news is very time sensitive, minutes count. Any story that is a week old is worthless. Two days is too long, never mind a week. Editorials and opinion columns however are not time sensitive. They just need to be current. I take personal offence at the suggestion we would ever run “news” one week after the event. The suggestion alone is comical. Who would do that? What news company is going to get any hits at all, by running news a week late? What a joke. Maybe this is why Karen Robinet hasn’t broken a single genuine news story in all the time CKReview News has existed? Opinions she has, but news? I welcome anyone to provide a link below to a single legitimate news story she has ever broken locally. Bear in mind it must be a news story and not an opinion piece. Nearly every time I have checked she is writing self-serving columns about local Theatre. My article was more than just an opinion piece, it was criticism of the explanation provided to 30 Chatham-Kent residents by the OPP about the death of a 16 year-old-girl and very serious injuries inflicted on a young man in what the OPP say was simply a bad set of circumstances. It held the feet of the OPP to the fire of public opinion with the support it received, as well as the high number of respondents to the petition. A petition that Robinet wrongly claimed had a “stated goal” of 1000 signees. Someone needs to introduce her to how Change.org works. When I signed the petition, the first to do so, the algorithm advises the next visitor there are 249 more signatures needed to get to 250. It’s a math equation, not a stated goal by CKReview News. At no time did CKReview News ever claim any stated number was a target and with over 1200 signatures now, it’s clear many people care enough to be heard. The response was overwhelming to me and to the families.

The suggestion for the families to record the meeting with the OPP was mine. That’s what makes the article a good piece of investigative journalism. I wanted to hear, word for word, what was said to the families and did in spite of the OPP trying to shut me out. APTN Investigates, the First Nations version of W5 contacted CKReview News about the story and liked it enough to want it on their program. I don’t know how often Robinet gets called by national television companies who specialize in investigative journalism, but my hunch is it isn’t often. APTN said they looked high and low for any other media reports on this and couldn’t find anything regarding the meeting with the families. I told them they were busy writing about Positivity Day, as it was September 15th. No other media showed up at the Brunner Centre, because none of them cared about the story enough. None of them have the audio of the meeting either, so they can’t place the name Brayden Hopkins on the lips of the OPP. We can and did. At no time has the OPP ever mentioned Hopkins by name publically, even to say who it was they were investigating. That is OPP procedure, but it also why the other media can’t talk about it. They have no independent confirmation that Hopkins was the driver, because they didn’t care enough about the story to do their own investigative work.

The accusations of a police cover-up in this case reaches to the media, excepting CKReview News, according to every First Nations person I have been in contact with including APTN Investigates in Manitoba. I have long desired an entire section of CKReview News dedicated to First Nation issues, with the only stumbling block being able to find someone to run it who is native themselves. My article didn’t even name Hopkins publically for the first time, that was being done by the families for months and no-one else in the media noticed or cared enough to spot a huge local story. Not bad for an amateur, a line that Melissa Ridgen from APTN Investigates laughed at when I finished explaining the redaction process of a Freedom of Information request. I do very well in the courts and always have, from representing myself at a five day trial for assault and winning, to my court reporting locally, which earned praise from Jim Blake, still at The Voice at the time, as one of the best things he had read in years. That was after he had hired and published a freelancer covering the same story. Robinet’s criticisms are clearly professional jealousy and nothing more.

Robinet’s Tragic Attempt At Online News, Mirrors Postmedia

Robinet tried to run an online news company once, the first one in the region she proudly told me, but she failed at it. canadathisweek.com was a compilation of news articles from other publications that linked to those news outlets. Robinet closed it down and admitted to me she couldn’t figure out how to make any money off it. Online news is the death knell for Postmedia, who has been rendered as a penny stock precisely because they can’t figure out how to make money off it either. Meanwhile companies like mine take away from their numbers. This clearly stings inside the walls of Postmedia. Blackburn never feels threatened like they do. This was not the biggest story we have run by a longshot, however Postmedia employees have harassed this office in three of our top six most popular stories. Our most read story was when a teacher died in John McGregor during the school day. Diana Martin was quick to scorn me that we should wait until the family was notified, when no such notification was ever sent. Much like how no-one from the OPP once contacted Alma Jacobs that Bailey Jacobs had died. Waiting for that notification would mean no story at all, which perhaps explains why there is no mention of Alma Jacobs in Postmedia anywhere. Maybe they are still waiting for the OPP to notify the Jacobs family?

Although Postmedia bought Sun Media, I still refer to it as “Fading Sun Media”. Largely it is failing because they live in a culture of fear. This wasn’t always the way. I worked in sales at the Sun at 333 King Street in Toronto for over a year back when Downing, Worthington and Hunt roamed the halls. They were fearless. I was 14. I also learned that journalism was a tough business that required thick skin. This was back in 1975, when people were more tough and aggressive at work and certainly were at the Sun. Pansies didn’t last. Today’s Postmedia spawns, of what were great men in this industry, are nothing short of an embarrassment to the brand. They are the Sears of news media. October 19 marks Postmedia’s next release of their financials and with that the nerves get touchy over there. Chatham Daily News has already stopped publishing on Mondays, so their daily is only out 4 out of 7 days a week. The rest of the week they are solely online like we are. It says here first that it won’t be long and they will be solely online, if they exist at all.

If you haven’t signed our petition you can do so here.

Postmedia’s Chair of the Audit Committee has been notified and I expect them to rule whether there are multiple violations of Postmedia’s Code of Conduct. I suggest this little stunt will end her career in journalism, even it is a part-time career. Robinet is so successful at journalism that she has had to keep another job with a seed company to pay the bills. For her sake I hope she can actually do that job, but there is no room for that kind of garbage from any journalist.

Related stories:

Local sports star kills 16-year-old girl and no charges are laid
Karen Robinet’s family and friends try and defend the indefensible

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