Monday, April 04, 2005

Publication Bans and the Internet

I've always had a problem with the concept of publication bans imposed on legal proceedings. Because they imply a hierarchy of access that is inappropriate and they're doomed to fail. We all know that some people in the courtroom are hearing the evidence, and deciding how to act because of it, but those who depend on the media for information are denied that same right. It's an articifical distinction that isn't appropriate.

So the decision to ban publication of what's been happening at the Gomery inquiry into the sponsorship scandal within the Liberal party is wrong, in my view. And in today's world, with the Internet and blogs like this one, etc., it didn't take long for the sheer folly of that ban to become evident.

On Friday, after the latest testimony in Montreal, the buzz started in Ottawa that what was being said was so sensational that we might see a snap federal election because of it. That's pretty sensational, but what made it even sexier (in theory, at least) was the fact that no one could actually talk about what was really said.

Enter the bloggers. Almost immediately, a U.S.-based blog started publishing the details and it didn't take long for a lot of people to start reading about it, throwing the whole question about the relevancy of the original ban into question, as this story in the Globe and Mail points out.

As a confirmed news junkie, I wanted to know what that testimony was and it didn't take me long to find out, or at least to find some comments about it. However, I'm mindful of the ban on coverage, so I hesitate to provide a direct link to what I've found. But I will tell you that I went to Feedster, typed in Gomery Ban in the search button and clicked on the first result. I found what I was looking for right away. You might want to do the same.

But the end result is interesting, because while the testimony does seem sensational, it's posted on a blog that's obviously not a fan of the Liberal party, so you have to ask yourself whether the reports are as accurate as they should be. But until Canadian journalists are allowed to write about what happened, we won't really know whether what we're hearing now is accurate or not.

But it sure is interesting.

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