Two newspaper stories detailing drug allegations against Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his councillor brother Doug Ford will come under scrutiny at Ontario Press Council hearings today.
The council is looking into complaints about a Toronto Star story published May 17 that alleged Rob Ford was videotaped smoking crack cocaine, and another against a Globe and Mail story published a week later about allegations that Doug Ford dealt drugs in his youth.
Two complaints made to the press council will stand in for the dozens filed against the newspapers over coverage of the Fords.
At issue, the council says, is whether the newspapers "engaged in irresponsible, unethical investigative reporting." The council will also address issues such as whether the stories are in the public interest and whether or not the Fords were given ample time to respond to allegations in the stories.
The council has no legal authority and does not rule on whether or not the reports are true, only whether they were reported responsibly.
The Fords were invited to file complaints with the press council so they could participate in Monday’s hearings, but had not done so by Friday. It’s not known whether the Fords will attend Monday’s public hearings as spectators.
In a story published on Monday, Toronto Star editor Michael Cooke said he welcomes the chance to defend the newspaper's reporting on Rob Ford.
"Any time we have an opportunity to talk about and debate journalism, we welcome it," he said. "Accuracy and fairness is our bread and butter."
The hearings will be held at Ryerson University. The complaint about the Star story will be heard at 10 a.m. ET. The complaint regarding the Globe and Mail will be heard at 1 p.m. ET
The press council decisions will be made public and posted on its website later this month. The council's full ruling will also be published in both newspapers.
The Fords have maintained they have been unfairly targeted by the media, particularly the Toronto Star.
The brothers' ongoing feud with the Star began long before the disputed story was published.
With files from The Canadian Press