Oppose Sue Montgomery's suspension by The Gazette

dragonfly, Lundi, Mars 31, 2003 - 22:06

The Gazette last week suspended outspoken columnist Sue Montgomery for two weeks on a flimsy excuse that she did not get a quote from an agency that deals in Filipino domestic workers. They told her that any other infraction would get her fired. Protest Sue's suspension to The Gazette!

The Gazette last week suspended outspoken columnist Sue Montgomery for two weeks on a flimsy excuse that she did not get a quote from an agency that deals in Filipino domestic workers. (See link to article below). They told her that any other infraction would get her fired.

Protest Sue's suspension to The Gazette-- suspend your Gazette subscription until she is re-instated; please forward this information to your network, and encourage your friends to also protest her suspension.

We feel that Sue Montgomery was suspended for many reasons - but NOT because she didn't try extra hard to get the quote. Montgomery's supposedly offending article was reviewed by her copy editor and then run, and ironically is STILL on the Gazette web site ttp://
13 days later.

As you know, The Gazette has been taken over by a right wing ownership and management. Former Editor in Chief Michael Goldbloom quite because of the Asper owners. They have censored other columnists before - namely Lyle Stewart and his anti corporate globalization columns. Lyle, a part time columnist resigned rather than waste his time writing columns that were never run because of their content.

With Sue, The Gazette is more sinister. She has been a Gazette employee since the 1980s. Now they seem to be trying to censor her by threatening her career.

This has outraged not only the Gazette readers who are aware why her columns are not appearing, but also Gazette and other journalist colleagues who this weekend held a benefit party for her. They also saw her suspension as a
warning to them. Many are now submitting their stories with the preface to their editors, "Please have our copy 'lawyered'" - meaning before you run the story, have a lawyer review it.

Here is probably why Sue is being picked-on by The Gazette:
In here columns, she opposed the right wing Aspers who own the CanWest media chain; criticized Concordia University's crack-down on free speech after they went after the pro-Palestinian demonstrators who ruined Benjamin Netanyahu's entrance; revealed the Gazette Xmas fund was being skimmed off the top; recently praised the anti-war protesters and wrote against war(contrary to The Gazette's pro-war editorials). Did The Gazette get wind of her intentions to expose the Diva agency's neo-slavery add on The Gazette's auction web site auctioning off three Filipino domestic workers, and pre-emptively suspend her?

Montgomery was told by The Gazette if she didn't oppose this suspension through her union, it would only be for one week. Since she grieved it - The Gazette suspended her for two weeks without pay.

* Publicize Sue's suspension and oppose it.
* Suspend your subscription (if you haven't cancelled it already!) until Sue is re-instated or for two weeks, and tell The Gazette why you are suspending your sub. Make sure your subscription is stopped - and not donated to a charity.
* Write letters to the Gazette opposing their actions against Sue:
250 St. Antoine St. W, Montreal, QC H2Y 3R7 or email: They WILL be noticed - they probably won't be published.. C.C. your letters to other media in Montreal, to your community, to Sue and to Publisher Larry Smith who is concerned about the image of The Gazette. You might want to remind Mr. Smith that The Gazette's campaign to increase francophone subscribers will be sabotaged by their censoring of Sue Montgomery and their pro-war stance -
positions the liberal francophone community would oppose The Gazette on.
* Support the good causes Sue writes about. Donate your saved Gazette subscription costs and some time to them.

Link to Sue's article.

Lun, 2003-03-31 22:31

We need the full Internet address of the article?

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Mar, 2003-04-01 03:50

The article is here:

It won't be there forever. Articles expire from fairly fast.

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contact The Gazette
Lun, 2003-03-31 22:36

You can contact The Gazette directly with these phone numbers and email.


The Gazette
250 St. Antoine St. W.
Montreal, Quebec
H2Y 3R7

Editor in Chief

Peter Stockland

Deputy Editor
Raymond Brassard

Managing Editor
Jack Romanelli

Editorial Page Editor
Brian Kappler

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Letters to Jack
Mar, 2003-04-01 19:34

I was in correspondence with the Managing editor of the Gazette today regarding this case. Thought it would be nice to share our letters. You can reach Jack at: I am sure he'd love to hear from you.

Dear Gazette,

I am writing to express my sincere dissapointment in the suspension of Sue Montgomery. I do not often clip articles out of the Gazette but had in fact retained the article which led to her suspension. As a media practicioner and as a media studies student, I had recognized it as a good information piece on an important topic. While it would be nice to hear what the agency had to say about the event in question, the fact that a quote from them is missing does not make this a bad piece of journalism. It is about time that editors got off their high horse of supposed 'objectivity' and started recognising journalism that goes beyond the transcription of press releases and into the realm of investigative journalism and informed opinion.

Andrea L.

Ms. L,:
As a matter of fact, giving the other side an opportunity to respond to accusations is a fundamental principle of journalism and does exactly what you claim you want, which is to go beyond transcription of press releases, which are, of course, one sided.
Objectivity is not a high horse, it is a basic tenet. Without it, we have no credibility. It is our duty to report both sides of a story.

Jack Romanelli
Managing Editor
Montreal Gazette

Dear Jack,

I thank you for your prompt response. I do agree that it is important to show all possible sides of the story, yet if I remember correctly, Sue's article does mention that she tried to reach the employers of the Nanny. She perhaps did not reach the Agency, which, I agree, may have added to the story. Yet, I must question why you did not rectify this by getting a *reporter* not a *columnist* to write an article about the agency. Also, I must question whether the Gazette is really trying to protect their 'credibility' with regards to their standards of journalism or, if, in fact, you are simply trying to push out a columnist who writes articles that are critical of the positions held by the Gazette's editors and owner. Or, is the Gazette afraid of losing advertising revenue from your auction website where Filipina nanny's are for sale?

When I say that the Gazette needs to get off of its 'objectivity' high horse, I am saying that objectivity does not exist. I respect Sue because she is admitting this. She is a columnist who does not claim that she does not have a position. Other forms of journalism hide the fact that it is indeed not possible to be objective, that every writer comes to the material with their experiences and points of view. NO journalistic training can eliminate this. I also respect papers such as Le Devoir that actually *sign* their editorials, admitting that they come from a person instead of positioning them as the voice of authority from nowhere.

Finally, if nothing else, you must admit that it is *unacceptible* to have added a week to Sue's suspension because she went to the union with this. That is manipulating and fundamentally against the fairness that you propose to be for.

Andrea L.

Dear Andrea,
Unfortunatelly, you have the "facts" only from one side. Firstly, Ms. Montgomery is a columnist only once a week, that being Mondays. The rest of the time she is a featured reporter, expected to follow the same rules of reporting as anyone else. Ms. Montgomery is well aware of this and I have the documentation to prove it.
Secondly, we have covered the issue of Filipino nannies before and will continue to do so. We expect, however, for the coverage to be balanced, whatever position the reporter may have. Since the agency came under attack in the story, how can we accept not having their response, or even a no comment, in the story.
In terms of manipulating the union, again you have only one side. However, this I will not respond to since the details of what led to the length of suspension and Sue's actions are, I believe, a private matter. And finally, not signing editorials is common practice in English Canada and in the U.S. because editorials represent the paper's stance and not that of an individual.

Jack Romanelli
Managing Editor
Montreal Gazette

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As if The Gazette has any credibility as a newspaper...
Mer, 2003-04-02 21:26

Check it out at:

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Letters to the Gazette that will never be printed...
Mer, 2003-04-02 09:36

Re: “Anti-war policy firm despite polls: Graham,” The Gazette, March 30, 2003

There is apparently a disconcerting shift happening in the media machine’s coverage of this war. American imperialism may not have infiltrated the minds of every Canadian, but the media appear to be shifting their coverage to counter what could potentially be a threat to their livelihood--American ire. Is your stirring of the pot indicative of Asper putting the pressure on to editorially and journalistically support the American invasion of Iraq, or is it good old-fashioned economics?

This was to be my question today, but now I have one that hits much closer to home: where has Sue Montgomery disappeared to...and why? This is one story that I would like to see covered in the Gazette. Again, is Sue’s suspension indicative of Asper putting the pressure on to editorially and journalistically support the American invasion of Iraq, or is it good old-fashioned economics?


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sue montgomery and the gazette
Lun, 2003-04-07 10:37

Reinstate Sue Montgomery

to whoever wields edititorial and image management power,

take a step up for once and re-instate sue montgomery. her safe suspension reeks of the dubious and nefarious policing of a dissenting voice, a project which you are actively undertaking.

i'm sure there's more to this than meets the eye, especially with regard to the information i've been allowed to access. yet, the paper's move to supress sue's contribution and the details of her hiatus is ridiculous.

the shreds of dignity remaining in the journalistic endeavours you as a paper support and claim are worth preserving find a location in the polemic sue offers - namely, an oppositional voice that counters the paper's policy line.

maybe the globe's margaret wente tickles your fancy with her 'counterpoint' instead? how safe of you.

you are not gatekeepers; you all know how to properly regulate your content to toe the party line in publishing yourselves. did sue finally refuse to negotiate the codes you set out?

my skepticism and suspicion of the gazette as a site of pulp fiction has increased, spiralling beyond the simple news-hole function your paper serves for ads and commodity products. if you're going to pretend and play at 'giving informed opinions', don't assume we're total idiots beacuse sue montgomery doesn't, and perhaps that's the problem.

so, chuckle at my comments, shake your head, be dismissive, or claim, 'i'd like to, but - ." i have little faith in the supposed public discourse you construct and offer and can't wait for my letter to be buried.

that's a challenge, in case you missed it.

neil balan


Ms. Montgomery was suspended for failing to follow a fundamental principle of journalism, getting both sides of a story. That's all there is to it despite whatever misinformation you have been given. I will issue my own challenge to you. If you have any information to prove the contrary, write back and share it. What you have, sir, are allegations and conjecture. The simple fact is we expect our reporters to cover both sides of a story, something that I'm certain as a reader you also expect.

Jack Romanelli
Managing Editor
Montreal Gazette



You concisely addressed a few very important things that I want to comment on. These are symptomatic remarks, speaking to problematic little snippets that have floated to the surface through the subtext of your letter.

First, why ‘sir’? I have a name and it’s Neil. I wonder if it is easier for you to generalize me as a neatly packaged ‘reader’ or ‘subscriber’ in the demographic arc your paper seeks to trace? Is this how you deal with opinionated responses, distancing them with trivial social honorifics that reek of a vague and safe neutrality while packing an authoritative punch based in proximity that reinscribes a gap between you and I, the reader and the expert editor? Your expertise is the authority granted via your title, the managing editor, the permissive arranger. Clearly, an opinion is a challenge to you. Your ‘sir’ reminds me of legalese and political exchanges that start with, ‘My learned friend.” Nice touch.

Second, if I possess conjecture and allegations permit me an attempt to address balance in this piece, the thing that you claim is lacking in the Sue Montgomery story in question. The Filipina nanny story is reporting, yet I would suggest and question whether it represents an attempt to quiet Sue Montgomery, to suppress and close down her weekly opinion piece. How convenient: suspending a writer critical of the war via an industrial impropriety in another story. That’s the issue. Call it conjecture, or my opinion.

The balance, ‘getting both sides of a story’, sounds like attempts at imaginary objectivity, at satisfying what you call a ‘fundamental principle in journalism’. I can’t provide any ‘information’ otherwise because I am not present in Sue Montgomery head, in her interpretation of the events, nor with her in her writing. Her story is invalid because it doesn’t fit the template. Now, I wonder, rhetorically and aloud, what template the Gazette provides: facts, truth, the real story? What are these things based on, beyond what value your authority grants the sources you and your writing staff find? Sheer number of sides? Covering both sides of a story and balance is essentially an issue of accountability in your assessment, satisfying the requirements of good journalistic practice as instituted containment.

The Gazette is no radical forum. It offers interest stories about marginalized Filipina nannies and commentary on the war. We both know it’s a fairly conventional daily. Yet, hiding behind the veil of proper practice is sadly expectant and it misses the possibility your forum, even it its more conservative approach, publicly offers. In Sue Montgomery’s case, I wonder if her suspension is a response to the emotive piece she wrote on the 24th of March? She was left unchecked to write what she felt. In her story piece, the terms of scrutiny shifted to conventions. Montgomery’s reporter-not-columnist-status changed the terms of her actions. She was a producer, affiliated with you.

If ‘information proving the contrary’ is just that – information to be harnessed and properly administered in the correct slot or location in a piece – doesn’t the balanced form then argue and opinionate for the paper itself first as a legitimate and trusted source? If so, does the information then even matter so long as it fits the form prescribed to become ‘the trusted source’? Are your balanced stories then merely disposable chunks of information for your uninformed readers, and if so, what aims are you achieving? I suggest the slant of your articles as judged by you and your peers as being acceptable and correct very much has something to do with things beyond the mere movement of information. ‘Conjecture and allegations’ are not entirely negative things: our reliance on legality, accountability, and capital gains have coded them this way. That it is ‘just conjecture’ builds on the belief then that facts are good only if they are provisional and applicable, which is to say that in the end, ‘both sides of the story’ is really a proper frame doing very little to invite and generate any deliberation at all.

In your version of procedure, ethics as a journalistic project merely becomes a matter of formal aesthetics. Polemic positions are tricky things these days; no grand answer and no balanced story is going to guarantee anything but empty formal gestures and a lackadaisical feeling of normative, safe event framing without any commentary is hopeless. While I commend your belief in perhaps attempting to allow for some sort of negotiation and contestation with ‘facts’ presented, I am a bit cynical about whether or not that’s the case. Either way, Sue Montgomery’s Filipina piece didn’t meet the procedural specs administered by the rule of journalism. Yet, I suggest her politics elsewhere is what was targeted by the paper, its editors, and its backers. I suspect you will dismiss this as conspiratorial and overdetermined, but this is the stuff pooling at the surface and it smells of censorship, not improper procedure.

Third, suspending writers who step out of line, who don’t toe the ‘this is how we do things around here’ line is dangerous. It is limiting and scary, regardless, and especially when it’s done in a displaced way. It’s the moment when the political issues at stake become matters of forms to be filled with concepts that you choose. That’s what your decision represents. It’s not a matter of facts but of a silencing. You have to deal with that, as managing editor, and as someone entwined in an organizational culture and an interpretive community that controls your behaviour with unsaid and deeply embedded rules. That you had to resort to a heavy handed suspension suggests your system failed, that the natural common-sense things you and I take for granted are less neutral and more controlling, little markers of surveillance. How did Sue Montgomery’s Filipina piece even reach publication? Where was the policing before production?

Ultimately, I guess your mandate is safety. Call it an organizational compromise: protect yourself and distance yourself from the irresponsible. The thing is that Sue Montgomery was accountable: she signed her name and provided that ability for allowing a response. Instead, the response she received was suspension. In her, dissent is clearly not tolerable, now an alien thing. The government in Canada is feeling the heat resulting from dissent, Canadians in the U.S. are feeling it, and Sue Montgomery is feeling it also. I’m connecting these things because they are part of the same problem: the lack of sufficient facts in the Filipina story is not a matter of facts at all, but is more diversionary subterfuge. You are playing the same game of ‘with us or against us”, politically, with your writers, and your readers who constitute your paper. Sadly, the possibility of expecting ‘both sides’ is far gone, replaced by the expectation of opinions veiled as procedure and controls construed as ethics.

Neil Balan

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