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An RCMP officer’s libel lawsuit against CBC is just one of the unfortunate consequences that come with running a breaking story.

Const. Kwesi Millington, the officer whose Taser use led to Robert Dziekanski’s death, claims CBC “defamed him” and caused him “serious embarrassment and distress” with its coverage of the event, according to a story by The Canadian Press.

The possibility of lawsuits when news breaks is old hat for media organizations. In Dziekanski’s death, which was inarguably one of the biggest stories of 2007, CBC had no option but to cover the story. Out of the story and subsequent public inquiry have come serious questions about use of force by police officers and the safety hazards of Taser use.

It’s Millington’s right to sue, but sticking media for libel in this case is redundant; no journalist worth a damn in Canada would have ignored that story. The irony is Millington suing the public broadcaster which has a mandate to jump on stories of this nature. If CBC didn’t run with the story, they wouldn’t be doing the job we pay them to do.

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About the author

Joyce Yip was the Deputy Production Editor for the Summer 2010 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

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