Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
John Laforet

GET UPDATES FROM John Laforet
 

Forget Magnotta: Three Canadian Newsmakers Worth Remembering

Posted: 12/24/2012 12:51 pm

The idea that accused murderer Luka Magnotta would be selected as Canada's Newsmaker of the Year paints a bleak picture about how the Canadian Press saw our country in 2012.

The sensationalizing of the details of grisly crimes, whether mass shootings in the U.S. or bizarre cases like Magnotta's, only serves to immortalize those accused of committing such heinous acts, and denies their victims the dignity they deserve. It also takes precious media resources away from covering other news, burying a lot of compelling stories along the way.

This idea that the public needs to or wants to know the blow by blow of how a heinous crime was committed, by whom and why, blurs the line between news and infotainment.

Ultimately the decision of what news becomes readily available to Canadians is in the hands of editors and journalists across our country, and the backlash that the Canadian Press is receiving for their selection of Magnotta is important, because it shows Canadians are standing up and saying we want better than that.

As a country, we become a better place when our news reflects some of the more weighty or meaningful contributions individual Canadians are making to create a better country for all of us.

There are a number of other worthy Canadian newsmakers who better deserve the title over Magnotta. Below I summarize three Canadians whose contributions to Canadian life are worthy of notice as we reflect on 2012.

Mark Carney:

Mark Carney has received a lot of positive media attention as head of the Bank of Canada, in addition to his status as a sought after potential candidate to salvage the Liberal Party of Canada. He is also the newly selected Governor of the Bank of England.

Carney is credited with steering Canada's economy through the stubborn global recession that we find ourselves in. He would have raised the quality of the economic debate in the House of Commons and provided Canadians with an experienced alternative to the current government in 2015 had he decided to run for the Liberals. Instead, he becomes the first 'foreigner' to lead the Bank of England, which in itself is no small feat, and something all Canadians should be proud of.

Ashley Smith:

Although Ashley Smith died tragically in 2007, her name continues to repeatedly be in the news as coverage of the inquest into her death exposes more troubling information about how Canada's justice system fails to address the mental health issues of inmates in a dignified manner. Smith's death and the ongoing inquest that has followed, present the opportunity for Canadians to create a better, fairer justice system for all Canadians.

She may not be a newsmaker herself, but her story certainly is, and it is difficult one that Canadians need to hear if we are to improve our justice system for everyone.

Hélène Campbell:

The person I would personally select as Newsmaker of the Year would be double lung transplant recipient Hélène Campbell who at 20 was able to put a face on a very worthy, but difficult to discuss cause. Hélène's social media efforts chronicled her own journey and encouraged Ontarians to register their consent to donate their organs in the event of their own death.

By humanizing this very important cause, with the assistance from star power like Justin Bieber, Don Cherry and Ellen DeGeneres, Campbell has had a hand in increasing organ donation consent registrations significantly. Undoubtedly, more Canadians will survive serious illnesses because Campbell gave a voice to a critical cause, while waiting for a transplant that would allow hers to continue.

No one can control what events will shape our world in any given year, but collectively we can choose what stories we allow to shape our memory of that year. Magnotta is the wrong way to remember 2012, especially when there are so many alternative choices that will allow Canadians to reflect positively on the past as we seek to shape the present and the future.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Photos from the family of Jun Lin, the victim of Luka Magnotta were given to media Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Montreal. Preliminary hearing is underway for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Luka Rocco Magnotta is shown in an artist's sketch in a Montreal court on Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Magnotta has collapsed in court during his preliminary hearing.The notorious suspect in a killing and dismemberment case had been listening to evidence against him, whose contents are subject to a publication ban.

  • Daran Lin, father of murder victim Jun Lin, leaves the courthouse in Montreal on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Preliminary hearing is set to start for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Luka Rocco Magnotta is seen in an artist's sketch in a Montreal court on Monday, March 11, 2013. A preliminary hearing is set to start for Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.Magnotta's lawyers want the public and media barred from attending the hearing, which is to determine if there is enough evidence for a trial.

  • Daran Lin, father of murder victim Jun Lin, leaves court with his translator Daran Lin in Montreal on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Preliminary hearing is set to start for Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man charged in connection with the infamous body-parts case that made international headlines.

  • Alleged killer Luka Rocco Magnotta is seen in court on a artist drawing Wednesday, January 9, 2013 in Montreal. Magnotta is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying and dismemberment of Chinese engineering student Jun Lin.

  • Luka Rocco Magnotta is taken by police from a Canadian military plane to a waiting van on Monday, June 18, 2012 in Mirabel, Quebec. Magnotta, the lone suspect in a brutal Montreal killing that made headlines around the world, is back home to face justice on Canadian soil. (Montreal Police)

  • Magnotta lands in Canada (Montreal Police)

  • Magnotta lands in Canada (Montreal Police)

  • Mug shot of Luka Rocco Magnotta, released by Montreal Police on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Magnotta told a judge Tuesday he will not fight his extradition from Germany to Canada, Berlin police say. Magnotta is wanted in Canada on several charges, including first-degree murder, in connection with the killing and dismemberment of Chinese national Jun Lin. (AP Photo/Montreal Police Service via The Canadian Press)

  • Vancouver Police Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke speaks during a news conference after a human hand was delivered to a school and a human foot to another in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday June 5, 2012. Montreal police later confirmed the packages are connected to the dismembered body of a Chinese student found in Montreal last week and the international manhunt for his killer. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

  • A man walks his dog past St. George's School where a human foot was delivered to the school earlier in the day in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday June 5, 2012. A human hand was also delivered to another Vancouver school Tuesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

  • A television cameraman films parents and students at False Creek Elementary School after a human hand was delivered to the school earlier in the day in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday June 5, 2012. A human foot was also delivered to another Vancouver school Tuesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

  • A police car leaves the central police detention facility of Berlin supposedly carrying Luka Rocco Magnotta to a Berlin court Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Luka Magnotta, 29, a Canadian porn actor suspected of murdering and dismembering a Chinese was arrested on Monday at an Internet cafe. A cafe employee recognized Magnotta from a newspaper photo and flagged down a police car. (AP Photo/dapd/ Timur Emek)

  • The internet cafe where Luka Rocco Magnottahe was recognized in the district of Neukoelln in Berlin, Germany, Monday, June 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

  • This image taken from CCTV obtained by Associated Press video shows Luka Rocco Magnotta entering the Internet cafe in the district of Neukoelln in Berlin, Germany, Monday, June 4, 2012, where Kadir Anlayisli, who works in the cafe recognized him. "I looked at him and thought I knew him from somewhere, because I read newspapers every day," Anlayisli said. (AP Photo/AP Video)

  • This image taken from CCTV obtained by Associated Press video shows Kadir Anlayisli, a cafe worker waiting for police in the doorway of the Internet cafe in the district of Neukoelln in Berlin, Germany, Monday, June 4, 2012, where Luka Rocco Magnotta was arrested. (AP Photo/AP Video)

  • This image taken from CCTV obtained by Associated Press video shows police entering the Internet cafe shortly after. (AP Photo/AP Video)

  • This image taken from CCTV obtained by Associated Press video shows Luka Rocco Magnotta, 2nd left, being removed by police from the Internet cafe. (AP Photo/AP Video)

  • Kadir Anlayisli stands next to the computer where he recognized Luka Rocco Magnotta. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

  • The Interpol alert, which shows various photos and a discription of Luka Rocco Magnotta. (AP Photo/Interpol/dapd)

  • This surveillance image provided by Interpol shows Luka Rocco Magnotta at a security checkpoint. (AP Photo/Interpol)

  • In a Wednesday, May 30, 2012 photo, janitor Eric Schoer looks at a blood-stained fridge at an apartment rented by suspect Luka Rocco Magnotta, where police believe a man was murdered and dismembered, in Montreal. (The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)

  • A police officer removes a package containg a human foot from the Conservative Party headquarters in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 29, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

  • The following is a series of photos and self-portraits posted by Magnota on various websites (Facebook)

  • (Facebook)

  • (Facebook)

  • (Facebook)

  • (Facebook)

  • (Facebook)

  • (Facebook)

  • (Facebook)

  • (Facebook)

  • (http://luka-magnotta.com)

  • (http://luka-magnotta.com)

  • (http://luka-magnotta.com)

  • (http://luka-magnotta.com)

  • (http://luka-magnotta.com)

  • (http://luka-magnotta.com)

  • (http://luka-magnotta.com)

  • (http://luka-magnotta.com)

  • (http://luka-magnotta.com)

 

Follow John Laforet on Twitter: www.twitter.com/laforet

FOLLOW CANADA POLITICS