Saturday, March 3, 2018

The red tape behind the Bruce McArthur tapes

What began as a seemingly simple request for an audio recording of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur’s 2003 court appearances become a convoluted and frustrating odyssey for the Star's legal affairs reporter Jacques Gallant.

The Star's Kenyon Wallace writes anbout it. Excerpt:
"But instead of providing the recordings of the 2003 McArthur proceedings on CD, the court reporters’ office gave him two cassette tapes. Gallant would need a Sony BM-246, a special tape recorder used in court, to listen to them.
“'It’s like this massive machine straight out of the ’80s. We certainly did not have one of those at the Star and I wasn’t really sure where we’d get one,' Gallant said.
"Trying another approach, Gallant’s editor, Matt Carter, sent out a mass email to Star staff asking: 'Does anyone in the newsroom have a standard, 1980s-style cassette player on hand? (Or in their car?)'
“'Colleagues started coming forward with cassette players caked in dust that had literally been sitting on their desks for years,' said Gallant.
"After about half an hour, a working cassette player was found. However, Gallant said the voices on the recordings sounded like chipmunks and were unintelligible.
"By then it was 6 p.m., just three hours from deadline and editors were keen to get the story if there was compelling material on the recordings.
Free audio software found on the internet proved to be the ticket. It slowed the audio on the tapes so Gallant could understand what was said in court."
(The Ontario court system is not reporter friendly. It's a wonder that media put up with it. They should be making a fuss.--ED)
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