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Prince George Citizen did not breach journalistic standards, National NewsMedia Council finds

Diana Duchscherer filed a complaint about the story of the Top 10 most valuable properties in Prince George posted online Jan. 6.
Ranked No. 9 in Prince George on the BC Assessment most valuable property list, this home is located in a College Heights subdivision and valued at $2.076 million.

The National NewsMedia Council has found the Prince George Citizen did not breach journalistic standards after local resident Diana Duchscherer filed a complaint about the story of the Top 10 most valuable properties in Prince George posted online Jan. 6.

Duchscherer’s property was No. 9 with this description: “7010 Westmount Drive is valued at $2.076 million and the property description says the house valued at $1.751 million sits on 31,407 sq. ft. of land valued at $325,000. The house, built in 2008, has more than 8,300 sq. ft. on two floors and a basement.”

A photograph of the home from the B.C. Assessments website also appeared with the story.

Duchscherer sent an email to Citizen reporter Christine Dalgleish, the author of the story, which read: “Hi, please remove the article about most valuable houses. I did not give you f#%&!@* permission to print my house photo and address. I am so angry at the trash you put out. You will hear from my f#%&!@* lawyers and your sh%# editor. Diana.”

Duchscherer then made a formal complaint to the National NewsMedia Council, which is always an option for any member of the public who has a concern of what is reported in any of its member publications, of which the Citizen is one. It is also the Citizen's policy to report the result of all such complaints to the council from Citizen readers.

In her complaint to the council, Duchscherer wrote: "Breech of privacy. The Citizen did a top 10 article of the most valuable properties in Prince George and used a photo of my house, as well as listing my address and details about my house. This is a huge breech of privacy. I know that BC Assessment is public and searchable, but people don't know that unless they specificially look up my house. I want to file a complaint against PG Citizen Newspaper. This is not the first time they have slandered someone in our city, and I am SICK of it. The editor is extremely prejudiced, racist, and narrow-minded. Everything they publish is essentially click bait or rumours."

This is the response from managing director Brent Jolly of the National NewsMedia Council to the complainant:

“Dear Ms. Duchscherer,  Thank you for contacting the National NewsMedia Council with your concern about the publication of a January 6, 2023 news story in the Prince George Citizen that contains the real estate listing details of your home.  The National NewsMedia Council deals with unresolved complaints about journalistic standards and ethics in news and opinion articles published by our member news organizations. The NNC promotes widely accepted journalistic standards including accuracy, context and opportunity to respond to allegations and harmful statements. It is worth noting that, as part of our mandate, we do not compel news organizations to issue apologies. As is our process, we appreciate your efforts to contact the Citizen to raise your concerns. In terms of the substance of your complaint, it is important to acknowledge that, generally speaking, much of the information about housing sales is accessible publicly and real estate agents often play an important role in providing additional information and interviews as part of their marketing plans. We are also aware that journalists will review submissions from agents and undertake research from sources of publicly-available information. With regards to your concerns about the use of photographs, we would note that the photo is a street-level photograph. You should be aware that there is no expectation of privacy in public spaces. For these reasons, we find no grounds for a breach of journalistic standards in this case. We hope this information is helpful. Thank you for bringing your concern to the attention of the National NewsMedia Council. The editor of the Prince George Citizen has been copied on this note as a courtesy."

For more information about this type of process, visit the National NewsMedia Council website.

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