9. Decision Point

Hudes, MacDonald and Hood were on deadline and had to make the decision of whether to include information from the Facebook page in the National Post’s June 4 coverage of the shooting.

Hudes was working late into the night and it was still unconfirmed whether the Facebook page belonged to the same Justin Bourque whom police identified as the shooter. Hudes told editors that based on the photos and the content of the Facebook posts, the page appeared to belong to the same Justin Bourque. If that turned out to be the case, the page could provide insight into the shooter’s motivations and his thoughts on his last day before carrying out the shooting, information that Hudes believed to be in the public interest. [1]

On the other hand, social media verification requires more than a matching name and photos. Anyone can create a fake Facebook profile, so this page would need to be confirmed to belong to Justin Bourque by those who know him and the National Post didn’t have that confirmation. If they decided to publish the story with this information, they ran the risk misidentifying the shooter and potentially implicating an innocent person.

Watch: Sammy Hudes talks about his discussion with National Post editors about the Facebook page circulating online following the Moncton shooting.

[1] Source for all information on this page: Sammy Hudes interview by Casimir Boivin, Avneet Dhillon, David Greenberg, and Kayla Rosen, November 14, 2016.

Next: 10. Epilogue