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article imageGagged No Longer: Controversial Journalist Breaks Silence Special

By Jason Li     Oct 16, 2009 in World
Jan Wong has finally spoken out now that her gag order has expired. The former Globe and Mail Beijing Correspondent was slammed after an op-ed she wrote in 2006 linked school shootings to language policy in Quebec. She was fired and gagged by the Globe.
No one expected hard-nosed journalist Jan Wong to ask for Kleenex to dry her tears when she attended an interview session at the University of Toronto, Scarborough.
The journalist, known for her brutally honest portrayals of celebrities in her Lunch With Jan Wong columns for The Globe and Mail, was there to share her journalism experience with students and promote her book, Beijing Confidential.
Oct 6, 2009 was also the first time she spoke publicly about being gagged by the paper.
In 2006, she wrote an article for the Globe suggesting Quebec’s concern with racial purity led racially-alienated teenagers to shoot their schoolmates. Bill 101 is a law in Quebec that states French is the province's only official language.
The piece sparked a furore and the House of Commons demanded an apology. Wong maintained her position, even as death threats, excrement and her book sawed in half turned up in the mail. Not new to controversy, she had expected some backlash.
“My job is to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable,” she said twice in the session.
But what Wong did not anticipate was her boss Edward Greenspon’s editorial conceding she “had gone beyond her mandate as a reporter.” Greenspon, who had read and cleared Wong’s article for publication, was now publicly repudiating her.
The betrayal pushed her over the edge and she slipped into a clinical depression.
“I was so broken-hearted when I saw that,” she sighed, struggling to keep her emotions in check, collecting short breaths of air to hold back tears. She called Greenspon’s assertion “a piece of crap, if you want my mild opinion.”
Wong also said the Globe tried to silence her, asking her to sign an indefinite gag order in exchange for money. She refused, but relented to one with a time cap, which just expired. This means she can now speak publicly about the issue.
She asked for tissue when students queried if she wants her children to become journalists. “I don’t think so,” Wong whispered, tears ostensibly welling up. “Because it’s so hard.”
“They paid such a price, my kids,” she confided. “My sons couldn’t say anything to me that wasn’t nice, because I would start to cry. I think all teenagers should have the chance to call their parents idiots. I didn’t want them to go through this.”
Journalism student Cortney Cook was inspired. “I really enjoyed the personal view we got from her,” she said. “I really liked that she didn’t take crap from anyone.”
The moderator of the event, Drew Dudley agrees: “The Leadership Development Program was just thrilled to be able to provide a forum for her to share her experiences and the lessons she drew from them.”
“The questions from the students were very thoughtful,” said Wong after. “The tears, that surprised me. I'm still not fully recovered, but almost.”
Wong is currently working on a new book, Out of the Blue, which is about her depression and what happened at the Globe.
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