Sunday, June 13, 2010

Noah Kirkman freed from Oregon foster care

Noah Kirkman, the 12-year-old Canadian boy trapped in Oregon foster care for nearly two years, is back with his family in Canada – which is exactly where he wants to be.

OK, I don't actually know for a fact that the last part of the previous sentence, about where he wants to be, is true. Rather, I'm relying on the Kirkman family's lawyer, who said this when explaining to the Calgary Herald why Noah was allowed to go home two weeks earlier than expected. The lawyer said:

There was a sense during the trial that Noah was being pressured by the family with whom he was staying (in foster care). My belief is that when social services had the opportunity to find out Noah really wanted to be home, the extra time was unnecessary.

But my version, in which I simply treat an assertion by the side I favor as fact, is no different from the way the Portland Oregonian
led its story on the hearing where the judge first decided Noah could go home. The Oregonian wrote that:

An Oregon judge Friday ordered a 12-year-old boy sent back to Canada, his home country, even though the boy doesn't want to go.

Only farther down in the story is it mentioned that this simply was a claim from the judge and a psychologist.

In fact, neither I nor the Oregonian reporter actually knows what Noah Kirkman wanted then or wants now. That's why it's journalism 101 that any such claim in a news story is supposed to be attributed. And it's why Oregonian coverage of this case deserves an extra measure of skepticism.