British investigative journalist speaks at Ryerson, praises newspapers

Brian Deer spoke to a packed house today about his investigation and his love of newspapers (Photo from briandeer.com)

Brian Deer spoke at Ryerson in front of a group of journalism students, writers and doctors today and had nothing but praise for the medium of the newspaper.

Deer is the journalist who investigated a report by Andrew Wakefield that linked autism to a vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). He later found that the report was fraudulent and that Wakefield was paid to produce it by a lawyer who aimed to sue drug companies.

Deer went over the timeline of his investigation from the initial report Wakefield published  in 1998, to Deer’s exposure of the report as false in 2005, to the report’s retraction in February of this year.

When Deer published his findings in The Sunday Times he went on to do a TV program about the MMR vaccine scare. He said he found the experience fun but still remains “a newspaper guy.”

“The magic is in TV, but the romance for me will always be in newspapers,” Deer said.

Deer went over the greatest moments of his life, all of which related to newspapers.

One of these moments occurred when Wakefield attempted to sue Wakefield, The Sunday Times and Channel 4 for aggravated libel.

Wakefield attempted to have the trial stayed but thanks to the support of Deer’s colleagues at the Times and Channel 4, Mr. Justice Eady, the judge presiding over the case, ordered Wakefield to continue with the suit or drop the case.

Wakefield’s other favourite moments included winning a British Press award and having his name in a New York Times editorial.

Deer said his groundbreaking investigation started as a routine newspaper assignment.

Click here for a few clips from Deer’s lecture

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