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Windsor, Ont., police say media pressure led to releasing a name in 1971 killing of 6-year-old Ljubica Topic



WARNING: This article contains details of sexual assault and may affect those who have experienced​ ​​​it or know someone affected by it. 

Windsor, Ont., police say a new chief and pressure from local media were factors in finally releasing the name of the man they say killed Ljubica Topic after she was abducted over 50 years ago.

Topic was six years old when she was playing outside her family’s home on Drouillard Road on May 14, 1971, and a stranger lured her with a promise of money. She was later found dead — abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered — near an alley a kilometre away from her home.

Police said in 2015 that they’d discovered new DNA evidence — two of Ljubica’s teeth and one adult tooth — close to where her body had been discovered. In December 2019, investigators said they’d found the man responsible, but didn’t say who it was.

Ljubica Topic was six years old when she was abducted from outside her home in Windsor, Ont., in 1971. She was later found dead — abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered — near an alley a kilometre away from her home. Windsor police this week released the name of the man they say killed the child. (CBC News)

On Wednesday, they finally provided a name — Frank Arthur Hall, who died in Edmonton in February 2019 at age 70.

Police said Hall was 22 when the little girl was killed, and had been living under two kilometres down the street in the 1800 block of Drouillard Road.

Const. Bianca Jackson told CBC News on Thursday that a Freedom of Information Act request from the Windsor Star was a factor in finally releasing the name. So was a change in police leadership — Jason Bellaire was named as new permanent chief in November.

“It’s definitely fair to give credit to the Windsor Star,” Jackson said.

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Also, “with our new leadership, we examined and ultimately came to a decision to make that change.”

CBC News filed a similar request in 2020 and again in December 2022. Both were denied and one was in the process of being appealed.

Windsor police denied the information, saying deceased individuals have privacy rights for 30 years after death, releasing the name would be an unjustified invasion of privacy, and because he’s deceased, he no longer poses a threat to public safety.

“This individual was never arrested, charged or convicted of this crime and is now deceased,” police said in January 2020.

Jackson said police an “an internal discussion that led to a reversal to a decision that was made quite some time ago.”

A photo of a young Frank Arthur Hall with dark hair and a tattoo on his arm, and a photo of an older Hall with white hair posing in a kitchen
Police released images of Frank Hall, who they say killed Ljubica Topic. He was living in Windsor at the time, in 1971. Hall died in Edmonton in 2019 at age 70. (Windsor Police Service)

Bellaire said in a Wednesday media release that “we are committed to operating with full transparency and serving the interests of the people of Windsor and Amherstburg.”

“We hope this decision meets the public’s need for knowledge and offers the opportunity for members of the community to provide further information that may assist with other investigations.”

Michael Arntfield, professor of criminology at Western University in London, questioned why it took such lengths for this information to become public.

“Naturally, this is information that the public has a bona fide interest,” he said.

He said releasing the name could have value in other cases.

“Child sexual murderers, inevitably in most circumstances, are involved in serial crimes, not necessarily serial homicides,” he said. “By releasing this information, it recognizes that reality and that there may be other victims out there, other cases that may be able to be linked.”

The case has attracted national interest over the years. It was reopened six times since the 1970s, with hundreds of tips from across Canada and the U.S.

There have been more than 500 persons of interest over the years.

Valerie Potter of Owosso, Mich., lived in the neighbourhood at the time Ljubica was killed and remembers the search. She said she’s happy there is “peace and resolution” for the family.

“I thought this day was never going to come.”

She said she didn’t believe it was fair that police didn’t release the man’s name at the time they revealed the case was solved.

Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. ​​If you’re in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911. 

With files from Dale Molnar


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Media Keep Stifling the Covid Debate – WSJ – The Wall Street Journal



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Facebook users consume more fake news than users of Twitter, other social media sites: Study – CTV News



When it comes to election misinformation on social media, Facebook takes the cake, according to a new study which found heavy Facebook users were far more likely to consume fake news than Twitter or other social media sites.

The study, published earlier this month in the peer-reviewed journal Government Information Quarterly, found Facebook users read the most fake news about the 2020 U.S. presidential election and reported the most concern about votes not being counted properly.

They also found the biggest factor in whether a person reported being suspicious about the election results was their level of fake news consumption, not their method of casting their vote.


According to the study, a big part of the problem with relying on social media for news is that these sites have algorithms designed to keep you scrolling and engaged, meaning that they’re likely to keep serving you the same content you’re engaging with and make it harder to climb out of a disinformation hole once you are in it.

“What we saw in this study is that if you aren’t careful, the bias that you bring into your news consumption can be absolutely confirmed and supported if you are in a place like Facebook where the algorithms feed into that,” Robert Crossler, study co-author and an associate professor in the WSU Carson College of Business, said in a press release.

Those who got their news about the 2020 election primarily by navigating directly on a news website were less likely to consume fake news, the study found, and were more likely to believe that the election had unfolded the way it did.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s win in 2020 was accompanied with unproven allegations pushed by former U.S. President Donald Trump that the election had been stolen from him and that many votes for him had gone uncounted. Allegations of voter fraud with mail-in ballots and with Dominion voting machines were spread after the election, but none of these claims stood up in court, and few legal experts supported this position.

However, the lack of factual support didn’t stop the story from spreading widely on social media.

It’s not new that Facebook and other social media sites can be drivers of disinformation and fake news, but it’s trickier to measure how consuming fake news affects a person’s perception of reality.

In order to get a better understanding of this, the Washington State University-led study designed three surveys relating to how political alignment, fake news consumption and voting method each individually impacted a person’s perception of the election.

In the study, “fake news” was defined as articles and sites spreading disinformation that was provably incorrect, not articles or sites with information perceived to be false from a partisan standpoint.

The first two surveys were given to different groups of voters prior to the election, both containing hypothetical scenarios for participants to react to.

The first posited a scenario where the participant would either be voting in-person, through the mail or online. Once the participant had read the scenario of their voting method, they were asked questions about how concerned they were about votes being counted properly, and how much news they got from various news organizations.

The second survey gave the scenario of all voters needing to use mail-in ballots that would be counted either by a government official, a neutral party or by a voting machine. They were then asked again about their concerns regarding votes being counted and their news sources.

The third survey was presented to a group of actual voters after the election. Participants filled out what their voting method had been, and then answered the same questions presented in the previous two surveys. They then reported what percentage of their news they got from direct navigation, Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites.

Researchers were surprised to find the voting method — whether people voted by mail or in-person — had no measurable impact on how likely participants were to be worried about votes not being counted properly.

Instead, the more a person reported receiving their news from social media, particularly Facebook, the more likely they were to be heavily concerned about votes not being counted.

This suggested to researchers that Facebook, more so than other social media sites, was elevating sources spreading these fears.

“I don’t think that Facebook is deliberately directing people towards fake news but something about how their algorithm is designed compared to other algorithms is actually moving people towards that type of content,” Stachofsky said. “It was surprising how hard it was to find the websites Facebook was directing people to when we looked for them in a web browser. The research shows that not all social media platforms are created equal when it comes to propagating intentionally misleading information.”

The study also found there was no age group more likely to read fake news, which is different from other studies, suggesting that there could be a higher proportion of younger adults consuming fake news than had been previously thought.

Authors noted that more research needs to be done to understand how disinformation spreads and how it can be combatted, particularly in a political climate where the partisan divide in the U.S. is increasing the distrust in mainstream media. They’re hoping that this study could spur social media sites to think more about how their algorithms impact their users.

“This supports the argument that people need to be encouraged to be information or news literate,” Crossler said. “Right now, we are talking about the elections, but there are a lot of other issues, such as the war in Ukraine, that directing people to misinformation is not only misleading but also potentially dangerous.”

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2023 Media Layoff Tracker: Rough Year For Journalism Marked By Increasing Layoffs




Board members of the Texas Democracy Foundation reportedly voted to put the progressive Texas Observer on hiatus and lay off its 17-person staff following prolonged economic woes and shrinking readership, marking the latest in a brutal series of closures and layoffs rocking the media industry in 2023.


March 27The Texas Observer’s staff, who reportedly heard about the impending layoffs from a Texas Tribune article, writes a letter to the Foundation’s board asking them to reconsider the decision to close the paper and sets up an emergency GoFundMe page in a last ditch effort to find funding.

March 23NPR cancels four podcasts—Invisibilia, Louder Than a Riot, Rough Translation and Everyone and Their Mom—and begins laying off 100 employees as part of a push to reduce a reported budget deficit of $30 million.

March 21NPR affiliate New England Public Media announces it will lay off 17 employees—20% of its staff—by March 31 after facing “serious financial headwinds during the last three years,” New England Public Media management tells Boston public radio.


March 19Sea Coast Media and Gannett, a media conglomerate with hundreds of papers and Sea Coast Media’s parent company, lay off 34 people and close a printing press in Portsmouth, New Hampshire as part of Gannet’s efforts to reduce the number of operating presses and prioritize digital platforms.

February 26Three Alabama newspapers—The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and the Press-Register—become fully digital publications and reportedly lay off 100 people following a prolonged decrease in print paper circulation, Alabama Media Group President Tom Bates told NPR.

February 17New York public radio station WNYC cancels radio show The Takeaway after 15 years on air after the show reportedly became too expensive to produce amid a declining audience—an unspecified number of people are laid off.

February 9News Corp, which owns the Wall Street Journal and HarperCollins publishers, among others, expects to lay off 1,250 people across all businesses by the end of 2023, Chief Executive Robert Thomson reportedly told investors following compounding declines in profit.

January 24The Washington Post stops publishing its video game and kids sections, leaving 20 people unemployed a little over a month after publisher Fred Ryan foreshadowed layoffs in 2023—executive editor Sally Buzbee reportedly tells employees the layoffs were geared toward staying competitive and no more are scheduled.

January 23The marketing trade publication Adweek lays off 14 people, according to employees.

January 21Vox Media, which owns The Verge, SB Nation and New York Magazine, lays off 133 people—7% of the media conglomerate’s staff— in anticipation of a declining economy, chief executive Jim Bankoff reportedly tells staff.

January 19Entertainment company and fan platform Fandom lays off less than 50 people at affiliated GameSpot, Giant Bomb, Metacritic and TV Guide, Variety reports, mere months after Fandom acquired the four outlets, among others, for $55 million.

January 13The Medford, Oregon-based Mail Tribune shuts down their digital publication after hiring difficulties and declining advertising sales, according to publisher and chief executive Steven Saslow—an undisclosed number of people are laid off and severance packages depend on signing a non-disclosure agreement, the Oregonian reports.

January 12NBC News and MSNBC lay off 75 employees as part of a broader corporate reorganization.

January 4Gannett closes a printing press in Greece, New York, as part of an increased focus on online journalism, resulting in the layoffs of 108 people.

January 4Gannett lays off 50 employees at an Indiana printing press to “adapt to industry conditions,” a spokesperson told the Indiana Star—the press remains open and the layoffs aren’t expected to affect newspaper employees.



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