The180·The 180

What you missed when you read about Canuck the crow stealing a knife

People like animal stories. It is a fact most journalists would concede, even a veteran crime and civic affairs reporter like Mike Howell. But recently Howell found himself confronted with an animal that he says got in the way of a much more important story.
Canuck the crow entertains the newsmedia. (Mike Howell)
Listen9:04

Last week in Vancouver, a crow stole a knife from a crime scene.

The story, being odd and involving an animal, was picked up by media outlets around the world.

Most of those stories use a quote given to the CBC by Vancouver Courier newspaper reporter Mike Howell. Howell saw the bird take the knife because he was at the scene to cover another story: the police shot a man.

The Vancouver Police Department sent out a press release earlier that day, advising there'd been a shooting at a parking lot. Howell went cover it. 

I noticed a burned out car, I noticed the police tape, noticed the police officers. And then I saw this crow.- Mike Howell, Vancouver Courier

Howell's story focused on the police shooting. According to witnesses, a man had set a car on fire, stabbed himself with a knife, and moved towards the officers when they arrived. 

He also included a short paragraph about the crow picking up the knife, and dropping it a few seconds later. 

So, when the crow angle really took off, Howell, after initially wondering whether he'd written the right story, started feeling like something had gone wrong.

What are we doing here? Are we doing entertainment? Are we doing real news? I'm not saying this story shouldn't have been written about the crow, but maybe a side story.- Mike Howell, Vancouver Courier

In this interview with The 180, Howell wonders why so many news organizations picked up the story, but so few seemed interested in the human beings involved, the person who'd been shot, and why.

Click the "play" button above to hear the interview. 

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