CBC news to provide more balance

CBC ombudsman Vince Carlin …

But there is another significant aspect to our policy. As mentioned, it calls on CBC outlets to touch on the widest range of views possible. On CBCNews.ca, there does not appear to be a wide range of “pointy” views. For instance, many of those who complained claimed that there is no one of an opposite ideological viewpoint readily apparent on the service. Unfortunately, this appears to be true. As I observed in an earlier review concerning CBC Newsworld programming, the CBC should not necessarily avoid having people of strong views on the air, but we must ensure that people of differing views are given a fair opportunity.


CBC publisher John Cruickshank…

More than 300 people have taken the trouble this month to complain to the CBC ombudsman about a column we ran on CBCNews.ca about Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Sept. 5. The column, by award-winning freelance writer Heather Mallick, was also pilloried by the National Post in Canada and by Fox News in the U.S. … Vince Carlin, the CBC Ombudsman, has now issued his assessment of the Mallick column. He doesn’t fault her for riling readers by either the caustic nature of her tone or the polarizing nature of her opinion. But he objects that many of her most savage assertions lack a basis in fact. And he is certainly correct. Mallick’s column is a classic piece of political invective. It is viciously personal, grossly hyperbolic and intensely partisan. And because it is all those things, this column should not have appeared on the CBCNews.ca site … We failed you in this case. And as a result we have put new editing procedures in place to insure that in the future, work that is not appropriate for our platforms, will not appear. We are open to contentious reasoned argument but not to partisan attack. It’s a fine line. Ombudsman Carlin makes another significant observation in his response to complainants: when it does choose to print opinion, CBCNews.ca displays a very narrow range on its pages. In this, Carlin is also correct. This, too, is being immediately addressed. CBCNews.ca will soon expand the diversity of voices and opinions and be home to a diverse group of writers with many perspectives. In this, we will better reflect the depth and texture of this country. We erred in our editorial judgment. You told us in no uncertain terms. And we have learned from it.


Wow.  I never thought I’d see the CBC admitting its bias.  Now to see whether they actually follow through with their promises.

2 Responses to “CBC news to provide more balance”

  1. Eric says:

    I read the piece and although it wasn’t very PC, it was funny in a caustic sort of way. Mostly because it is, unfortunately, accurate. This is a Woman (Palin) who has only managed to emphasise that rational thought and the american conservative evangelical cannot co-exist…the “young earth” belief/what is the Bush Doctrine anyway?/I know foreign policy because I can see Russia across the Bering Straight/can only name 1 US SUpreme Court decision…and who could’t conduct an interview if her life depended on it (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/29/snls-palin-mockery-used-t_n_130363.html). What amazes me is that people reacted so strongly to an opinion piece, and worries me as well. The role of a public broadcaster is to challenge teh status quo, otherwise you have what occurred in teh US followin 9/11 where anyone who questioned the validity of the administrations position was either railroaded or harrassed out of their jobs, and the news coverage was blindingly obedient to the will of the government. Bye the way, FOX is hardly in the position to criticize over politically charged hateful language by an opinionated contributor to a programme, Anne Coulter anyone?

  2. Phil L says:

    Eric: I believe that Mallick is entitled to express her opinion about Sarah Palin, whether it is accurate or not. However the hatchet job on Palin’s daughter and other family members was uncalled for. If it weren’t for those attacks I would oppose the column’s removal from CBC online. I think the bigger question is whether a public broadcaster should provide only one view, or a variety of views. I think that the CBC ombudsman and the CBC publisher got it right this time.
    As far as FOX news is concerned, I never use them as a news source, but I understand that they lean to the right politically (Anne Coulter included). Since they are a private business, consumers who don’t like that bias have a right to not support them (unlike CBC where the taxpayers pay for Mallick’s diatribes whether we want to or not).
    Personally I try to look for balance in my news consumption. That’s why I don’t rely only on CBC (left bias) or the National Post (right bias), but try to check different sources. I welcome the promised change at CBC.
    Regarding the status quo, I think a pretty good case could be made that the CBC challenges the political status quo much more vigorously when a Conservative government is in power in Canada, or a Republican government is in power in the U.S., than when the Liberals or Democrats are in power. If your statement “the role of a public broadcaster is to challenge the status quo” is true, the CBC should have hired Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant during the decades of Liberal rule, and fired Heather Mallick and Avi Lewis. I don’t recall that happening.