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Thursday, November 7, 2013

CBC News - afraid to offend supporters of terrorism, but happy to bash conservatives

Compare and contrast these two responses from the CBC Ombudsman:

Talking about terrorists and terrorism

The complainant, Bruce McMinn, questioned why CBC reports on the attack and siege of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya did not refer to the perpetrators as terrorists or the attack as a “terrorist attack.” 

Jennifer Harwood, Managing Editor of CBC News Network, replied to your concerns. She explained that it is a long standing practice to use the words “terrorist” or “terrorism” when they are attributed by others. She explained that the practice is “to describe the act or individual, as ‘bomber’, ‘militant’, ‘extremist’ or ‘gunman,’ for instance, and let the viewer, reader or listener make his own judgment about the nature of the event. The purpose of journalism is to reflect reality, to inform, and to give viewers and listeners enough information so that they can reach their own conclusions.” 
She pointed out that the use of the word can be highly politicized and therefore it is preferable that there be a consistent practice to be as specific as possible in describing an event without labelling it. She pointed out that many other leading news organizations also avoid using the words “on their own as a form of description without attribution.” CBC has been following this practice for over 30 years.

Here's a tip that one might think a "journalist" or someone in charge of oversight for a News Deprtment might be aware: "terrorism" is a word. Words have definitions. If a person or persons act meets the definition of "terrorism" than the act is terrorism and the perpetrator is a terrorist.

the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce,especially for political purposes.

It is very clear that what happened at the Westgate Mall was terrorism. But the CBC didn't mention that there are a number of supporters of terrorism among the network's supporters, so offending them is something they wouldn't want to do.

On the other hand conservatives aren't, as a rule, big fans of the CBC, so who cares if the CBC exhibits blatant bias against them? 

Twerking is not a four-letter word

You felt an analysis column by Neil Macdonald about the politics of the shutdown of the United States government was highly inappropriate. The column, which you referred to as a diatribe, is titled: “Analysis: Republicans twerking for the cameras like Miley Cyrus.” You felt that Mr. Macdonald was “engaging in obscenities” because he used the word twerking and he compared Republicans to the singer Miley Cyrus. You cited these lines from the piece to make the case that the essay contained “mean-spirited, obscene language”:

Like the utterly shameless woman-child Miley Cyrus, modern Washington understands the mortal risk of banality, and so occasionally needs to make a singular spectacle of itself.
Republicans are doing that now: sticking out their tongue, grabbing their crotch, waggling their rear end and ‘twerking’ for the cameras, to use that awful neologism.”

You said the essay indulged in “rather hysterical name-calling, instead of putting forth rational arguments.”

Aside from the language, you objected to the placement of the essay on the news home page. You said it was the only reference to the situation in Washington you saw on the page. There were no “objective” articles listed, so that you might check on the latest news of the day. “So instead of informing Canadians as to what is happening in Washington, we are treated to an opinion essay lobbing obscene insults at Republicans.” You felt this harmed “CBC’s supposed journalistic integrity.”


The Senior Director of Digital Media, Marissa Nelson, responded to your concerns. She told you that CBC News had been following events in Washington over a period of time and that there was extensive “traditional news coverage”

h/t David M

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