Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An error by Global TV News or part of a pattern?

Bene Diction Blogs On pulled out the requirements to be met by our mostly self-regulating broadcasting industry:
The Canadian Association of Broadcasters Code of Ethics (Clause 5 – News) states:
It shall be the responsibility of broadcasters to ensure that news shall be represented with accuracy and without bias. Broadcasters shall satisfy themselves that the arrangements made for obtaining news ensure this result. They shall also ensure that news broadcasts are not editorial.
News shall not be selected for the purpose of furthering or hindering either side of any controversial public issue, nor shall it be formulated on the basis of the beliefs, opinions or desires of management, the editor or others engaged in its preparation or delivery. The fundamental purpose of news dissemination in a democracy is to enable people to know what is happening, and to understand events so that they may form their own conclusions.
The RTNDA (Radio and Television News Directors) code:
Article One – Accuracy
Broadcast journalists will inform the public in an accurate, comprehensive and fair manner about events and issues of importance.
The CSBC has ruled in the past that insertion of  misleading footage, even if the broadcaster didn’t intend to mislead is a breach of Article One.
Article Seven – Corrections
Errors will be quickly acknowledged and publicly corrected.
I raised the issue about Global TV carelessly or deliberately (choose one) spicing its national news report about G20 demonstrators with video showing Vancouver Olympics vandals in action because I see it as part of a pattern. Sometimes through carelessness, other times through intention to shape the message, the news is distorted. Neither is tolerable. Democracy depends upon a free and accurate, unbiased press.

In British Columbia, Global TV News and Corus Radio are frequently partisan in favor of BC Liberals, as is the Vancouver Sun editorial board. They have squeezed reporting resources so completely that broadcast staff now read press releases to fill their newscasts.  As I write this, Corus radio reported Health Minister Kevin Falcon's self-congratulation about congestion reducing as much as 25% in hospitals because of revised "patient focused funding." The truth is that congestion is less because surgery schedules have been slashed and patient care staff laid off because of financing shortfalls since the last fiscal year.

That reminds me of the 'Yes Minister' episode 'The Compassionate Society' that depicts a hospital with five hundred administrative staff but no doctors, nurses or patients. The series creator recalls that "after inventing this absurdity, we discovered there were six such hospitals (or very large empty wings of hospitals) exactly as we had described them in our episode." Those places too were not congested.

Because broadcasters use exclusive licenses to the airwaves, they have a particular responsibility for fairness and accuracy. That means giving voice to a spectrum of ideas, not simply the single interpretation favored by corporate owners.

As consumers and as citizens, we have a right, perhaps a duty, to hold the news media to account when they fail to meet the standards stated above. We need to use the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council to voice our concerns and, if that is fruitless, demand better oversight from the CRTC.

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1 comment:

  1. Given the latest information on the BC government site where they were advertsing for senior civil servants that must have the ability to "create a crisis to force change" so they can "capitilize on the best opportunity" - we know we cannot believe the BC Liberal government any more. It is imperative that the media be made to report accurately and honestly - failing to do so should be met with severe measures including loosing priviliges if necessary.

    Having a known dishonest government is bad enough in itself - having the media in bed with it as well .................!!




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