CBC Ombudsman: New reviews finished and others launched

CBC Ombudsman Kirk LaPointe recently announced the release of two reviews, and his agreement to conduct three more.

The first completed review involves a complaint regarding the language co-host Kevin O’Leary used to describe the financial performance of General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt. Commenting on his perceived poor performance O’Leary said: “At some point, the institutional shareholders are going to put a bullet in his head.”

A viewer complained that the imagery was “totally unacceptable” and that the co-host was “encouraging terrorism.”

After review, LaPointe concluded that while terms in the business world are at time uncomfortable — and often make nods to violent imagery — there was no violation of CBC Journalistic Standards and Practices.

In the second review, LaPointe addressed a complaint about the accuracy of a crowd estimate at the Annual March for Life rally in Ottawa on Parliament Hill in May.

Quoting police estimates of the crowd numbers, CBC reported that 5,000 people were in attendance. A viewer complained that this number low-balled the actual amount, which she said was closer to 15,000.

While LaPointe acknowledged that there can be underlying motives when crowds are underestimated, he concluded this was not the case with the report in question.

“CBC relied on official sources of information on crowd size, an approach far preferable to assuming the task itself,” LaPointe writes in his conclusion, “Given that police resources are in part accorded in relation to crowd size, there are no evident reasons to disbelieve stated police estimates or to not conclude its estimates are the most accurate available.”

Going forward, LaPointe has agreed to review three new complaints: one on the appearance of journalistic conflict of interest; another on the timeliness of reporting and updating; and a final one about the accuracy of information on Osama bin Laden.

There are currently half a dozen reviews underway.