CBC conflict of interest complaints upheld

The CBC Ombudsman has agreed with me and others who raised the issue of Stephen Smart’s conflict of interest. Now, we await the corporation’s resolution of this matter. You can read the entire Ombudsman report here but the important section is this:

…Whether a real or perceived conflict of interest, no amount of managing it can do more than mitigate the impact on an impartial fulfillment of duties.

In this instance some of Smart’s central political reporting functions that involve dealings with the premier and her opponents are affected or impeded. He also bears an unavoidable conflict of commitment in which professional responsibilities commingle with moral obligations in other legitimate personal roles in his life.

CBC journalistic policies are designed to be congruent with corporate policies that call for an avoidance of real or perceived conflict of interest, bearing of the greatest scrutiny, and exceptions only when the corporation’s interests are clearly better served.

Smart can report with integrity, and CBC’s protocol can combine disclosure and recusal, but the pervasive appearance of a conflict of interest will continually challenge their 5 reputations. It is hard to see how an arrangement with the potential to diminish the effectiveness of CBC’s journalism and public standing serves an interest worthy of a policy exception.

My role isn’t to sort through the challenge of resolving this matter in accordance with labour law or collective agreements. My role is simply to assess the situation against policy in light of the public complaint. As it stands there is a violation of CBC Journalistic Standards and Practices.

Kirk LaPointe
CBC Ombudsman

This issue was brought to wide public notice by bloggers and concerned citizens and that should not have been necessary since professional, full time reporters knew what was going on. A question we should ask is where was the corporate media on this issue. If they are silent on one offence to journalistic standards, we can be sure they will remain silent on others too.

For example, we need to know about reporters receiving speaker’s fees from industry groups affected by their coverage; or, “research” contracts and other hospitality from the Fraser Institute, or fees to advise industry and business groups on gaining better press coverage (pay rewards for it?), etc.

Unfortunately, experience suggests people of BC’s mainstream media will remain silent when abuses affect their own affairs or the affairs of colleagues.

Another issue to address is that CBC’s news management in the Pacific region has exposed their own poor judgment and their stubborn refusal to be accountable to reasonable citizen complaints. The relationship between news consumers and news presenters requires trust. CBC’s Vancouver management has damaged that trust.

* * * * *

The text of my December 18 complaint to the CBC Ombudsman along with his initial response is included in the article CBC reporter’s conflict of interest.


Categories: CBC, Journalism

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20 replies »

  1. Well done, Norm.

    It will be very interesting to see the corporate media and their reporters report on this while dancing around the obvious question you ask; where were they on this glaring conflict?

    Or will they pretend it didn't happen?


  2. Way to go Norm. It's people like you that make reading blogs so much more informative & important that then the sleaze bags in the MSM.

    Guy in Victoria


  3. Congrats Norman! Huge victory for the people's media. It must feel at times that what you do is all worth the effort…and you must be feeling that right now. WELL DESERVED. And BTW thanks!!


  4. Wonderful news! What took them so looong to come to that conclusion, and how come they couldn't see it themselves, hmmm? Because they are too stupid, or because they thought the public was too stupid?

    But wait, just because the CBC has been pressured into stating the obvious, let's not be deceived that the CBC has suddenly had some conversion on the road to Damascus and won't continue their inappropriate insider relationship with the BC government through some other, less obvious, means. When caught, those that practice to deceive usually just go underground.

    It took a blogger to bell this cat. Where was the mainstream news media? Or don’t they see anything wrong with insider access?

    This is an obvious example of why self-regulation doesn't work — in the media industry or in any organization or situation where someone has a right, a privilege or a responsibility to others.

    Self-regulated industries (e.g. legal industry), regulatory bodies filled with government appointees, and government watchdogs who sign contracts stipulating they will not release any information to the public that hasn't been approved by the government… these are all just various forms and degrees of deception. BC is riddled with this kind of faux “governance” oversight.

    Truly independent, truly arms-length oversight is required in any area that has the potential for serious impacts on others. Truly effective oversight requires both teeth (effective law) and unimpeachable moral integrity (of the person). The only examples of this in BC right now are Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, and BC’s Auditor General.

    This small but important victory is also a death-knell for mainstream news media.


  5. Did you see Keith Baldry's Twitter comment on this issue – basically, Smart is a good reporter so everyone should leave him alone. It's insane.


  6. A less than professional reporter Keith Baldrey who changes his opinion & morale compass as some women who change there shoes has tweeted ” That CBC Ombudsman ruling on Stephen Smart being in a conflict is baloney. He's an exemplary reporter. Leave him in his job. “
    First of all I don't respect any of his reporting and I totally despise his arrogant attitude when on Global ( the last time I watched was over 2 years ago ). He always projected the image that his audience was dumb and that he knew the answers to everything. Do you ever wonder why such reporters who are so in love with themselves and walk around like no one is better….? are always stuck at the same station going nowhere. Maybe it's because they've given up & are awaiting retirement ?
    Stephen Smart should be replaced today… not tomorrow.

    Guy in Victoria


  7. Baldrey has already exposed his own journalistic ethics. Ask the paymaster at the BC Chamber of Commerce. Baldrey also participated in cozy sessions with the BC Liberal government and public corporations such as BC Ferries

    A reporter cannot take rewards from those he may report on and remain true to the best principles of journalism.

    Baldrey has nothing to teach any of us about exemplary journalism.


  8. Great job Norm,whenever i miss real journalism(and i do)i come to this site.Baldrey is also the reason i stopped watching global news,i mean pulling numbers out of his you know what is what irked me the most.


  9. Agreed, I have been thinking the same thing. We can expect the dippers to get whacked soundly and regularly by the msm (in an orchestrated manner I might add) after the faux libs have been given the boot and emptied the public coffers.


  10. I don't claim personal responsibility for bringing this issue forward. I'm just one of those people “using their own standards to judge others” (Bill Good) and apparently, a person with “an axe to grind” (Keith Baldrey).

    Except, I'm applying commonly accepted principles of journalism, which Good, Palmer and Baldrey have no time for since those same standards would prevent them from conducting business as they do.


  11. norm please put your blog url and a one sentence bio in your twitter profile and link to it on your website please. thanks


  12. Yes, and it was well written and accurate although Stephen Smart was identified as a “reporter” when his title is Legislative Bureau Chief.

    However, NW still is accountable for the 5 minutes of garbage in the 10 o'clock hour voiced by Good, Baldrey and Palmer. More about that soon.


  13. Thanks Norman – and congratulations for a job well done. I'm not (and never have been) a huge fan of Kirk LaPointe but, for once at least, even he got this one right.



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