The complainant, Jackie Thipthorpe, objected to a story about visitors at a veterinary school open house. The research project featured involved a cow with a fistula which enabled participants to reach into its stomach. She questioned the judgment of reporting the story in the first place, and its lack of criticism of the treatment of the animal. The report was not about the ethics of animal testing, and the reporter raised the issue of the impact on the cow. While there was no violation of policy, the story was improved in response to this complaint with the addition of a critical voice
You objected to the tone of a story published on cbcnews.ca Saskatchewan. The article was entitled “Gutsy crowds line up for chance to feel inside hole-y cows at Saskatoon vet college event”. The story recounted a demonstration at a yearly open house at the veterinary college of the University of Saskatchewan. The demonstration involved allowing up to 75 visitors the opportunity to feel the inside a cow’s stomach. The animal is fistulated as part of an ongoing research project being conducted at the university. You said “the story was disgraceful on its own merits” and CBC exacerbated the situation by treating it as a joke:
There is nothing funny about the mistreatment of animals nor should it be made into a game or challenge for the public to participate in…But there are many of us already fighting against this treatment of making holes in the sides of cattle. We already have x-rays and sonograms. We would never accept them doing this to humans so why would we accept this in other species?
You asked that the story be removed and the reporter be trained “in appropriate behaviour in journalism.”
David Hutton, the Managing Editor of News in Saskatchewan, replied to your concerns. He told you the news staff judged the research demonstration newsworthy because there were long lines of people waiting to experience placing their arms in a cow’s stomach. He explained that he believed the story conformed to CBC journalistic practices because those policies allow for a range of views and perspectives. He noted the policy states that the journalism “does not promote any particular point of view on matters of public debate.” He pointed out that the reporter did question the veterinary student about the impact on the research animal: