The complainant, Lara Dutton, objected to a CBC online writer expressing opinion while using the @CBCToronto twitter account. She wanted to know what the consequences were for the employee. There was a violation of policy and CBC management dealt with it appropriately.
You complained about a tweet posted by a CBC News employee, Lucas Powers, as part of an exchange regarding an article concerning Toronto schools’ guidelines for Halloween costumes children could wear to school. Mr. Powers was using the @CBCToronto twitter account while engaging with tweeters commenting on the story. He divulged his name after a tweeter asked for his identity. You said “major news organizations should not use their accounts to profess opinion of individual reporters.” You wanted to know what the consequences might be for the tweets, and what guarantees there were that there would be no further bias.
Tim Richards, the Managing Editor of CBC Toronto, replied to your concerns. He agreed that it was not appropriate for a CBC employee to use the @CBCToronto twitter account to express his personal views on the issue. He told you it was a violation of CBC journalistic policy, and added that this was a “glaring reminder to all of our journalists about their obligations on social media.”
Mr. Richards informed you there was a violation of CBC policy, and he was right. The Journalistic Standards and Practices is clear in its prohibition of CBC news staff expressing opinion, no matter what platform it is on. Mr. Powers used the CBC News twitter account to engage in a dialogue with commentators who disagreed with Toronto school guidelines on Halloween costumes. Mr. Powers inserted himself into a discussion without identifying himself, using the @CBCToronto account. He chose to challenge people who believed their freedom of expression was being limited and disagreed with the guidelines. He asked:
Why does your celebration have to involve trivializing history and culture? Why is your celebration more important than people? Honest Qs.