The complainant, Andrew Douglas, Managing Editor of Frank Magazine, was concerned that CBC News had left the false impression they had broken a story he ran first in his magazine by the use of heated language and references to investigation. While his magazine published first, CBC News had its own tip on the story and did not claim exclusivity. There was no violation of CBC policy.

COMPLAINT

You are the Managing Editor for Frank Magazine based in Halifax. You thought CBC News in Halifax wrongly left the impression they had presented an exclusive story – but in fact your magazine had published it first. The story concerned a funeral home in Berwick, a community in the Annapolis Valley. There had been a mix-up and the wrong woman was cremated. You said your publication broke the story first on January 7, 2018. You tweeted a link to it behind your website’s paywall at that time. The story was also published in the magazine, which you said was on newsstands around the province on January 10. You pointed out that various staff members at CBC News in Halifax follow the magazine on Twitter, and therefore would have likely known about the scoop.

CBC News published a story about the same funeral home on their website on January 17, followed by pieces broadcast on television news. It was the way they were presented on both platforms that you had an issue with. You objected to the “chest-thumping language” and the impression that it was CBC journalists who uncovered the story:

It immediately struck me that the language being used in the reportage made it sound like it was a CBC exclusive. Although the word “exclusive” was never used in any of the presentations I am aware of, the way the story was hyped made it seem like the CBC owned the story. Online, it was presented under the “CBC Investigates” banner, which in my observation tends to be used with exclusives the CBC do a deep dive on.

You also objected to the language used to introduce the television segment. You said this too was “torqued-up language” which left a false impression of the accomplishments of the CBC news team. You suspected that your story was the source of theirs.

You noted the CBC newscast presenter, Tom Murphy, introduced the story by stating “A CBC investigation uncovered the story of a mistaken cremation and a viewing that went terribly wrong:”

To be clear, it wasn’t a CBC investigation that uncovered this story, it was a Frank Magazine investigation. I spoke to family members who confirmed these things had happened. And I also spoke with the same funeral board official that Yvonne would eventually talk to, and he similarly confirmed there had been a problem.

You thought CBC did not necessarily need to acknowledge your work, but should have toned down their claims for the journalism on this story.

Continue reading this story on the CBC website, where it was first published.