On current affairs and satire: Esther Enkin’s first review as CBC Ombudsman

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Esther Enkin, who began in her new role as CBC Ombudsman on Jan. 1, released her first review last week.  In it, she examined CBC Radio’s The Current’s use of satire in its broadcast.

A Nov. 14, 2012 segment on home-schooling in Alberta closed with host Anna Maria Tremonti finishing  her final interview, signing off, and saying, “That’s it – we’ll leave you with one last word on home schooling.” From there, a comedy sketch, which depicted the difficulties of homeschooling a teenager, began.

Some people didn’t take the humour very well. Enkin explains:

 One complainant, Joyce Carvalho, asked for a review. She felt the sketch violated CBC’s standards of Accuracy, Fairness, Balance and Impartiality. “It was a despicable skit,” she wrote, “and I for one, am outraged for all mothers and fathers who lovingly make the choice, sacrifice and work hard to educate their children at home.”

In a response to Carvalho, The Current executive producer Jennifer Moroz apologized, saying the show could have been clearer in its introduction to the sketch.

The conclusion Enkin came to in her first review as CBC Ombudsman:

While there is no violation of CBC policy in this instance, programmers might want to consider the appropriateness of running this kind of material around issues of controversy and CBC management might want to think about providing guidelines around the use of satire in information programming.

Enkin, who has been with the CBC for more than 25 years, most recently in the role of executive editor, was appointed to the Ombudsman position in November. She replaced Kirk LaPointe, who had been in the position since October 2010.

Enkin’s first review can be found in full here

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