CBC Ombudsman: Fixing facts on Facebook
The complainant, Jyothi Jayaraman, was one of 9 who objected to the explanation of the process of medically-assisted death. In the course of taking questions live on Facebook, the interviewee gave wrong information. CBC admitted fault and despite best efforts, came up against the limitations of making corrections on a platform they don’t control. It’s a sticky problem which requires some new solutions.
You were one of several people who complained about an interview with palliative care physician Louise Coulombe. CBC News provided content involving Dr. Coulombe on several platforms. The focus was the final stage of the life and the death of Diana Fitzharris, a woman with ALS, who died in a hospice where Dr. Coulombe works. The documentary, which ran on The National and was also posted on the cbcnews.ca website, is entitled “A hospice story: The ‘amazing’ last days of Diana Fitzharris.” In addition, the producer of the segment, Diane Grant, hosted Dr. Coulombe on a live chat on Facebook. The conversation was also posted on YouTube. The segment provided a synopsis of the Fitzharris story and then opened up for questions from people following on Facebook. The discussion was framed as “What happens in the final stages of life? Palliative care physician Dr. Louise Coulombe takes your questions on death and dying.” In the course of this live interactive session, Dr. Coulombe was asked about Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). She described the process and the drugs administered by the attending physician. You said that she provided false and incorrect information:
Either she is completely ignorant of the subject (in which case she should have said so, including letting the listeners know that she was a Conscientious Objector) or she uttered falsehoods deliberately. All across Canada there are people who would like to make informed choices about MAiD and to have such a respected media outlet as CBC allow this to stand without correction is unacceptable. CBC needs to contact an expert in MAiD to give an accurate account of the process.
You are concerned that the Facebook post is still accessible with no correction or accurate information.
Raj Ahluwalia, who was acting Executive Producer at the time, responded to your complaint. He acknowledged that there were factual errors in Dr. Coulombe’s description of MAiD.
Continue reading this on the CBC website, where it was first published.