The complainant caught an error in a CBC online story, which was quickly corrected. He still thought the story was one sided though, but the CBC ombudsman Esther Enkin writes it was an effective round up of events and reaction after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who was tried for the murder of a young black man, Trayvon Martin.

 By Esther Enkin, CBC Ombudsman

The complainant caught an error in an online story, which was quickly corrected. He still thought the story was one sided though, but I thought it was an effective round up of events and reaction after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who was tried for the murder of a young black man, Trayvon Martin.

COMPLAINT

The George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight web site posted an article featuring a round-up of reaction to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who had been tried for the murder of Trayvon Martin. The case was very controversial and was intensively covered in American media. The article, entitled “After George Zimmerman’s Acquittal, Protests and Questions in the U.S.,” initially stated: “Zimmerman’s lawyers argued that he had acted in self-defence under Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law, because he believed his life to be in immediate danger. After 16 hours of deliberations, the jury accepted the argument.” You wrote to say that this was an error: “The Zimmerman defence actually waived ‘stand your ground’. Zimmerman was acquitted under the traditional standard of self- defence.”

After the show’s producer acknowledged and corrected the error, you asked for a review because you felt the piece was biased:

“And yet the rest of the story, complete with fallacious references to Stand-Your-Ground defence, remains un-retracted. Perhaps, CBC, your headline should read: "After Zimmerman's Acquittal, Two-Minute Hate Gets New Target".

Really, without the straw-man of Stand-Your-Ground, the article is nothing more than the promotion of violent acts by race-baiters, anti-gun ideologues, and social engineers.”


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As I have already noted, there was a factual error in the piece. The Executive Producer of the program wrote you to acknowledge the error and to let you know it had been corrected, with a prominent correction notice at the bottom.

REVIEW

CBC News has specific policy on corrections. When an error is made, it is to be acknowledged and corrected: “When a correction is necessary, it is made promptly given the circumstances, with due regard for the reach of published error.” 

The procedure was followed in this case, and while it is unfortunate that a basic fact was wrong, it was dealt with in a timely way. The inaccuracy was a violation of policy. The handling of it was not.

Please visit the Ombudsman's website to continue reading this review, where it originally appeared. 

Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.