The complainant pointed out an error in a Day 6 broadcast, and in its related web material.

By Esther Enkin, CBC Ombudsman

The complainant, Darryl Filazek, pointed out an error in a Day 6 broadcast, and in its related web material. It took a long time to get the correction, and not all the versions of the story were fixed. He also thought the clarification was not clear enough. I did not agree on that count, but the process for correction does not seem to live up to the policy’s goals.

COMPLAINT

You were concerned that a programme segment on CBC Radio’s Day 6 and its related online stories contained false information. The episode was first broadcast on September 10, 2016. The story, entitled “Facing the Change: 50% of Lennox Island, P.E.I, could be underwater in 50 years”, quoted Dr. Adam Fenech, a climate scientist who is the Director of the Climate Research Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island. It outlined the dangers low lying areas like Lennox Island face from rising sea levels.

Using the programme feedback function, you pointed out that Dr. Fenech was incorrectly described as a Nobel Prize winning scientist. When Gord Westmacott, the programme producer, said he would not change the description because of a reference to him as a Nobel prize winner in a biographical description on a University of Toronto website, you contacted this office. You pointed out that while Dr. Fenech had contributed material to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a co-recipient of a Nobel Prize in 2007, the IPCC had expressly stated it was incorrect for any individual to claim Nobel status.

You believed the scientist was described as a Nobel winner to “to lend credibility to the scientific source for the story.”

Gord Westmacott reconsidered your complaint after receiving it through this office, agreed that it was not a correct designation, and changed the articles on cbc.ca as well as issued a clarification on a subsequent edition of Day 6. You were dissatisfied with the wording of the clarification:

...the wording of the spoken and written corrections do not include an effort to retract the attribution of “Nobel prize-winning” credentials to Dr. Adam Fenech which were declared in the various CBC stories and programs. Only one word is missing from those corrections. That word may be “incorrectly”, “mistakenly”, or another similar adverb before the word “described”.

You also pointed out that the archived version of the broadcast still had the incorrect description, as did one online version of the story.

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