The complainant thought a reporter should not have used the colloquial phrase “kick out” to describe an incident in which a student was told to leave an exam for refusing to remove her hijab.

By Esther Enkin, CBC Ombudsman

The complainant, Kamran Moghbel, thought a reporter should not have used the colloquial phrase “kick out” to describe an incident in which a student was told to leave an exam for refusing to remove her hijab. He said colloquialisms don’t belong in the news and in this case it distorted the facts. He also thought it culturally inappropriate. I disagreed and found the radio news story was clear and accurate.

COMPLAINT

You objected to the use of the phrase “kicked out” in a CBC Radio news story regarding a student at Collège de Maisonneuve who had been asked to leave an exam. The young woman was wearing a hijab and the professor asked her to remove it so he could check for earphones. The woman refused but invited the professor to feel her ears to determine whether she was hiding earphones. You thought starting the story with the phrase “kicked out” was inappropriate:

Replacing “asked to leave” with “being kicked out” is neither consistent with journalistic standards of factual reporting nor culturally appropriate.

You said that colloquialisms did not belong in news writing, and added that “kick” is not a synonym for “leave.”

You also cited the Broadcast Act to support your concern about the “cultural appropriateness of inserting kicked out in CBC News”:

Section 3 Of the Broadcasting Act, S.C. 1991, c. 11 reads:

“3(1) It is hereby declared as the broadcasting policy for Canada that:

(b) the Canadian broadcasting system, operating primarily in the English and French languages and comprising public, private and community elements, makes use of radio frequencies that are public property and provides, through its programming, a public service essential to the maintenance and enhancement of national identity and cultural sovereignty;

(d) the Canadian broadcasting system should

(i) serve to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada,”

MANAGEMENT RESPONSE

The Managing Editor for CBC Quebec, Helen Evans, responded to your complaint.

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