Was the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Code of Ethics the most appropriate to use in evaluating Sun News' Krista Erickson's interview last summer with contemporary dancer Margie Gillis? Marc-François Bernier isn't so sure, and asks whether the Council's decision would have been different if a more journalism-specific code of ethics had been used.
Marc-François Bernier, the Canada research Chair in journalism ethics, has pointed out in an article on J-Source’s French-language counterpart, ProjetJ, that while the Canadian Broadcast Standards’ Council cleared Sun News’ Krista Erickson under the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Code of Ethics for her conduct in an interview last summer with contemporary dancer Margie Gillis, this was perhaps not the most appropriate code it had at its disposal.
Bernier notes that the CAB ethics guidelines are a general code, laid out to deal with all sorts of programming.
But the CBSC also had the Association of Electronic Journalists (RTDNA) Ethics Code that could have been consulted. It is a code that, as Bernier says, is more specifically applicable to journalists. Article 8 of this code states the following:
Electronic journalists will treat people who are subjects and sources with decency. They will use special sensitivity when dealing with children. They will strive to conduct themselves in a courteous and considerate manner, newsgathering as unobtrusively as possible. They will strive to prevent their presence from distorting the character or importance of events.
Bernier spoke to CBSC about why they did not use this article to evaluate Erickson’s conduct, and was told that it didn’t apply because it was not a news segment. Rather, it was an interview on an issue: Whether or not the arts should get funding in Canada. But Bernier contests that interviews of this nature are a process of the newsgathering mentioned in the article.
Would the CBSC have come to a different conclusion had they used the journalism-specific code – seeing as how Erickson is a journalist and Sun News is a news station – rather than the more general code that lumps news in with other entertainment programming?
Read the full account on ProjetJ here.