May 29, 2015 - 5:32 AM
KAMLOOPS – A complaint against coverage of the Ajax debate on CBC radio in Kamloops went all the way to the public broadcaster’s highest authority, but ultimately, the complaint was deemed meritless by CBC ombudsman Esther Enkin who says private citizens have the same right to their opinions as do experts.
Shelley Joyce, host of Daybreak Kamloops, interviewed concerned citizen Sean McGuiness about his concerns with the Ajax project, March 11, 2015. McGuiness, a math professor at Thompson Rivers, had submitted a letter to a local blog expressing concern that housing prices within a certain proximity to the Ajax project could decline
Caroline King’s main grievance was the one-sidedness of CBC’s program that day. She objected to McGuiness’ lack of credentials and asked why this man was given a forum to speak at all.
“The prof had no evidence, no data, and no facts to back up his opinions — only a 20-year-old piece of U.S. research unrelated to the Kamloops mine proposal, a study he found after 'spending some time on Google,'” King said in her complaint.
McGuiness admitted to Joyce on the radio program he came upon his findings almost by accident when searching mining information online, an example of a gravel mine in Arizona where housing prices in the immediate vicinity dropped by roughly 5 per cent.
King said the program that day could hardly be “considered sound journalism by any stretch” as McGuiness had no real estate expertise, nor was an opinion offered to the contrary.
Both Enkin and B.C. programming director Lorna Haeber responded to King’s complaint. It was Haeber’s contention McGuiness was never presented as an expert, instead the point of the program was to illustrate the need for more information.
Haeber went on to say that CBC’s coverage on Ajax was balanced, adding the host, who remains unbiased, will continue to offer all opinions on her radio show.
The ombudsman agreed with Haeber’s conclusion adding McGuiness “is a citizen of Kamloops with a concern and a point of view,” and everyone was a right to an opinion; expert or not. She felt his expertise, or lack-there-of, was explained to listeners and it was up to them to agree with his findings or not.
Enkin concluded Joyce’s interviewing methods were sound and it was acceptable to present only his opinion of the Ajax during the program.
“There is nothing wrong, in an ongoing story, to have a single guest present one perspective on an aspect of the story. While blatant inaccuracies should be challenged, it is well within journalistic practice to use an interview to explore a single idea, or one’s person’s thoughts.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015