Welcome to the new and improved CBC Ombudsman website. You will notice the new colours and layout. This is more than a cosmetic change: we have redesigned it to make it easier to use, to explain what we do, how we do it, and for you to share your comments and complaints. You will find the complaint form slightly modified for greater ease of use.
It will also be easier to read reviews of the complaints sent to me by audience members. In addition, I hope to use this space to share some of the most provocative and innovative thinking about ethics, journalism and its future. They won’t be my thoughts, necessarily, but ones that have caught my eye and made me think. From time to time, I may throw in my own two cents on trends – but anything that has to do with CBC journalism will be confined to the reviews themselves and the annual reports my colleague at French services, Pierre Tourangeau, and I share with you.
It’s been six months since I have been in this office. Each day I am struck by the passion and conviction in the mail I receive. CBC is committed to excellence in journalism. It is my job, with your help, to ensure that quality is achieved.
There are various versions of how the role of Ombudsman came into being. By one telling, news Ombudsmen are celebrating a centennial. At a recent Organization of News Ombudsmen conference I recently attended, I heard about the creation of a “Bureau of Accuracy and Fair Play” set up by the New York World newspaper in 1913. These were the days of incredible battles for circulation which gave rise to some pretty sensational journalism. In those days of yellow journalism, as it was called, editors were not above publishing made-up stories. After one such scandal the proprietor, Ralph Pulitzer, hired staffers whose job was to look through the paper for fake stories, to take readers’ complaints and to get a memo from the reporter on what s/he did. Sounds eerily familiar.
That was when print was the main show, and while papers printed multiple editions, there was nothing like the torrent of instant information we have today. Digital media may increase the risk of getting it wrong, but it also increases the probability someone will spot it and get it corrected. It’s almost become a cliché that the audience is now part of the news process, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
I am glad to be part of the work, with you, in creating an even more accountable, open and transparent CBC.