The Ombud’s Inbox

Happy February - though most Canadians looking at the weather forecast may see that as a contradiction in terms.

I told you when I started as CBC’s new Ombudsperson a few weeks back that I would let you know what issues generate the most feedback to my office.

As I look back at our correspondence since January 1st, here’s what has jumped out:

The single event that generated the most emails was the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. As for broader issues, I received a number of emails regarding coverage of Donald Trump, then a flurry of letters this week about the issue of gun control.

I experienced very different activity on Twitter. Many users there tag @CBCOmbud when they comment on CBC’s coverage. The issues arising most frequently among my “mentions” on that platform were Canada’s decision to grant asylum to Rahaf Mohammed, and a community of users arguing that CBC is not doing enough to question actions and statements by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.

Now, I know better than to associate volume of tweets with how widely-held a view might be.

But I am struck at how many people ask me on Twitter to weigh in on concerns they have about CBC journalism.

So far, I haven’t done that. It’s not because I don’t look at the mentions, and it’s not because I’m uninterested in the concerns expressed there. It’s because Twitter is not the right place for me to weigh in.

My mandate to hold CBC journalists accountable is by acting as an agent of appeal. That means when people submit complaints to me about a particular story or program, I allow CBC a chance to respond to the complainant first. If that response is inadequate, that’s the time for me to dive in. The reviews I do are always made public. I post links to them on Twitter, and you can read all of my reviews (and those of my predecessors) here.

So, if you want to talk about CBC journalism on Twitter, go for it. But if you want to receive a response, here are the ways to reach out:

  • Via email at: ombud@cbc.ca
  • Fill out the form on my web page

Another tip: make your complaint specific. For instance, if all you say is that CBC is biased, there’s not a whole lot there for CBC managers to respond to, and I won’t likely ask them to try. If you can point to a particular story and the reason you think it failed, then we’re getting somewhere. Also, be aware that we only accept complaints within 12 months of publication or broadcast.

While I’m on the subject of how to reach us: I sometimes receive feedback on program areas that have nothing to do with journalism. Those areas are outside my mandate. If you want to reach out, try the CBC Help Centre. It is the best way to contact the CBC, and to find helpful information and FAQs.