"Refusal" to allow Jewish-Israeli voices to be heard

Review from the Office of the Ombudsman | English Services


“Refusal” to allow Jewish-Israeli voices to be heard in a report about the “third way” to establishing a Palestinian state

You wrote initially in May to complain about an item on The National done by correspondent Margaret Evans. You said that the CBC refused “to allow Jewish-Israeli voices to be heard in the piece. Virtually all people interviewed railed against Israel…”

Mark Harrison, the program's Executive Producer responded. He pointed out, as he said he had previously, that the notion of “balance” did not require either a mathematical or immediate equivalency of views in a single item.

You asked for a review.

This review need not be long. Given the stream of items that have been done by Ms. Evans and others out of the area, both in Israel and elsewhere, the notion that any single item MUST have an Israeli voice is not valid.

It is also inaccurate to describe the voices heard as “railing” against Israel—in fact, they were discussing the merits or lack thereof, of the so-called “third way” to establishing a Palestinian state.

In your request for a review you asked that I add “two recent reports by Nahlah Ayed (that) did not include Jewish-Israeli voices”.

This complaint is also unfounded. In viewing Ms. Ayed's reports on The National in late May until the date of your letter, I found only one that did not include a “clip” of a “Jewish-Israeli.” That item, done from Gaza on June 10th, and about Gazans, contained an accurate summary of Israel's position. An item on June 7th about an Israeli military action off the coast of Gaza, contained a clip from a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry. It was the only clip in the item. By your logic, The National should be faulted for not having a “balancing” clip from other voices. However, given the reporting that was contained in the piece, the item met the tests of CBC's policies.

On June 6th, Ms. Ayed reported on the reaction of various Israelis to the raid the week before on the Mavi Marmara. All the clips were from Israelis, and Mr. Netanyahu is quoted by the reporter.

On May 31st, in her report on the raid itself, Ms. Ayed not only carried the Israeli video of the event, but clips of Mark Regev and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The mere presence or absence of supporters of any view in a single item does not prove anything. It is clear from the evidence of the broadcasts that The National has been making reasonable efforts to fairly reflect relevant views on the conflicts in the Middle East.

There has been no violation of CBC's Journalistic Standards and Practices.

Vince Carlin
CBC Ombudsman