Business as Usual: Not everything that is recorded gets used

The complainant, Rory Mitchell, was concerned that CBC failed to air an interview conducted with a woman who was supportive of #GamerGate, and the view that it is a consumer revolt about corruption in gaming industry, and that it is not anti-feminist. It is rare to provide a review of the omission of something. I did in this case, and found there was no violation of policy.

COMPLAINT

You wrote to express concern after you read a blog on the website One Angry Gamer. In it the blogger expressed concern that a CBC producer had interviewed Jennifer Dawe on the subject of the ongoing controversy known as “#GamerGate.” Others who read the blog or became aware of this fact also wrote to express their concern and displeasure. Ms. Dawe is a game developer who has one view of the accusations of harassment against some women who write about or develop video games. You and others thought that her interview was never published on CBCNews.ca because of her view.

As the blogger put it: “Jennifer Dawe is pro #GamerGate and believes that #GamerGate is not about harassing female game developers but about the reform in games journalism ethics.” You characterized the non-publication as the “silencing and suppression of voices.” You and others strongly feel that #GamerGate2014 has been an attack on gamers who are wrongly accused of harassment and anti-feminism. Rather you believe that the scandal in the gaming industry is about corruption in the industry, specifically collusion between journalists and bloggers who write about gaming, and the companies that produce them.

MANAGEMENT RESPONSE

The Executive Producer of CBCNews.ca, Gary Graves, replied to your concerns. He explained that John Bowman, the associate producer who conducted the interview, was doing some research in anticipation of creating some features about the controversy in the gaming community. He did so without any specific assignment made. He explained that Mr. Bowman is obliged to pitch story ideas to a more senior person. Mr. Bowman is one of the producers involved in the creation of a regular online feature on the CBCNews.ca website entitled Your Community Blog. He also contributes to a weekly piece for radio through the radio syndication service. Mr. Graves emphasized that the producer was doing some early work developing a story:

The information he took from the conversation with Dawe informed a story idea, one of several he had in mind for that week’s syndication piece, which he pitched to his syndication producer. As it turned out, his producer approved another idea.

That’s how the media works. Reporters often do some work on a story to see if there is anything to it. They take that idea along with others to an editor or producer who decides which ones to pursue that day and assigns them. It doesn’t necessarily mean the story is good or bad, just that at that time on that day with the resources available, that is one he decided to go ahead with.

Mr. Graves assured you that staff at CBC news is aware of the ongoing issues in the videogame industry and community. He told you that they are continuing to monitor developments and he “expects (they) will be carrying more on it in the coming weeks.”

REVIEW

It is rare the Ombudsman would review a complaint which involves omission, rather than commission – reviewing something that has been published. It is true that the systematic ignoring of a perspective or point of view would constitute bias. The important word here is systematic. You and others in the gaming community have written in to complain every time a CBC program or platform mentions #GamerGate2014. I have already conducted one review on a different story and found no violation of CBC policy. This will be the second.

Mr. Graves’ explanation is completely credible and consistent with the practice in every major news organization. It is not unusual for individuals to take initiative and get information for a story to be suggested. It is equally usual that more story suggestions are turned down than accepted. The judgment of what resources should be allocated to which stories is always a juggling act. You are passionate about this topic and feel the interview should have been published. That is reasonable, but it is not bias or a violation of CBC Journalistic Standards and Practices.

As the blogger who wrote about the non-publication stated in his post: “It is not uncommon for journalists to interview someone and then not opt to publish it for a myriad of reasons.” I agree completely.

Esther Enkin
CBC Ombudsman