Out of Context.

The complainant, Mike Fegelman, Executive Director of HonestReporting Canada, wanted CBC News to add the information that a medic killed in the Gaza-Israel border conflict was a member of Hamas. Musa Abuhassanin was mentioned in the context of a story about a Canadian physician he helped during a protest. His affiliation was not relevant to the understanding of the story.

COMPLAINT

As the Executive Director of HonestReporting Canada you wrote to complaint about an article regarding a Canadian doctor who was injured while providing medical care among the protestors at the Gaza-Israeli border. London, Ontario-based physician Tarek Loubani had been shot in the legs during the ongoing violent clashes at the border. He had been aided by a Gazan, Musa Abuhassanin, who was working as a paramedic. Mr. Abuhassanin was shot and killed later in the day. You objected to the description of him as medical volunteer without also mentioning that he was a member of Hamas:

In a battle between Israel and the Hamas terror organization, where this individual was depicted as being an innocent victim, but who turned out to be a member of an outlawed terror organization, how can this information not be considered essential? There is every possibility that he undertook nefarious actions due to his belonging to a proscribed terror group.

You added that it is your contention that this affiliation should have been mentioned at the point of publication of this article, and most certainly after the fact.

MANAGEMENT RESPONSE

The Executive Producer of Newsgathering and Assignment, Lianne Elliott, replied to your concerns. She pointed out that the focus of the story was Tarek Loubani, the physician who was injured and ministered to by Mr. Abuhassanin.

He is a minor figure in this story -- the only reference to him within the text is about how he helped Loubani with his injury and then later was shot himself. We do not feel it is essential to this story to understand his affiliations -- the story is centred on Loubani, not him.

REVIEW

As Ms. Elliott pointed out to you, the focus of this story was the injuring of a Canadian physician, Tarek Loubani, and the subsequent killing of the medic who treated him. The medic is shown in two photos as you pointed out, in both cases wearing a high visibility vest. In one photo he is with other paramedic staff as well as Dr. Loubani. In the second he is part of a group working with a wounded patient. The story is based largely on Dr. Loubani’s account of what happened. The fact that the medic, Abuhassanin, was a member of Hamas was not essential to the understanding of the story in this context.

At the time of the publication of this story, CBC News staff were not aware of that affiliation. Reviewing the sequence of events, there was a photo on Facebook which showed Mr. Abuhassanin draped in a Hamas flag, but it was not picked up by news staff who were writing and editing the story about Dr. Loubani. The poster, or infographic as you call it, was circulating on social media around the same time the CBC story was published. Coverage of ongoing stories is iterative and the lack of this detail is not a violation of policy. As you noted, CBC did publish that poster in the context of another story about the conflict, and in a variety of its coverage has dealt with the broader issue of Hamas’s role in these protests, as well as the military response by the Israeli government. The coverage overall addresses the key issues and perspectives.

Sincerely,

Esther Enkin
CBC Ombudsman