UPDATE: Soon after this blog appeared, I received a note from an NTV reporter, explaining that the story script said “last evening” and not “this morning.” I was mortified – could I possible have got it wrong? I contacted NL News Now, a local media monitoring company, who quickly located the clip and played it back on the phone.
Glen Carter does indeed say “this morning” and then cuts to an interview with Health Minister, Susan Sullivan, so the mistake goes uncorrected for the rest of the newscast. Then, at 6:00 pm, Pam Parsons does get it right, referring to events that took place the day before. Based on this, I can conclude that NTV did not intentionally change the timeline. If they had, they would have done so again at 6:00 pm.
While they didn’t give CBC credit for breaking the story, the station’s integrity is not in question.
Based on this information, I have deleted some of the text in the following blog, as well as portions of Marc Riddell’s quote, who no doubt would not have made the statement had he known it was an honest mistake. The deleted text makes reference to NTV intentionally shifting the timeline, which I am satisfied did NOT happen, and is marked with an ellipsis ( … ). (I would have preferred to strike-through the text, but apparently we don’t have that option in the blog architecture.) I have also corrected the day in which the original event occurred, which was Monday, not Tuesday.
March 23, 2012 - It was a most unpleasant story to watch on TV, especially at suppertime, but it must have been just as repulsive to cover.
On Monday, David Cochrane of CBC Here & Now reported on medical waste that was strewn all over the roadside, along the Prince Philip Parkway. Vials of blood and urine, and blood-soaked bandages, were scattered curbside and all over the lawn of a government building. It was a horrible sight. Cochrane prepared a solid piece, with some fairly graphic footage of the debris and even the cleanup operation, as guys in white suits picked up the mess.
That was Monday evening. The next day, NTV News ran the same story, but with one difference: the timing had changed. According to the script, events had occurred “this morning.”
Now, we all know that the networks monitor each other’s newscasts, to keep an eye on the competition and make sure they aren’t missing anything. NTV must have seen the CBC item.
( … )
No matter how you slice it, that incident did not happen Tuesday morning – it occurred roughly midday, or earlier, on Monday.
I sent off a note to Marc Riddell, managing editor for CBC News in NL, for a response. I explained what I had seen on NTV and indicated that I’d be writing about it, but asked first for clarification on CBC’s policy in similar instances. After all, it would be unfair to criticize NTV if CBC does the same thing.
“Well I'm surprised they would do that especially since they have no footage prior to the clean up,” Riddell replied. “While there is no policy that dictates we do that, we always credit ‘media reports’ or ‘CBC news has confirmed...’ when dealing with a story we did not break. For example the Robo-call story in Ottawa (we have advanced it but initially it was a Post Media story).
“( … ) When we get the facts wrong, we make corrections. And when someone in the audience challenges our journalism, they have the right to file a complaint with the CBC Ombudsman.”
I sent a note to Fred Hutton, news director with NTV, but he hasn’t replied. I will file an update, if and when he does.
( … )
As for CBC’s policy, “CBC news has learned” doesn’t quite cut it for me. It’s dodgy and unclear. I guess I’m okay with “media reports.” But why not just come out and name the media outlet that broke the story? I’ve noticed, lately at least, that this is The Telegram’s policy, and I do commend them for it.