Canadian Broadcasting Corp. decided against scrubbing fired host Jian Ghomeshi’s work from its website after readers and viewers complained.
Earlier this month, CBC told the Toronto Star that “the lion’s share” of Ghomeshi’s interviews from the Q program will be yanked from the website. “We aren’t erasing the archives, we’re just taking them offline for now,” CBC’s Chuck Thompson said. CBC also said that they would not re-broadcast Ghomeshi’s interviews.
“We’re going to use judgment and do what we’re able to do to reduce the association with our former host,” Thompson added at the time. Later, the CBC’s Thompson told Canada’s QMI Agency, “This is not a massive wipe. People are reading way too much into this.” CBC typically only keeps the past two years of content available.
Then, last night, Thompson told iMediaEthics that CBC changed its position. “We’ve had a lot of feedback from our audiences and in light of their comments, have decided to leave the Q archival material in place,” he wrote by e-mail.
Thompson added this morning, “To be clear, we were always going to preserve the content, however in light of hearing a lot of feedback from our audiences, we have decided to leave the archive (Q videos) fully accessible.” He said CBC still won’t re-broadcast old clips of Ghomeshi though and called the archival content “valuable, part of our collective history and we take this responsibility seriously.”
Ghomeshi was fired in October, as iMediaEthics has reported. The next month, Toronto police charged him with four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking. Ghomeshi said he was suing the CBC for $55 million for defamation and breach of trust, but dropped his lawsuit last month. He has filed a complaint with Canada’s Media Guild about the firing.
Columbia Journalism Review pointed out that by removing Ghomeshi from the CBC website, CBC could protect victims, but it raises other concerns.
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“Journalism is ostensibly the business of revealing information, not concealing it,” CJR wrote. “But rare exceptions are made to protect witnesses or to prevent the re-victimization of assault survivors. Should the Q archives be one of those exceptions?”
CJR added that the CBC is a “state-owned ‘Crown corporation,'” which “invites unflattering comparisons with state censorship.”
Below, read tweets about the news.
iMediaEthics has written to Ghomeshi’s representatives for comment.