The Globe and Mail published a “dumb, insensitive” headline with a report on Jian Ghomeshi, the CBC radio host who was fired last month after accusations of sexual abuse, public editor Sylvia Stead wrote.
CBC fired Ghomeshi Oct. 26. In a long Facebook post, Ghomeshi said he was fired “because of the risk of my private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer.”
However, the same day the Toronto Star reported that three women accused Ghomeshi of being “physically violent to them without their consent during sexual encounters or in the lead-up to sexual encounters,” according to the New York Times.
Three women have gone to the police accusing him of sexual assault, the Globe and Mail reported Nov. 2, noting Ghomeshi hasn’t been charged. “At least nine women, two of whom were willing to have their names published, have spoken to various media outlets about the assaults they say they suffered at the hands of Mr. Ghomeshi,” the Globe and Mail added.
The Globe and Mail received complaints from readers over the headline “Can Jian Ghomeshi rebuild his brand?” which was published with a video from Business News Network about CBC’s brand and Ghomeshi in light of the claims against the radio host. The video also reported on how Ghomeshi’s social media accounts are losing followers and the “deconstruction of the Jian Ghomeshi brand.” The headline in question was posted on The Globe and Mail’s Twitter as well.
The video itself was released by Business News Network and re-published by the Globe and Mail. Business News Network is owned by Bell Media and identifies itself as “Canada’s only all business and financial news channel.” Business News Network promoted the video on its Twitter account with the below tweet:
— BusinessNewsNetwork (@BNN) October 31, 2014
iMediaEthics asked Bell Media, which owns Business News Network, for more information regarding its video and the criticism of the Globe and Mail‘s publication.
Matt Garrow, Director, News & Radio Communications and Community Investment, told iMediaEthics by e-mail:
“Bell Media can confirm it has received no complaints about the content of the discussion, which was a regularly scheduled, weekly marketing interview about the major news stories of the week. The piece was incorrectly positioned online as being about ‘rebuilding’ Mr. Ghomeshi’s ‘brand’, but was in fact a discussion of how the news unfolded and how the social media tide turned.”
Globe and Mail readers slammed the headline for being in poor taste, the newspaper’s public editor Stead blogged.
“It was dumb to raise the issue of Ghomeshi’s brand at a time when the police are investigating very serious allegations,” Stead wrote. “It was insensitive to raise a question about his brand when the issue is so much more important than such a trivial question.”
She added that deciding to post the BNN video itself “was a very poor editorial choice by the Globe.”
Globe and Mail head of digital editorial Kevin Siu told her: “In the case of this BNN video, we made an error in editorial judgment. After a week of multiple allegations against Ghomeshi of abuse, asking how he can rebuild his brand is offensive.”
In addition to the mea culpa blog post, The Globe and Mail also changed the headline, Stead noted.
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Below, read some tweets on the topic:
— Gourmet Spud (@gourmetspud) November 3, 2014
The question we’re all asking, yessir RT @globebusiness: Video: Can CBC rebuild its brand in the wake of the Jian Ghomeshi allegations?
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) November 3, 2014