Why Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Won't Unpublish Couple's story of arrest

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Canadian Broadcasting Corporation won’t unpublish articles, CBC ombudsman Esther Enkin reminded readers in a Sept. 3 column.

A husband and wife were “charged with forgery and using a forged document” and the wife also faced deportation in 2011, when the CBC report was published.

The husband contacted CBC recently asking for them to take down the story citing the charges against them.

He said that he and his wife can’t start their new life in China because the old news story looms over their heads, seemingly forever, thanks to Google searches.

However, because the story is accurate — the couple were charged — the CBC doesn’t permit unpublishing, Enkin said, therefore, the article was there to stay. In fact, she even suggested the CBC do a follow-up report on what happened to the couple since CBC never reported on whether they were convicted or the wife was deported. iMediaEthics wasn’t able to find any information about what happened to the couple either.

While Enkin acknowledged “it is unfortunate” the couple still is upset about the story, it was a newsworthy and true story that was in the public interest.

“CBC policy states that once there has been a report of charges being laid, there is a strong obligation to report the final outcome of the case,” Enkin wrote. “Those details are not clearly spelled out in the article, nor does there seem to be a subsequent version. CBC News management should consider updating the story.”

The story reported on legal issues against the man and his wife.

Even though the legal issues are three years old, Enkin addressed the complaint after the man appealed when CBC senior director of digital media Marissa Nelson declined his request.  Nelson had told him about the CBC unpubishing policy, which matches with many news sites’ unpublishing practices:

The CBC’s website has specific guidance for handling “requests for deletions”; the policy notes “there can be exceptions” to the ban on unpublishing and the CBC could consider requests for “legal or personal safety considerations.” The policy states, in part,

“Because much online material remains accessible indefinitely, we receive requests to remove stories by audience members who are either principals in stories, or are affected by them.

“We generally do not agree to requests to remove published material from our web pages.

“Our published content is a matter of public record. To change the content of previously published material alters that record. Altering the record could undermine our credibility and the public’s trust in our journalism.”

Hat Tip: J-Source

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Why Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Won’t Unpublish Couple’s story of arrest

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