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Ruling on CBC's Rob Ford coverage

Categories: Canada, Journalism

(Gawker/Canadian Press)

If you fancy yourself a media-watcher, chances are you were paying attention to an event in Toronto this week.

The Ontario Press Council held hearings to investigate how two newspapers covered Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his family.

Most of you know these stories well. The most high-profile one was about a video that purported to show the mayor smoking crack cocaine.

Well, today the CBC Ombudsman issued a report of her own on how we handled that particular story here at CBC News.

The Ombudsman received some complaints arguing that we gave too much coverage to the story of the video, especially because CBC journalists had not seen the tape themselves.

I can tell you, we had an extremely vigorous debate around here about the right approach to take as this story was unfolding. We felt the public interest was too high to ignore. But we were scrupulous about what language we used, and were sure to share with our audience what facts we knew, and what facts we didn't.

Nonetheless, audience members asked Esther Enkin, the CBC Ombudsman, to conduct a review on our performance. In her report today, she determined there was no violation of CBC policy.  "It is certainly not ideal to have been talking about a tape that no CBC reporter had seen," she wrote. "But given the high profile of the people involved, and how the story evolved, the decision to stay with the story was a correct one."

If you want to read the entirety of Esther Enkin's report, you can find it here.

The Office of the Ombudsman is one of the strongest vehicles we have to make sure that CBC journalism is accountable to the public. It operates entirely independently, and holds us accountable to our Journalistic Standards and Practices. If you want to find out more about how the Ombudsman's Office functions or how it can help you, check out the website here.

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