Below is a copy of the complaint I have sent to the CBC Ombudsman. You can see my original post on it here:
I was troubled by a recent CBC article by Bridget Yard (“Bathurst man called ‘suspicious’ for reading on wharf” CBC News New Brunswick, Jul. 10, 2016) which I believe violated appropriate journalistic practices in favour of creating a sensationalistic story.
The article centers around a Bathurst man who was “pulled over and questioned by RCMP.” The significant paragraph reads:
“A Bathurst man says he was pulled over and questioned by RCMP while driving home from Stonehaven wharf, and was told it was because police received several calls regarding a ‘suspicious black man’ in a white car parked at the wharf.”
It is unclear from whom the quote in the above paragraph (“suspicious black man”) is coming from. Is it a quote from Louizandre Dauphin, the central figure of the story? Did Dauphin offer it as a direct quotation from the RCMP officer he dealt with?
The story proceeds to state that “RCMP said they were unable to provide comment on the incident, since no one was arrested or charged.” However, in a Canadian Press story on the same incident (“Black man stopped by police after reading near wharf in New Brunswick,” July 11, 2016) the reporter claims the RCMP stated “there was no mention of the occupant’s ethnicity or race” when asked about the incident. The reporter also states Dauphin claimed “race was never mentioned in the exchange with the officer.” I am troubled by the inconsistencies in Bridget Yard’s story. She seemingly, but ambiguously, quotes Mr. Dauphin quoting the RCMP officer making a statement about how the officer’s targeting of Mr. Dauphin was racially-motivated. She similarly claims the RCMP had no comment on the incident one way or another. Both of these claims are contradicted by the Canadian Press story, which claims the RCMP was, in fact, prepared to speak openly about the incident, and that Mr. Dauphin claimed the officer he dealt with “never mentioned” race in his exchange.
Ms. Yard’s story deliberately seeks to portray the incident with Mr. Dauphin as a signal that Canada features American-style tension between the black community and the police. Given the seriousness of this claim, I believe it is very important that the facts of any story offered to support that thesis be unambiguously clear. I believe Ms. Yard’s story badly fails that test due to its ambiguous quotations and information that is starkly contradicted by a competitor publication’s reporting.
A retraction must be issued and an explanation on how this story did not meet CBC’s journalistic practices.