Our credibility is the foundation of our reputation. The credibility of our news, current affairs and public affairs programs rests on the reputation of its journalists who are, and are seen to be, independent and impartial.
The integrity of the organization is ultimately shaped by the individual integrity and conduct of everyone, in their work, and in their outside activities.
To preserve that independence, all employees involved in the creation of content that is subject to Journalistic Standards and Practices must carefully consider what organizations they are publicly associated with. They should be mindful that public statements, whether face-to-face or through social media, may create the impression of partisanship or of advocacy for a cause. If we believe there could be a conflict of interest, we inform our supervisor.
In particular, if an employee is asked to participate as a speaker, panelist or moderator for an outside group or professional association, approval is needed from editorial management. This includes unpaid as well as paid participation. Before agreeing to write or contribute to a book, editorial management must be consulted and adherence to Guidelines for Employees Writing Books is required.
Conflict of Interest guidelines are spelled out in Corporate Policy 2.2.3 (Conflict of Interest and Ethics), 2.2.21 (Code of Conduct) and 2.2.17 (Political Activity). All people whose work is governed by the Journalistic Standards and Practices must read them and comply with their requirements. There may be other situations that create a potential conflict of interest. It is always wise to consult a supervisor if there is any doubt. The links to all Corporate policies that cover conflict of interest are provided in the section called “Links to Corporate Policies.”
Links to Corporate Policies
Accepting free travel to help in newsgathering, creation of content or for research puts us in a conflict of interest. The provisions of CBC’s policy on free travel are covered in Corporate Policy 1.1.2:
We do face situations where there is a public interest to cover a story, and the only means to get there is through an outside organization or individual. Our practice in these situations is to ask for an accounting of costs and try to reimburse them. These exceptional circumstances require the approval of the Managing Editor.
When we report from a location that we reached with help from outside support, we mention that fact in our coverage.
When the CBC becomes the story, our reporting remains accurate, impartial and fair.
Although there is an inherent conflict of interest at every level, normal techniques of newsgathering and decisions about the nature of coverage are the most useful way to ensure journalistic integrity.
This means that there should be clear editorial separation between those people reporting on the stories and those who must publicly make the Corporation’s case.
This also means that reporters and editors involved in covering a CBC story must remove themselves from insider briefings relevant to this story.
Covering a story involving family members
Independence is a core value of CBC. If a current affairs or news employee has a close relative, defined as spouse, parent, child or sibling who is a major actor in a story, that employee cannot be involved in the coverage. It is the responsibility of the employee to inform his/her supervisor of the potential conflict so that a protocol can be developed.
CBC serves Canadians in many ways. We are a news organization but we also present sports and arts content. In some cases we have business and financial arrangements with cultural and sports organizations we also cover.
It is important CBC journalists who are covering sporting and cultural events and organizations for the purposes of news and current affairs are familiar with journalistic standards and practices.
Reporters should avoid accepting gifts of significant value from teams and cultural organizations, in accordance with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics policy.
However, tickets for the purpose of doing reviews are not considered gifts and can be accepted.
Personal use of social media
In our personal social media activity, we are mindful of our professional association with CBC, and ensure what we do conform to CBC social media and conflict of interest policies.
We maintain professional decorum and do nothing that can bring the Corporation into disrepute.
The expression of personal opinions on controversial subjects or politics can undermine the credibility of CBC journalism and erode the trust of our audience.
This policy overlaps with, and should therefore be considered in conjunction with, the following CBC policies:
a. Policy 2.2.3: Conflict of Interest and Ethics
b. Policy 2.2.21: Code of Conduct
c. Policy 2.5.1: Corporate IT Security and Employee Use of IT Assets
d. Policy 2.9.2: Personal Information and Privacy Protection