Politics

  • Election Coverage

    Canadians expect us to provide a wide range of information and context so that they can make decisions during election and referendum campaigns.

    We ensure that the facts and analysis we present on issues, candidates and parties are timely, accurate, fair and balanced over the course of the campaign.

    We give all candidates, parties and issues equitable treatment. This does not necessarily mean equal broadcast time.

  • CBC Polls

    The CBC assumes responsibility for the methodology and quality of the surveys it commissions.

    CBC commissions polls to reflect Canadian opinion on important issues of the day. The polls are commissioned, designed and interpreted in consultation with the CBC's Research Department.

    To help our audience place a poll in context, we provide relevant information about the size of the sample and methodology along with the results. Where appropriate we report the margin of error.

    CBC journalists should be familiar with accepted industry practices around sample size, reporting and interpreting results.

    Elections are a time of intense polling. We are mindful of the potential impact on the outcome of the election when reporting results of polls closer to Election Day.

    We should familiarize ourselves with any legislation regarding the publication of polls in election periods.

    Because polls are highly specialized, and because their results can have an impact on a public policy debate or the outcome of an election, the commissioning of polls requires the approval of the Editor in Chief in consultation with the CBC Research Department. The final design requires sign-off from the head of research or delegate.

  • Reporting on Polls (Other than CBC Polls)

    We report polls not commissioned by CBC as long as we can verify that the methodology is reliable.

    The methodology and interpretation of results of non-CBC polls should be reviewed by the CBC Research Department.

    To place a poll in context, we provide our audience with relevant information about the methodology including, where applicable, the sample size and the margin of error.

    We should familiarize ourselves with any legislation regarding the publication of polls in election periods.

  • Online Surveys

    We sometimes conduct online surveys as a tool of audience engagement.

    Because these surveys do not fulfill the criteria set out in polling policy, the questions and the results should not be characterized as polls.

    We report the results by giving the number of votes cast for each option. We do not give the results as a percentage, as we normally do with bona fide polls.

    If programs refer to online questions, the results are reported in a way that clearly indicates it has no scientific validity and are not meant to represent the accurate range of either public opinion nor the opinion of our audience.

  • Remuneration of Interviewees

    We do not pay people for interviews used in our reporting. Nor do we pay people for eyewitness accounts or answering our questions about events in which they participated. That would compromise the credibility of our reporting. It may be acceptable to reimburse certain legitimate expenses incurred by the interviewee in order to be available for the interview. If substantial expenses are involved, the proposal is referred to the Director.

    Payment of fees at recognized rates to experts or commentators is current practice and acceptable where the person comments on news or current affairs and adds context to our content without being an actor in the event or issue. In this context the payment of fees need not be reported on air.

    We may also be required to pay royalties for the broadcast or reproduction of copyrighted work such as photos, video recordings, audio recordings, drawings or other material that may be relevant to an interviewee’s statements. This does not constitute payment to a source.

    We do not pay politicians, their representatives or other holders of public office for participating in our broadcasts, news bulletins, reporting or online content. In addition, the law governing federal MPs and senators prohibits them from receiving any payment whatever from CBC, including reimbursements of expenses, fees or royalties), because of its status as a federal Crown corporation.

  • Planting Questions

    Working closely with sources as we develop and research stories is a valuable and common journalistic technique.

    When we do so, we must ensure that we remain free from influence of any political, economic or other interest groups or lobbies.

    Therefore it is not appropriate to supply specific questions to individuals, which then may be publicly raised in a legislative forum or any kind of public inquiry. This could harm the perception of our independence towards these individuals or the groups they represent.

  • Covering a Story Involving Family Members

    Integrity is one of our journalistic principles. We refrain from any involvement with stories in which a member of our immediate family (including in-laws) has a strong stake. It is the responsibility of the employee to inform his/her supervisor of the potential conflict.

    In the rare instance that such a conflict is unavoidable, news managers and the employee will develop a protocol to protect the integrity of our journalism.

  • Free Travel

    Accepting free travel to help in newsgathering, creation of content or for research puts us in a conflict of interest.

    We do sometimes 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 to reimburse them. These exceptional circumstances require the approval of the Director.

    If our travel costs are covered by an outside organization or individual that we could not reimburse, we mention that fact in our coverage.

  • Embargos

    Persons or organizations preparing to publish the results of research or investigations will often offer us privileged access to the conclusions of their report on condition that we undertake to publish nothing of the shared content before a date set by the report’s author. This is called receiving information under embargo. A commitment to comply with the embargo may also have been made by a news agency that provides us with articles identified as embargoed.

    Our policy is to fulfill our embargo commitments. Prior access to a study report allows us to better prepare our reports and to do rigorous reporting work on the results, and is thus a net benefit to the quality of information we publish. Also, we need to keep our word in order to keep information flowing from our sources.

    However, if the embargo is violated by another media organization, we may consider publication after consulting editorial management and after informing the organization that asked for the embargo. We will inform them that the embargo has been broken and that we intend in turn to go public with the information.

    If we have already obtained information covered by the material under embargo, we will avoid agreeing to an embargo and will publish the information according to our own criteria of newsworthiness and at the time we consider appropriate.

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