CKNW-AM re Dawson College Shooting Coverage

BRITISH COLUMBIA REGIONAL PANEL
S. Warren (Chair), H. Mack (Vice-Chair), O. Mowatt, F. Riahi

THE FACTS

Between 11:00 am and noon Pacific time on September 13, 2006, during the daily Bill Good morning show on Corus Radio’s CKNW-AM (Vancouver), the Vancouver station ran a live feed from AM940, CINW-AM, the Corus sister station in Montreal. The reason for the interruption of the Bill Good show was the dramatic breaking news about a shooting crisis at Dawson College in Montreal. That feed was introduced at the 11:00 am news break by CKNW news reader Terry Schintz. About 1-1/4 hours before the beginning of the live feed (at 12:41 pm Eastern time), an (at that time) unidentified individual entered Dawson College and began shooting at students in the College cafeteria. The fact that it was a single assailant was unknown at 11:00 am Pacific time. Indeed, as is frequently and understandably the case with breaking news stories, little accurate detail about the unfolding events was known at that hour. 

Early news reports had indicated, for example, that as many as three shooters had entered Dawson College. At one point, the police had told local media outlets that two gunmen were dead and a third was still at large. The issue is that there was, as noted above, considerable confusion and uncertainty at the hour of the live Montreal and Vancouver broadcasts. At the outset, as well, Montreal police were concerned that the Dawson College shooting was part of a co-ordinated terrorist attack on their city. According to the Montreal police commander on the scene (as disclosed at a media briefing on the following day), there had also been false reports of gunfire at four different downtown locations.  

In the end, it took the police more than three hours to secure the building, going floor by floor and room by room; furthermore, it took fully eight hours before Montreal police were able to sort out the correct and the incorrect reports and conclude that there had been but a single gunman. 

The rampant confusion and reporting contradictions are reflected in the opening statement from Michael Dean, the Montreal anchor covering the story on CINW-AM (emphasis added here and in all other broadcast quotations that follow; the full transcription of the Bill Good show, including the Vancouver news reports and the live feed from Montreal can be found in Appendix A). 

We can tell you that there are reports of at least two people shot and injured. Reports unconfirmed that a Montreal police officer has been shot. Shots continue to ring out within Dawson College. Police saying that there are several armed suspects in the school, currently barricaded there. We continue to get reports that there are still students and teachers barricaded within certain sections of the school. We await the arrival of the Montreal police tact-, uh, tactical squad, the SWAT team. But we can tell you that hundreds of students, if not thousands, have been evacuated already from the school. And that a police operation obviously underway in, in order to apprehend these suspects.Earlier we got a call, unconfirmed reports that a suspect was seen fleeing through Plaza Alexis Nihon, firing wildly. No confirmation on that report. We’re working on getting details. 

Confirming the confusion of the moment, news reader Schintz added: “Eye-witness Michel Boyer saw one of the shooters. He was speaking on CBC Newsworld.” He also said that “a man dressed in military fatigues stormed into the cafeteria of the college today and opened fire,” the dress issue being yet another element of confusion (as will become clear from comments made by one of the student eye-witnesses who is quoted below).

Following that interview, the morning show host Bill Good returned to air and sent the coverage back to CINW-AM, the Corus sister station in Montreal. That coverage continued with a back-and-forth dialogue between Montreal-based anchor Michael Dean and Montreal reporter Lisa Fiset. The exchange understandably continued to reflect unconfirmed reports of what was thought to be the most current state of on-the-ground events. Among other things, matters were in such a state of uncertainty that Michael Dean said the following:

Uh, again, unconfirmed reports that one of the assailants took his own life. Uh, another assailant, unconfirmed, has been shot and killed by police. Perhaps, as Lisa reported, we also have an innocent individual, um, that has been shot and killed outside the school, a student. We’re working on clarifying all of this. 

The host then interviewed Chloë, one of the students who had fled the school, and she referred to “a man all bl-, all dressed in black, with a black cape, with black boots, all in black with a huge rifle .” Later in her interview, she said, “I think there was two guys [sic].” Host Michael Dean pushed her on the issue, saying, “Chloë, you, Chloë, you saw one suspect, one individual? You didn’t see any other people? Because police are telling us that there may be as many as four suspects involved in this.” After concluding the interviews with Chloë and another student, Evan, Michael Dean spoke to Steve, who described himself as having received “training as an emergency medical technician.” Among other comments, Steve said: 

Outside the perimeter is chaos. People are yelling, crying, parents looking for their children, children looking for their parents, crying on the phone. Uh, very reminiscent of, of nine-eleven. You know, kind of sends chills down my spine, only two days after the anniversary [of the World Trade Centerdestruction].

Following that dialogue, host Michael Dean spoke to callers on their cell phones, who revealed where students were holed up in various parts of the Dawson College building.

Dean: All right, we’ve got Sannah who is on the, on the line inside the building. Sannah, what can you tell us?

Sannah: Yeah, hi. I’m inside the building. And, uh, I’m inside the lab. I’m on the seventh floor.

Dean: Okay.

Sannah: And there’s, there’s police everywhere and we’re still stuck.

Dean: You, there are police in the building? You’re in the building and there are police in the building?

Sannah: Yes. The police is in the building. And, apparently, the g-, the killer is on the second floor, floor, the cafeteria.

Dean: Okay. So –

Sannah: And we’re in the lab, which is on seventh floor [sic]. And we’re still waiting for the police to come and get us.

Dean: You gotta, you gotta, you gotta sit tight. They still have a situation they’re dealing with. Perhaps several suspects that are involved. We’ve got varying reports as to what’s taking place. The best bet for you is just to sit tight, be patient and let the police do their job and get you out of there safe.

Sannah: Yeah, we’ve locked the doors and we’ve sealed it with, uh, with cables. But we’re still really, really scared, you know?

Dean: Understandably so.

Sannah: Because every-, everyone is evacuated except for us. And we’re stuck on the seventh floor.

Dean: How many students or teachers are with you?

Sannah: We’re thirty to forty students here and there’s, there’s just one teacher with us.

Dean: Okay, and, and, and, so, how are all of you dealing with this? Understandably a very scary situation.

Sannah: Yes. Like, we don’t know what’s happening. Uh, there’s no one here to tell us what to do.And we’re just waiting here. We’ve locked the doors. And we’re just waiting for the police to come and, uh, take us outside.

Dean: Well, as I said, Sannah, the best bet for you is to just stay low, stay seated, stay calm, as calm as you possibly can. And wait for police to do their jobs and, and do their job and clear out the suspects and, and bring this horrible situation to an end.

Sannah: Yeah. Ther’re three, ther’re two other classes here who are stuck as well.

Dean: Okay.

Sannah: Yeah.

Dean: Well, S-, Sannah, you can tell everyone that we’re pulling for them to get through. Our hearts and our prayers are there with you. And, uh, we will, uh, do the best that we can to, uh, keep everyone updated on this.

Sannah: Yes, please.

Dean: Thank you.

Sannah: Thank you. Bye.

Dean: We’ve got Dahlia on the line as well. Lots of students on the third floor as well. You just heard Sannah report that, uh, that police are, are saying that the gunmen, or one gunman is in the atrium cafeteria. Dahlia, what can you tell us?

Dahlia: Um, I don’t know, not really much. I just got off the phone with my brother and he’s, uh, on the third floor. Uh, he’s in there with a couple other students and I think two, uh, teachers.

Dean: Okay.

Dahlia: And, uh, they’re very, they’re barri-, they’ve barricaded the doors.

Dean: Okay, with desks and tables?

Dahlia: And, uh, I’m not sure exactly what they’ve put in front of the door. I think there might be locks on it because he’s, he’s in a program where they have, like, a conference room adjoin-, adj-, adjacent to the classroom.

Dean: Okay.

Dahlia: So they pretty much just locked the doors.

Dean: All right, so, uh, how is he holding up?

Dahlia: He seems to be a little bit shaken up, but, uh, I don’t know. There seemed to be a lot of chatter in the background, so I think they’re just, just all worried, on the whole.

Dean: Well, absolutely.

Dahlia: Yeah.

Dean: Understandably. And did you have it, did he call you or did you call him?

Dahlia: He called me.

Dean: Okay. Because, as, we’re being told that the cell phone network is, uh, c-, extremely congesjed, uh, congested rather.

Dahlia: Yeah. ‘Cause he called me when it first happened and then I, I kept trying to call him back and I kept getting his answering machine. So he ended up calling me back again.

Dean: All right, Dahlia. Well, our prayers are with you.

Dahlia: Thank you very much.

Dean: You’re welcome.

Dahlia: Have a good day.

Dean: So, as you hear it there, there’s, there are still students that are barricaded within the school.Some on the seventh floor, some on the third floor. And at least one suspect, perha-, perhaps more are holding, uh, some students, perhaps, in the atrium cafeteria or they may be holed up there by themselves. Um, that is a detail we are working on.

After other interviews, Montreal host Michael Dean provided the following summary of matters: 

Again, working on flushing out and confirming these details at this point. We are being told that, uh, one of the gunmen involved in this, uh, in this incident, this shooting incident down at Dawson College has taken his own life. There’s also a report that a police officer has ended the life of one of those individuals. As many as four suspects involved. Reports that we’re getting that, uh, two individuals involved were carrying semi-automatic or what resembled semi-automatic weapons. Gunshots first rang out at about twelve forty-five this afternoon. We still have students that are barricaded within classrooms on various floors, the third and the seventh floor. Those are first-hand, uh, witness accounts that are coming in. Uh, students concerned, afraid, panicked perhaps, uh, waiting for police to wrap up this police situation and take the remaining suspects into custody so that they can, they can leave the school. 

After speaking to another reporter, Sabrina Marandola, in Montreal, CINW anchor Michael Dean provided another summary in which he again referred to the location of the students still barricaded within Dawson College: 

That is the latest from the scene. Uh, that, uh, we were also getting reports that there are other students, there were other students, uh, on the third floor and on the seventh floor. Sabrina just saying that the most recent evacuees from that, uh, from the school were on the sixth floor and that, uh, authorities were not even aware that they were there holed up. 

Michael Dean then reconnected with reporter Lisa Fiset. Their dialogue was in part as follows: 

Dean: Uh, Lisa, we heard reports about, uh, I’d say roughly fifteen to twenty minutes ago at most, that police were surprised to learn that there were still students holed up in a classroom, along with presumably a teacher or two on the sixth floor. Are you hearing anything further? We’re getting witness reports that there may be students still holed up on the seventh floor and on the third floor. And, if I’m not mistaken, the atrium cafeteria is on the second floor.

Fiset: Um, I’ve heard that there are still students inside the building as well. I’m hearing this from other kids who’ve been in contact, uh, with friends who are in, uh, still in the building. Uh, one girl said her friend was, uh, in the bathroom and had no intention of leaving until she was given the all clear. A few other students, uh, apparently barricaded in classrooms. Again, this is what I’m hearing from students who are on the scene. 

Following the exchange with Lisa Fiset, the anchor again referred to the students confined in the College: 

As you can see, it continues to be a very fluid situation. [.] We’re getting reports that there are still possibly students that are trapped in classrooms, barricaded within classrooms, fearing for their lives. Uh, this on the seventh floor. And we also spoke with someone on the third floor. 

 

The Complaint

On the day of the Dawson College rampage, a British Columbia listener sent a complaint to the CRTC, which forwarded it to the CBSC in due course. The pertinent part of the complaint was as follows (the full text of all of the relevant correspondence can be found in Appendix B): 

During the shooting incident at theMontreal College, the talk show host actually took a call of a student by cell phone who was held up with 24 others on the seventh floor while the gunman possibly was still in the building.

This, in a situation like this or in a terrorist situation, could have tipped the gunman to the whereabouts of the trapped people. This has to be stopped and regulations put in place in this type of situation as lives were put in jeopardy. 

Since it was unclear from the initial complaint which radio station the complainant was listening to, the CBSC asked for clarification. On September 18, the complainant sent four explanatory e-mails, which not only identified CKNW as the station on which he had heard the live news report, but also added a further gloss on his concerns about the substance of the live broadcast. 

I appreciate the protocol on how this might be handled; however, on issues like this, lives were potentially put into jeopardy.

Gunmen, like at Dawson College, and terrorists are very much publicity-driven and this radio host, by disclosing over the airwaves where the location of 24 students barracked [sic] on the 7th floor by a caller who was trapped with the others, was irresponsible. The gunman could have been listening as is [sic] if the worst happened the station would have been sued for criminal wrong-doing with little help to those who might have died.

I feel it is up to all those concerned to address these serious issues, as within a democracy freedom of speech is one thing, but even in a democratic country, having a freedom and potentially causing death by negligence are two different matters.

I beg you to take a pro-active stance in this issue, as this could develop to a tragedy [sic] in the future.

 [.]

 The gunman at this time had not yet been reported as being shot and killed, and there was still suspect [sic] that there were possibly a few gunmen, their motive unknown.

 [.]

 The caller stated there were 30-40 students in the “lab” on the 7th floor, several suspected gunners still at large.

Very upsetting how this was handled. 

 

The Broadcaster’s Reply 

On October 27, the Program Director at CKNW responded to the complainant, in principal part as follows: 

When this tragic event occurred, CKNW Vancouver began airing a live feed from our sister station 940 CINWMontreal. Within that coverage, as the station worked to provide the community with the latest information about the situation, many live calls were aired. One such call came from a student who, with her class, was barricaded inside a lab within the school. The student was calling for help, making sure the authorities knew of their whereabouts and that they were coming to their rescue.

Specifically, your concern is that by broadcasting this call, the lives of the students in the lab were put in danger as the gunman could have been listening and been alerted to their location.

We have reviewed the broadcast and we respectfully disagree that the students were put in further danger through the airing of this call and would make the assertion that the students’ ability to communicate their whereabouts from within the school would have helped expedite their rescue.

Covering live news events and emergencies for our communities is a role that we consider vital and take very seriously at Corus Radio. We consider it a privilege that our communities depend on us for important information in times of emergency. Please rest assured that this is a responsibility that we do not take lightly. Our managers, producers and hosts spend many hours on training and preparation for live news events to ensure that when news happens we broadcast to our community instantly, effectively and responsibly. 

The Ruling Request and Additional Correspondence

The complainant was not satisfied with the response and filed a Ruling Request with accompanying letter on November 2. In the letter, he added the following arguments:   

From the recent events that happened at Dawson College, one could argue that radio listeners might have been better informed in this type of crisis situation from more factual reporting than fielding live calls from people crying and family members wanting to know the whereabouts of their children who were there and possibly in danger however dramatic the broadcasting was to the radio audience.

It could also be said that it is no leap of the imagination to suspect that gunmen and terrorists might actually thrive on this publicity to promote their cause by attracting attention to their plight, as terrorist acts are often designed as theatre – as spectacular events with a dramatic content that spellbinds an audience, precisely the kind of story that attracts the media.

All that said, my main concern and objection to Corus Network’s response is that they actually see no wrong-doing by broadcasting live the whereabouts of the trapped students and actually perversely state that it might have expedited their escape. It must be remembered that at the time of the call from one of the trapped 40 students in the lab room that it was not known if this was a terrorist attack or an attack by several gunmen such as atColumbine School. It is reasonable to say that if there was any concern for the trapped students, the radio station might have stopped the call being broadcast and contacted the police and rescue forces off air with the location of the students to assist in their release. What if several gunmen or terrorists were actually listening to this broadcast and used it to their advantage for locating trapped people to kill or hold hostage; or possibly the gunman or terrorist organisations might have used the radio station to divert police or anti-terrorist forces away from their activities?

I am troubled that Corus Radio admits no responsibility in their broadcasting of the whereabouts of the barricaded students hiding from danger, but if the events unfolded differently in loss of lives would their response be the same? [.]

I therefore ask that this type of broadcasting be regulated in events such as gunmen and terrorist attacks, as these are serious and have dangerous outcomes for all individuals involved. I feel it is not enough for the Corus group or other media networks to apologize publicly, as these are very disturbing and serious matters in our current times.

I urgently recommend to the governing body that this response by the Corus Group be reviewed and acted upon by implementing policy with clear guidelines with substantial fines levied when violated. It is only this type of regulation that will keep broadcasters from acting irresponsible [sic] in similar tragic situations that might happen in the future. [.] 

THE DECISION 

The British Columbia Regional Panel examined the complaint under the following provision of the RTNDA Code of (Journalistic) Ethics.

RTNDA Code of (Journalistic) Ethics, Article 10 (Covering Violent Situations)

Reporting on criminal activities such as hostage-takings, prison uprisings or terrorist acts will be done in a fashion that does not knowingly endanger lives, offer comfort and support or provide vital information to the perpetrator(s). RTNDA members will contact neither victims nor perpetrators of a criminal activity during the course of the event for the purpose of conducting an interview that would interfere with a peaceful resolution.

The British Columbia Regional Panel Adjudicators read all of the correspondence and listened to the challenged segment. The Panel concludes that the broadcast violated the aforementioned Code provision.

Breaking News Coverage

Technology has facilitated the coverage of news events in the 21st century, both as to speed and scope. It is perhaps an irony of that benefit that the coverage frequently overtakes the ability to draw accurate conclusions about events at a corresponding pace. Thus, in the Dawson College incident that is the subject of this decision, there was uncertainty as to the number of assailants, the number of the wounded and dead, the locations at which the shootings occurred, the clothes worn by the one shooter identified by a number of the interviewers and interviewees, the motivation for the rampage, and so on. In the result, some if not much of the information reported was described as “unconfirmed”. That was to be expected; despite that absence of unverifiable hard fact, reporters appeared to be careful in their description of events, whether by tone or word choice. Their goal was, after all, to provide up-to-the-instant information, as accurately as time and circumstance permitted.

Thus, although the Panel noted the chaos, confusion and inaccuracy of information at the start of this decision, it did so not to criticize the broadcaster, but in order to re-establish for readers the context for the issue that is of concern to it.

The Applicable Article 

The Panel has two technical difficulties with the wording of Article 10 of the RTNDA Code of (Journalistic) Ethics. The first relates to the title of the article, “Covering Violent Activities”, which does not seem to gibe with the wording of the article. The substance of its text is clearly limited to “reporting on criminal activities”. Violent activities could include a broad range of natural calamities, such as the tsunami of December 2004 or accidental occurrences, such as airline or railroad crashes; those are not, however, the anticipated target of the article. The wording makes it clear that the article is meant to apply to the coverage of criminal activities, and that is what the B.C. Regional Panel is facing in the challenged broadcast. In any event, it is fair to say that the Panel would not see the errant title as having any bearing on its interpretation of the article itself; however, the Panel does find it useful, if not interpretively critical, to make this observation. 

The second concern is of greater moment, since it could have a bearing on the meaning of the article. This relates to the use of the term “peaceful resolution” at the end of the second paragraph. The Panel considers that the codifiers of the amended Code in 2000 intended that the concern of the RTNDA was with journalists taking any measures that could interfere with the successful, but not necessarily peaceful, resolution of a criminal activity or enterprise. A peaceful resolution suggests a negotiated or agreed conclusion, which would seem to be the antithesis of, for example, an assault by law enforcement authorities. The Panel concludes that the RTNDA codifiers were at least as concerned by the prospect of a journalistic step or intrusion that could interfere with a police effort to end a hostage-taking or other criminal activity as they were with an interference with a negotiated conclusion. It is on the basis of this interpretation of that codified standard that the present decision is rendered. 

 

The Revelation of Dangerous Detail

In the 21st century, technology has shrunk the global village. Technology has so expanded communication possibilities and compressed distances that the tasks of perpetrators of violent acts have been greatly facilitated.For example, their criminal acts can be planned from far away. They can even be executed remotely. Criminals can also co-ordinate their actions when separated by thousands of kilometres, continents or oceans, both at the planning and execution stages. With small, if not tiny, digital cameras, as well as cell phones with still and video camera functions, they can monitor events as they occur. In short, criminals have extended the importance of Article 10 in the unfolding dramas of all sorts of modern nefarious activities. In the result, technology has created new risks for the public in the reporting of criminal activities such as hostage-takings, prison uprisings or terrorist acts. Broadcasters must be scrupulously thoughtful about the information they air, in order to ensure that they do not either knowingly or carelessly endanger the lives of innocents or provide vital information to the perpetrator(s).

In the context of the Dawson College shooting, as noted above, it was a good eight hours after the first shots before even the police knew that they had been dealing with a single assailant (who, as things turned out, had died fairly early in the shooting spree). In fact, during much of the period of terror, neither the police nor the media knew how many perpetrators were present in the College, much less whether they had any colleagues on the outside co-ordinating activities or whether the on-the-spot perpetrators were themselves tracking electronically accessible information.

On this issue, the BC Panel finds it instructive to look at Guidelines created by the American equivalent of the RTNDA, namely, the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA International). While their Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct differs in presentation and enforcement from the Canadian RTNDA’s Code, the principles established in both are similar. RTNDA International does, however, have a set of Ethics Guidelines, which are meant to be supplementary to their Code and illustratively pertinent. The BC Panel finds them useful and pertinent references.

By way of example, RTNDA International states in its Ethics Guidelines (in the section on “Covering Hostage-Taking Crises, Police Raids, Prison Uprisings, Terrorist Actions”), “Always assume that the hostage taker, gunman or terrorist has access to the reporting.” Those Guidelines also counsel broadcast journalists to “[a]void describing with words or showing with still photography and video any information that could divulge the tactics or positions of SWAT team members.” The BC Regional Panel considers it at least as serious to avoid describing any information that could divulge the positions of potential victims, who are, needless to say, far less able to protect themselves against gunmen than SWAT teams would be. If the danger to law enforcement tactics and positions is problematic, so too is the danger to the security and lives of members of the public.

The Panel notes that the broadcaster not only aired live telephone calls with trapped students but that it also repeated, no less than four times, the locations of those students in the building. The Panel is not suggesting that the station ought not to have either taken or broadcast those cell phone calls from the frightened trapped students. Indeed, it is fortunate that the students were able to access the broadcasters as a potential lifeline. The broadcaster ought never, however, to have permitted that part of those calls (the students’ locations) to go to air.They should have funnelled such information to the police but they ought never to have revealed to the world at large the third and seventh floor locations, the number of students there, and their method of barricading or protecting themselves. Nor should they have revealed those details on air in summaries by the anchor or the reporters thereafter. The consequences might, as the complainant validly assumed, have been lethal.Broadcasters must always assume that the perpetrators have access to the information they report.

In slightly different, but analogous, circumstances, dealt with in Global Television re Global National (Kidnapping Report) (CBSC Decision 03/04-0324, December 15, 2004), Wilf Dinnick reported on the case of Amanda Stamp, who had gone missing from her home in Toronto. Dinnick reported that the woman had allegedly been kidnapped by her estranged boyfriend, who had abducted their child a few months before. After a brief interview withOntario’s Corrections Services Minister, the reporter presented a new twist to the story, which was the sighting of Stamp at a convenience store, which he had picked up by the monitoring of a police scanner. Accompanying that part of the report was a video clip showing police officers at the convenience store in question which was described as being in Brampton, Ontario. A voice-over informed viewers that “Just this morning, a woman walked into this convenience store, bought hygiene products, and on her way out tells the cashier she’s Amanda Stamp.She [the cashier] should call 911.” The broadcaster included shots of the store’s interior and exterior while the reporter commented that a surveillance video had also captured pictures of the vehicle. As in the matter at hand, a viewer complained that this report put Stamp’s life in danger. The National Conventional Television Panel agreed:

In the matter at hand, the report that Amanda Stamp had been in a quite specific location and had advised a cashier at a store who she was and that the cashier should call 911 was, it seems clear to the Panel, an endangering bit of news. Had the abductor been watching television at the moment of the newscast and learned of what Stamp had said, he may well have taken retributive action. That would have been a tragic outcome, which is clearly what the Code article sought to avoid. It goes without saying it would be no defence to say that “other media outlets had already reported it.” It is surely the obligation of each news medium to determine what does, or does not, reflect their industry’s standards. It is clear that each broadcaster would have to arrive at such a determination for itself. In the present instance, Global Television has breached the codified standard established in Article 10 of the RTNDA Code of (Journalistic) Ethics. 

In the Dawson College situation, the BC Panel concludes that the live broadcast of details relating to the location of the students in the building in the midst of the unresolved shooting crisis constituted a breach of Article 10 of the RTNDA Code of (Journalistic) Ethics.

It also observes that it would have been pertinent to apply its conclusions to CINW-AM, the Corus sister station in Montreal, as well as to any other Corus stations running the challenged portion of the live feed. The CBSC’s procedures do not, however, permit such a conclusion. In the circumstances, no complaint having been received from a Montreal listener, the Panel confines the requirements of its conclusions to the Corus Vancouver station, with respect to which it did receive the complaint with which this decision has dealt. Moreover, since all CBSC members are bound by the principles established in all CBSC decisions, the Panel recognizes that the reach of the conclusions will mandate the application of the principles established here in all Corus and other broadcaster newsrooms.

 

Broadcaster Responsiveness 

The CBSC always assesses the broadcaster’s responsiveness to the complainant, which is a responsibility of membership in the Council. It expects that response to be thoughtful and focussed on the substance of the complaint. In the matter at hand, while the Panel disagrees with the conclusions reached by the Program Director, it considers that his response constitutes a sufficient reply to fulfill CKNW’s obligation of responsiveness on this occasion. 

 

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE DECISION 

CKNW-AM is required to: 1) announce the decision, in the following terms, once during peak listening hours within three days following the release of this decision and once more within seven days following the release of this decision during the time period in which the breaking news story was broadcast; 2) within the fourteen days following the broadcasts of the announcements, to provide written confirmation of the airing of the statement to the complainant who filed the Ruling Request; and 3) at that time, to provide the CBSC with a copy of that written confirmation and with air check copies of the broadcasts of the two announcements which must be made by CKNW-AM. 

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has found that CKNW-AM breached Article 10 of the Radio-Television News Directors Association of Canada Code of (Journalistic) Ethics in its broadcast of a live news feed from Montreal on September 13, 2006. During the Dawson College shooting on that day, CKNW broadcast live cell phone interviews with individuals who revealed where students had barricaded themselves in the College and repeated that information while the rampage was continuing. Consequently, the CBSC has concluded that the broadcaster breached the Code article that requires that news reporting ought not to endanger lives, provide vital information to the perpetrators or potentially interfere with the successful resolution of the matter being reported.

 

This decision is a public document upon its release by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.