CKCO-DT (CTV Kitchener) concernant un reportage diffusé à CTV News at Six (Conversation inconvenante)

Comité décideur anglophone
Décision CCNR 14/15-1508
2016 CCNR 3
7 avril 2016
A. Noël (Présidente), D. Braun, C. Cowie, S. Crawford, J. Doobay, P.C. Fleming

LES FAITS

Le 15 juillet 2015, CTV Kitchener (CKCO-DT) diffusait à son bulletin de nouvelles de 18 h un reportage concernant une enseignante du secondaire, accusée d’avoir tenu des propos déplacés de nature sexuelle avec un élève de 16 ans. Le titre du reportage, « Inappropriate Conversation » (Conversation inconvenante), est apparu à l’écran. On apprenait que les accusations avaient été retirées, la preuve n’étant pas suffisante pour justifier un procès. La journaliste a déclaré : [traduction] « la preuve d’une conversation à connotation sexuelle entre l’enseignante et son élève a été suffisante pour que le juge lui ordonne de quitter son emploi ».

Le reportage s’est poursuivi avec des informations tirées de l’Exposé conjoint des faits, présenté à la cour avec le consentement de l’accusée et de la Couronne. On y citait des passages d’une conversation échangée entre l’enseignante et l’élève sur le site web du réseau social Facebook.

Le reportage comportait aussi des extraits d’une entrevue téléphonique avec un représentant de l’Ordre des enseignantes et des enseignants de l’Ontario, qui a confirmé la démission de l’enseignante. Le représentant a déclaré qu’on s’attend à ce que les enseignants affichent un comportement professionnel aussi bien en ligne que dans la communauté.

À la fin du reportage, on apprenait que l’enseignante avait reçu l’interdiction de communiquer avec l’élève, sous peine d’être [traduction] « accusée à nouveau ».

Le même sujet a été repris au bulletin de 23 h 30, sous un nouveau titre : Accusations retirées. Cette fois la journaliste a indiqué que l’enseignante n’était plus à l’emploi de la commission scolaire locale. À la fin du segment, la journaliste a ajouté [traduction] : « l’avocat informe CTV que sa cliente a pris d’elle-même la décision de démissionner et que, pour se conformer à son engagement de ne pas troubler l’ordre public, elle n’est plus autorisée à contacter le plaignant, procédure considérée comme normale dans ce genre de cas ».

Le lendemain 16 juillet, CTV Kitchener a diffusé un rectificatif au bulletin de 18 h. Le présentateur des nouvelles a informé les téléspectateurs que CTV avait commis une erreur en rapportant que l’enseignante avait été forcée par la cour de démissionner, alors que [traduction] « en réalité, c’est de son propre chef qu’elle a démissionné de l’Ordre des enseignantes et des enseignants de l’Ontario et s’est engagée à ne pas redevenir membre. Sa démission n’est pas reliée à son engagement de ne pas troubler l’ordre public, ou à une quelconque ordonnance de la cour. On apprend toutefois qu’elle aurait été un facteur important dans la résolution de l’affaire. » (La transcription et la description des trois bulletins se trouvent à l’annexe A, disponible en anglais seulement.)

L’enseignante concernée a déposé une plainte auprès du CCNR le 1er août. Sa plainte porte sur le reportage diffusé le 15 juillet à 18 h, entaché, selon elle, par des erreurs de fait et une absence de vérification. Elle fait remarquer que la journaliste n’était pas dans la salle du tribunal au moment de l’audience, et qu’elle s’est fiée aux informations transmises par la Couronne. Elle signale que CTV n’a pas sollicité ses commentaires ni ceux de son avocat. Bien qu’elle ait démissionné volontairement de l’Ordre des enseignants, le reportage a déclaré à tort que sa démission avait été ordonnée par la cour. Elle déplore aussi que le reportage ait prétendu que si elle tentait d’entrer en contact avec le jeune homme, les mêmes accusations seraient reprises, alors qu’elle serait tout simplement accusée d’avoir manqué à son engagement à ne pas troubler la paix. Tout en reconnaissant que CTV Kitchener a modifié son récit au bulletin de 23 h 30, elle déplore que les deux reportages aient présenté sa démission comme s’il s’agissait d’un « arrangement hors cour » alors qu’en réalité, l’accusation a bel et bien été levée.

La réponse de CTV Kitchener à la plaignante est datée du 19 août. La station reconnaît ne pas avoir pris contact avec l’enseignante ou son avocat avant de diffuser son bulletin de 18 h, n’ayant pas pu obtenir leurs coordonnées. Le télédiffuseur convient que la nouvelle de la démission ordonnée par un juge était inexacte. Il note que l’enseignante a appelé la station à la suite du bulletin de 18 h pour rectifier les faits. La station s’est empressée de modifier son reportage pour le bulletin de 23 h 30 de manière à respecter l’exactitude des faits, et a diffusé un rectificatif au bulletin du lendemain. CTV Kitchener est d’avis que toutes les autres informations contenues dans le reportage étaient conformes aux faits, puisqu’elles étaient tirées du texte de l’Exposé conjoint des faits. CTV Kitchener écrit que l’enseignante a été invitée à donner sa propre version des faits, mais qu’elle a décliné. D’après la lettre de CTV, l’avocat de l’enseignante avait vérifié le texte du rectificatif avant qu’il ne soit mis en ondes et s’en était déclaré satisfait.

L’enseignante a déposé sa demande de décision le 21 août ainsi qu’une lettre, le 23 août, dans laquelle elle se dit encore préoccupée par la façon dont CTV a couvert l’affaire. Elle reprend, dans la lettre du télédiffuseur, les points avec lesquels elle est en désaccord. Dans l’ensemble, elle a l’impression que la couverture a été [traduction] « biaisée, injuste et de nature éditoriale », mais surtout « sensation­naliste ». Malgré la mise au point concernant sa démission, elle est d’avis que le reportage donne à penser qu’elle est coupable. Il y avait d’autres erreurs que CTV n’a pas corrigées, notamment la notion qu’elle pourrait être à nouveau poursuivie pour les mêmes motifs si elle tentait d’entrer en contact avec l’élève. Elle se plaint que le reportage n’ait pas expliqué en quoi consiste un engagement à ne pas troubler la paix publique, présenté comme s’il s’agissait d’une transaction pénale. Elle estime que toute l’histoire a été déformée pour donner l’impression qu’un crime avait été commis, en montrant la journaliste plantée devant l’école où elle travaillait et en traitant l’affaire comme une des grandes nouvelles du jour. Même si CTV a noté que la démission de l’enseignante avait été un facteur dans la décision du juge de ne pas entamer de poursuite, la plaignante déplore que CTV ait omis de mentionner l’autre facteur, à savoir les répercussions néfastes de l’affaire sur son état de santé à elle.

CTV Kitchener a fait parvenir un complément d’information au CCNR le 18 janvier 2016. Dans cette lettre, le radiodiffuseur répète qu’il a modifié le reportage pour la diffusion de 23 h 30 le 15 juillet ainsi que diffusé un rectificatif le 16 juillet concernant le motif de démission de la plaignante. Il dit avoir offert plusieurs fois à l’enseignante de donner sa propre version des faits, mais en vain. Il affirme que son reportage n’était aucunement biaisé ou sensationnaliste, et qu’il reposait sur des documents de cour que lui avaient remis la Couronne et l’avocat de la plaignante. Ces rapports mentionnaient clairement que les accusations avaient été abandonnées. (La correspondance complète figure dans l’annexe B, en anglais seulement.)

LA DÉCISION

Le Comité décideur anglophone a étudié la plainte à la lumière des dispositions suivantes du Code de déontologie de l’Association canadienne des radiodiffuseurs (ACR) et du Code de déontologie de l’Association des services de nouvelles numériques et radiotélévisées du Canada (ASNNR) :

Code de déontologie de l’ACR, Article 5 – Nouvelles

  1. Il incombe aux radiotélédiffuseurs de présenter les nouvelles avec exactitude et impartialité. Ils doivent s’assurer que les dispositions qu’ils ont prises pour obtenir les nouvelles leur garantissent ce résultat. Ils doivent aussi faire en sorte que leurs émissions de nouvelles n’aient pas le caractère d’un éditorial.

Code de déontologie de l’ACR, Article 6 – Présentation complète, juste et appropriée

C’est un fait reconnu que la tâche première et fondamentale de chaque radiotélédiffuseur est de présenter des nouvelles, des points de vue, des commentaires ou des textes éditoriaux d’une manière complète, juste et appropriée. Ce principe s’applique à toute la programmation de la radio et de la télévision, qu’il s’agisse des nouvelles, des affaires publiques, d’un magazine, d’une émission‑débat, d’une émission téléphonique, d’entrevues ou d’autres formules de radiotélévision dans lesquelles des nouvelles, des points de vue, des commentaires ou des éditoriaux peuvent être exprimés par les employés du radiotélédiffuseur, leurs invités ou leurs interlocuteurs.

Code de déontologie de l’ASNNR, Article 1 – Exactitude

Les journalistes des services électroniques fourniront une information précise, complète et juste concernant des événements et des enjeux importants d’actualité.

Code de déontologie de l’ASNNR, Article 7 – Erreurs

Les erreurs seront admises rapidement et corrigées sur toutes les plateformes.

Les membres du comité décideur ont lu toute la correspondance afférente et visionné les trois diffusions pertinentes. Le comité conclut que CTV Kitchener a enfreint l’article 5 du Code de déontologie de l’ACR et l’article 1 du Code de déontologie de l’ASNNR en donnant une information inexacte concernant les circonstances de la démission de l’enseignante, mais qu’il a respecté l’article 7 du Code de déontologie de l’ASNNR en diffusant un rectificatif. Le comité conclut également qu’il n’y a pas eu infraction aux articles de code cités ci-dessus pour ce qui est de la présentation impartiale, juste et appropriée des nouvelles.

Exactitude et corrections

Bien que la plaignante ait plusieurs reproches à faire aux reportages, le comité estime que l’information inexacte concernant sa démission, dans le reportage du 15 juillet à 18 h, occupe une place prépondérante. Les membres du comité de décision en sont tous venus à la conclusion que cette inexactitude est, non pas simplement accessoire, mais centrale au récit, car elle détermine la façon dont les téléspectateurs pouvaient percevoir le dénouement de l’affaire. Il y a une énorme différence entre une démission volontaire et une démission ordonnée par un juge. La façon dont la journaliste a campé son reportage communique nettement l’impression que la démission a été ordonnée comme condition préalable à l’abandon de la poursuite.

Or, ce n’était pas le cas.

Les membres du comité décideur ont été unanimes à souligner le manque de rigueur et de diligence raisonnable dans ce reportage. Les journalistes doivent toujours s’assurer de l’exactitude des faits avant d’en faire part en ondes, particulièrement lorsqu’il y va de la réputation d’une personne. Dans le cas présent, les faits n’ont pas été suffisamment vérifiés et l‘information était inexacte; ainsi, le télédiffuseur a contrevenu à l’article 5 du Code de déontologie de l’ACR concernant les nouvelles et à l’article 1 du Code de déontologie de l’ASNNR concernant l’exactitude1.

De par sa nature même, le compte rendu d’une nouvelle comporte un risque d’inexactitude et, pour cette raison, l’article 7 du Code de déontologie de l’ASNNR prévoit que les inexactitudes soient corrigées rapidement. Dans le cas présent, le comité a eu à décider si les erreurs avaient été corrigées rapidement.

Informé de l’erreur contenue dans le reportage de 18 h, le radiodiffuseur s’est empressé de la corriger dans son bulletin de soirée à 23 h 30 en commençant par lui donner un nouveau titre : Accusations retirées. Les membres du comité s’entendent pour dire que le deuxième reportage traduit les faits et qu’il est exact pour l’essentiel, quoiqu’il ne mentionne pas que l’information était erronée dans la diffusion précédente.

Le lendemain, au cours du bulletin de 18 h, le télédiffuseur a diffusé un rectificatif dans lequel il reconnaissait avoir rapporté par erreur que la démission de la plaignante avait été ordonnée par un juge.

Le comité décideur constate que l’inexactitude a été reconnue et corrigée dans les 24 heures, ce qui correspond à l’esprit de l’article 7 du Code de déontologie de l’ASNNR, qui déclare que « les erreurs seront admises rapidement et corrigées sur toutes les plateformes ».

Bien qu’il s’agisse d’un point mineur, il faut noter que la prompte diffusion d’un correctif conformément à l’article 7 du Code de l’ASNNR n’efface pas pour autant l’infraction originale à l’article 1er de ce même Code et à l’article 5 du Code de l’ACR.

Équité, partialité et sensationnalisme

La plaignante est d’avis que le reportage dans son ensemble était biaisé dans la mesure où le télédiffuseur n’a pas cité toutes les raisons pour lesquelles l’accusation a été retirée, et qu’il visait surtout le sensationnalisme.

Le comité a examiné très attentivement les bulletins en question. Le comité estime qu’il s’agissait d’accusations graves : une enseignante, c’est-à-dire une personne en situation d’autorité, aurait tenté d’exploiter sexuellement un mineur. La résolution d’une telle accusation était certainement une nouvelle d’intérêt pour le public et pour la communauté locale. Le comité note que le reportage comprenait des informations sur la procédure judiciaire qui ne donnent pas une très bonne impression de la plaignante. Il y avait peut-être d’autres façons de rapporter la nouvelle sans projeter sur la plaignante un éclairage aussi défavorable. Il reste que les radiodiffuseurs sont en droit de présenter leurs récits comme bon leur semble. Dans ce cas, on s’est servi d’informations consignées dans l’Exposé conjoint des faits pour faire comprendre qu’il y a eu des conversations déplacées, ce qui peut effectivement avoir donné une impression négative de la plaignante; cela ne constitue pas pour autant du sensationnalisme ou de la partialité.

La plaignante déplore que le télédiffuseur ait choisi de faire figurer cette histoire parmi les nouvelles du jour. Comme il est dit plus haut, le comité estime que les accusations étaient suffisamment graves pour justifier qu’on en parle aux nouvelles. Quoique le comité considère que la journaliste aurait pu accoler plus souvent le qualificatif « présumé » à sa description des motifs d’accusation, il croit que cette histoire ne pouvait pas être prise à la légère. Le comité ne trouve donc pas que le télédiffuseur a fait preuve de sensationnalisme en plaçant ce reportage parmi les principales nouvelles.

Quant aux raisons pour l’abandon de la poursuite, la nouvelle corrigée précisait que les accusations avaient été retirées et que la démission de la plaignante de l’Ordre des enseignantes et des enseignants de l’Ontario avait compté comme [traduction] « un facteur important dans la résolution de l’affaire ». La plaignante soutient que cela n’a pas été l’unique facteur et que sa santé mentale a constitué un facteur tout aussi important.

Les membres du comité décideur notent que les reportages parlent de « facteur important », ce qui laisse entendre qu’il y avait d’autres facteurs. Le comité reconnaît que les radiodiffuseurs ont le droit de choisir les éléments d’information qu’ils souhaitent transmettre avec leur reportage et qu’on ne peut pas s’attendre à ce qu’ils mentionnent tous les faits et toutes les facettes d’un récit dans chaque reportage, sauf si les faits passés sous silence ont directement influencé le récit et que leur omission risque de déformer l’information2.

Le Comité est d’avis qu’en disant que la démission a compté comme « un facteur important dans la résolution de l’affaire », même sans mentionner la santé mentale de la plaignante comme autre facteur dans la décision de la Couronne de retirer les accusations, le radiodiffuseur n’a pas violé l’article 6 du Code de déontologie de l’ACR concernant la présentation complète, juste et appropriée.

Réceptivité du télédiffuseur

Dans toutes les décisions rendues par le CCNR, ses comités évaluent dans quelle mesure le radiodiffuseur s’est montré réceptif envers le plaignant. Bien que le radiodiffuseur ne soit certes pas obligé de partager l’opinion du plaignant, sa réponse doit être courtoise, réfléchie et complète. Dans la présente affaire, CTV Kitchener a fait parvenir une longue lettre à la plaignante, lui expliquant comment le reportage avait été préparé, reconnaissant son erreur, défendant d’autres éléments du reportage et offrant à la plaignante la chance de raconter son histoire sur les ondes. Puisque ce télédiffuseur a rempli son obligation de se montrer réceptif, il n’y a pas lieu d’en exiger davantage de sa part.

L’ANNONCE DE LA DÉCISION

Comme il est dit plus haut, CTV Kitchener a diffusé le 16 juillet un rectificatif dans lequel il reconnaissait l’erreur diffusée au bulletin de nouvelles de la veille. Dans d’autres instances où le radiodiffuseur a reconnu son erreur ou s’est excusé en ondes d’avoir utilisé du matériel enfreignant un code, le CCNR n’a pas exigé que la station diffuse l’annonce habituelle de la décision du CCNR3. Le comité décideur anglophone estime que CTV Kitchener a pris les mesures nécessaires pour corriger l’erreur commise, en conséquence de quoi l’annonce de la décision du CCNR ne sera pas exigée.

La présente décision devient un document public dès sa publication par le Conseil canadien des normes de la radiotélévision.

1 Voir les décisions suivantes du CCNR qui portent sur l’inexactitude dans des bulletins de nouvelles : CITV-TV concernant « You Paid for It! » (immigration) (Décision CCNR 95/96-0088, 16 décembre 1997); TVA concernant J.E. (Entreprises Pendragon) (Décision CCNR 97/98-0390, 14 août 1998); CIII-TV (Global Ontario) concernant des reportages de Global News (« Danger aux Falaises ») (Décision CCNR 05/06-0500, 18 mai 2006); CKWX-AM concernant des reportages au sujet de SkyTrain (Décision CCNR 06/07-1127, 19 août 2008); CTV News Channel concernant deux reportages (« Nouveaux affrontements en Cisjordanie ») (Décision CCNR 12/13-1134, 7 août 2013)

22 CHAN-TV concernant un bulletin de nouvelles (Société de recyclage) (Décision CCNR 96/97-0004, 10 mars 1997); CTV concernant un reportage (alarmes de CO) (Décision CCNR 98/99-0475, 19 novembre 1999); TQS concernant un reportage diffusé dans le cadre du Grand Journal (« Mitrailleuse par la poste ») (Décision CCNR 05/06-0785 et -0800, 30 juin 2006); Global concernant un reportage diffusé dans le cadre de Global National (« Expulsion différée ») et CIVT-TV (CTV de la Colombie-Britannique) concernant un reportage diffusé dans le cadre de CTV News at Six (Décisions CCNR 07/08-1136 et -1135, 7 et 19 août 2008)

3 OMNI.1 concernant un épisode du Jimmy Swaggart Telecast (Décision CCNR 04/05-0097, 19 avril 2005); CIII-TV (Global Ontario) concernant un reportage diffusé dans le cadre de News Final (« Deux manifestations ») (Décision CCNR 07/08-1677, 22 octobre 2008); Sun News Network concernant The Source (Logements pour artistes à Edmonton) (Décision CCNR 10/11-2102 et -2124, 28 mars 2012)

APPENDIX A

CBSC Decision 14/15-1508

CKCO-DT (CTV Kitchener) re a report on CTV News at Six (“Inappropriate Conversation”)

The following report appeared in CTV Kitchener’s 6:00 pm newscast on July 15, 2015. The report aired from 18:02:45 to 18:05:10.

anchor Nancy Richards: A salacious Facebook conversation with a student cost a Cambridge high school teacher her job. But all the sex-related charges against 42-year-old [S. R.] have been dropped. CTV’s Nicole Lampa is at Preston High School in Cambridge where [R.] taught. Nicole, [R.] was about to head to trial. What happened?

Reporter Nicole Lampa, standing outside high school: Well, Nancy, in court today, the Crown conceded that there is not enough evidence to go ahead with the sex-related charges. However, there is enough evidence of a sexual conversation between a teacher and a student for a judge to order her to quit.

Lampa: [S. R.] used to be a teacher at [P.] High School, but was ordered to quit. [alternating photo of the teacher and exterior scene of high school] Today, the school board and the Ontario College of Teachers confirm she resigned earlier this month.

telephone interview with Brian Jamieson, Sr. Communications Officer, Ontario College of Teachers: According to our records, she’s listed as “[S. D.]” and she was first certified to teach in November 1997. Uh, and she has resigned effective, resigned her membership with the College effective July 9th.

Lampa: [exterior shot of Waterloo courthouse] According to the Agreed Statement of Facts heard in court today, [R.] had an inappropriate Facebook conversation with a 16-year-old student in the Spring of 2012. [close-up of female hands typing on a keyboard and using a mouse; blurred Facebook screen scrolling] At first the messages related to alcohol, then became sexual. [photo of teacher] When talking about a hot tub, [R.] asked if he was “more of a bathing suit guy or au naturel guy”, calling him “Young and cute” [quoted words from Facebook messages appear on screen under teacher’s photo]. There was also an indication that if [R.] knew the complainant while she was in high school, she would have given her left booby for a chance with him [quoted words on screen “Given my left booby for a chance with you.”] The court also heard in the course of their Facebook conversation, [R.] expressed she would not engage in any activity that could constitute criminal conduct and that any social interactions could not occur until after his 19th birthday [words on screen “In the course of their Facebook conversations Ms. [R.] expressed that she would not engage in activity that could constitute criminal conduct, and that any social interactions between herself and the complainant could not occur until after his 19th birthday” with label “Agreed Statement of Facts”] The Crown dropped all the charges against [R.], including sexual exploitation, invitation to sexual touching and two counts of luring via computer [scene of teacher speaking to another woman outside courthouse, taken from far away; exterior of courthouse] While the school board does not have any policies when it comes to teachers and social media, the Ontario College of Teachers say teachers, including [R.], should know the guidelines [scene of blurred Facebook screen; photo of teacher].

Jamieson: What we’re saying is whatever you would do in the, uh, in the community, uh, with respect to being professional and being seen as a professional, you should also do online.

Lampa [outside school]: Now [R.] is not allowed to communicate or contact the complainant. If she does over the next twelve months, she will be recharged. Nancy.

Richards: Nicole Lampa in Cambridge tonight.

CTV covered the story again during its 11:30 pm newscast with the title “Charges Dropped”.

anchor Marc Venema: A Cambridge teacher no longer faces sex-related charges, but 42-year-old [S. R.] will not be returning to her classroom at a local high school. CTV’s Nicole Lampa has this story tonight. Nicole, why were the charges dropped?

Lampa [in newsroom]: Marc, in the Agreed Statement of Facts it says the Crown does not have enough evidence to prove the case, but it does indicate [R.] had an online conversation of a sexual nature with a 16-year-old student. [photo of teacher] After being a certified teacher for 18 years, [S. R.] resigned earlier this month from the Ontario College of Teachers.

telephone interview with Brian Jamieson, Sr. Communications Officer, Ontario College of Teachers: According to our records, she’s listed as “[S. D.]” and she was first certified to teach in November 1997. Uh, and she has resigned effective, resigned her membership with the College effective July 9th.

Lampa: Two years ago, [R.] faced a number of sex-related offences when she was a social studies teacher at [P.] High School in Cambridge [scene of teacher speaking to another woman outside courthouse, taken from far away; exterior of high school]. In court today, the Crown dropped all of them, including sexual exploitation, invitation to sexual touching and two counts of luring via computer [exterior of Waterloo courthouse; words on screen: “[S. R.]: Charges Dropped – sexual exploitation, – Invitation to sexual touching, – Two counts of luring via computer”] In the Agreed Statement of Facts, it says “The Crown is not in a position to prove that in communicating with the complainant Ms. [R.] had the specific intent required to establish the offences … [quoted words appear on screen with label “Agreed Statement of Facts”] But, according to the court document, [R.] had a flirtatious Facebook conversation with a 16-year-old student in the Spring of 2012 [close-up of female hands typing on a keyboard and a blurred Facebook screen]. At first, the messages related to alcohol, then became sexual [scrolling computer screen, photo of teacher] When talking about a hot tub, [R.] asked if he was “more of a bathing suit guy or au naturel guy”, calling him “Young and cute” [quoted words from Facebook messages appear on screen under teacher’s photo]. There was also an indication that if [R.] knew the complainant while she was in high school, she would have given her left booby for a chance with him [quoted words on screen “Given my left booby for a chance with you.”] The Agreed Statement of Facts goes on to say, in the course of their Facebook conversation, [R.] expressed she would not engage in any activity that would constitute criminal conduct and that any social interactions could not occur until after his 19th birthday [words on screen “In the course of their Facebook conversations Ms. [R.] expressed that she would not engage in activity that could constitute criminal conduct, and that any social interactions between herself and the complainant could not occur until after his 19th birthday” with label “Agreed Statement of Facts”] The Waterloo District School Board confirms [R.] is no longer an employee [photo of teacher] The Board says it does not have any policies in regards to teachers and social media; however, the Ontario College of Teachers says guidelines are in place for their members [scene of Facebook screen with blurred out identifying info]

Jamieson: What we’re saying is whatever you would do in the, uh, in the community, uh, with respect to being professional and being seen as a professional, you should also do online.

Lampa: [R.]’s lawyer tells CTV that his client made the decision to resign on her own and, as part of the peace bond she entered into, [R.] is not allowed to contact the complainant, which is usual in these types of cases. Marc.

Venema: CTV’s Nicole Lampa reporting live in our newsroom. Thank you, Nicole.

The following day, July 16, during the 6:00 pm newscast, CTV Kitchener aired the following correction:

Venema: Yesterday, we reported Cambridge teacher [S. R.] had a number of sex-related charges against her dropped. We had indicated [R.] was ordered by the judge to resign. We wish to clarify that, in fact, she resigned voluntarily from the Ontario College of Teachers and has undertaken not to reapply. Her resignation was not a term or condition of the peace bond, nor part of any court order. However, we are advised that it was an important factor in the resolution of this matter.

APPENDIX B

CBSC Decision 14/15-1508

CKCO-DT (CTV Kitchener) re a report on CTV News at Six (“Inappropriate Conversation”)

The Complaint

The following complaint was submitted via the CBSC’s webform on August 1, 2015:

Television or Radio Station: CKCO CTV Kitchener
Name of the program: CTV local news
Date of Program: July 15, 2015
Time of Program: 6:00

Comments:
Covered a report concerning me which was factually flawed and without verification. No reporter was in the court room when I had all charges against me withdrawn and I entered into a peace bond. No one contacted my lawyer or myself and instead stated in a very one-sided account that I was ordered to resign (which I wasn’t), and that if I broke the bond I would be recharged for the crime (not true as it was withdrawn in its totality). When I spoke with news director [K. W.], she said they had a deadline and didn’t have time to verify. I demanded they take it off their site as it was defamatory. They “tweaked” the 11 o’clock but still presented my resignation as a plea deal. There was no plea, yet they refused to acknowledge that my resignation, and the toll on my mental health due to the experience, were factors NOT conditions. This is the information provided to the news from the crown: “Following yesterday’s court appearance, I received a telephone call from Nadia Matos to inquire as to what had transpired as she was not present in court at the time the matter was dealt with. I agreed to provide Ms. Matos with a copy of the agreed statement of facts that was read in during the proceedings and advised that the charges had been withdrawn after Ms. [R.] entered into a peace bond. I further provided Ms. Matos with the terms of the peace bond, which is in effect for a period of 12 months. The terms are that she is to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and not have any contact with two complainants, whose names were subject to a publication ban. I further indicated that Ms. [R.] had resigned and undertaken not to reapply, which was an important factor in the Crown taking the position that it did. This fact was also stated in court, on the record. Her resignation was not and is not a term or condition of the peace bond, nor are they part of any court order.” This is NOT the inference presented by CTV.

Broadcaster Response

The station responded on August 19:

Your correspondence to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) concerning a CTV Kitchener report on July 15, 2015 has been forwarded to my attention for reply.

On July 15th, during the 6pm newscast, the station aired a story about the dropping of a number of sexually related charges against you, in relation to inappropriate Facebook conversations you had with a former 16-year-old student in 2012. The report indicated that the Crown had conceded that there was not enough evidence to proceed with the various charges.

The story included details from the Agreed Statement of Facts, prior court appearances, notes from a telephone conversation with Crown Attorney [S. M.] and a telephone conversation with Brian Jamieson from the Ontario College of Teachers. You correctly state that CTV Kitchener was not in court to witness the proceeding.

Crown Attorney [S. M.] notified our reporters about the Peace Bond and agreed to provide us with the Agreed Statement of Facts. You are correct in stating that our reporter did not contact you or your lawyer prior to airing the report. However, CTV Kitchener tried to do so, but was unable to locate a telephone number for you or obtain your lawyer’s name. As such, we dispute your suggestion that we didn’t have time to verify before deadline.

CTV Kitchener believed that the Agreed Statement of Facts presented in court was accurate and representative of what the parties had agreed to. We believe that our general reporting on the case and the Agreed Statement was completely factual and accurate.

We also attempted to confirm the details regarding your resignation from the Ontario College of Teachers. Unfortunately, as a result of a misrepresentation of information given to our reporter by the Crown attorney, we erroneously reported that you had been ordered to resign by the judge.

As you are aware, you contacted the station immediately after the broadcast to indicate your concerns about the story, complaining that it contained erroneous information regarding your resignation. You advised us that your resignation was not court ordered and was voluntary on your part. We also contacted your lawyer via e-mail – he responded, also stating your resignation was voluntary. Since it was too late to confirm this information with the Crown, we accepted your position and deleted the online report and omitted any reference to your resignation being court ordered in our late night newscast at 11:30 pm. Your resignation was never presented as a part of the plea agreement in our late night newscast as you suggest in your complaint.

We also indicated in the tag to that report that your lawyer had advised CTV that you made the decision to resign on your own.

As well, you were offered the opportunity to provide your position prior to our late night newscast. You declined an on-camera interview or a recorded telephone interview.

As you are aware, you then contacted the station again the following day on a number of occasions. While you indicated that you felt the late night story was accurate, you were still not pleased with the original coverage and requested a clarification to be issued in regards to the resignation issue. CTV Kitchener again offered you the opportunity to comment. You indicated that you would consider doing an interview, but not that day. More importantly, we advised you that we would be seeking confirmation from the Crown regarding the resignation issue and would get back to you.

Accordingly, CTV Kitchener obtained the audio recording of court proceedings and corresponded again with the Crown Attorney to confirm whether or not your resignation was voluntary as you had indicated.

As you indicate in your correspondence, the Crown confirmed in writing that you had resigned and had undertaken not to reapply and that this was an important factor in the Crown taking the position that it did. She also indicated that “this fact was also stated in court, on the record.” And that “your resignation was not and is not a term or condition of the peace bond, nor are they part of any court order.”

With this information, CTV Kitchener prepared and aired the following fulsome clarification (as requested) in our broadcast of July 16th, the following day, at the same time the original story aired, clarifying that the resignation was voluntary and not a term or condition of the peace bond or court ordered (as highlighted below).

Yesterday, we reported Cambridge teacher [S. R.] had a number of sex-related charges against her … dropped. We had indicated [R.] was ordered by the judge to resign. We wish to clarify that, in fact, she resigned voluntarily from the Ontario College of Teachers and has undertaken not to reapply. Her resignation was not a term or condition of the peace bond, nor part of any court order. However, we are advised that it was an important fact in the resolution of this matter. (emphasis added)

As I am sure you are aware, your lawyer again contacted CTV Kitchener on July 16th requesting that our station stop contacting you directly. Accordingly, prior to airing this clarification, CTV Kitchener contacted your lawyer, read him the clarification and asked if he felt this addressed your concerns with the original story. He stated it was satisfactory. The station also requested Mr. [W., your lawyer] contact you on our behalf to ensure you were informed and you were satisfied. Mr. [W.] agreed.

We believe our prompt attention to this matter was completely in accordance with the Code of Conduct of the Radio and Television Digital News Association of Canada which states the following in regard to errors:

“Errors will be quickly acknowledged and publicly corrected on all platforms.”

While we regret that an error was made in the first newscast of July 15th at 6 pm, we believe that CTV Kitchener acted in a professional and appropriate manner in correcting the inadvertent mistake in a prompt fashion for our next broadcast. We also believe we went above and beyond by airing a detailed clarification the following day to alert our viewers who had watched the previous newscast.

CTV Kitchener is a member in good standing of the CBSC and adheres to all codes and guidelines administered by the CBSC.

Additional Correspondence

The complainant submitted her Ruling Request on August 21:

As per the response, there are a number of statements that I do not concur with. First: “However, CTV Kitchener tried to do so, but was unable to locate a telephone number for you or obtain your lawyer’s name. As such, we dispute your suggestion that we didn’t have time to verify before deadline.” [The News Director] stated in my initial phone call with her that she had a deadline and did not have time to verify. Also, my lawyer’s name was on record from previous appearances. In fact, a reporter had asked my lawyer and I [sic] to say something on camera in December 2014. Two other reporters contacted my lawyer on July 15th without any problems. Furthermore, I am in the phone book.

Second: “You advised us that your resignation was not court ordered and was voluntary on your part.” I also contested that you reported I would be charged again, implying for the original charges, if I broke the peace bond rather than I would be charged with breaking the peace bond. There is a huge difference between those charges.

Third: “Your resignation was never presented as part of the plea agreement in our late night newscast as you suggest in your complaint.” There WAS NO plea agreement and that is the issue I have with the way that you suggested there was.

Fourth: “You indicated that you would consider doing an interview, but not that day.” I never stated that; I said I would come to speak off record. After your report I have no faith in your ability to produce a balanced report and feel that you purposely presented it in that way so that I would have no other recourse but to agree to an interview.

Fifth: “However, we are advised that it was an important factor in the resolution of this matter” What you failed to do was to balance that with the other major factor the crown considered which was the impact that this has had on my health. The crown considered the hardship I endured as well as the fact that I felt I could never go back to teaching. Instead you imply a plea or a tit-for-tat agreement.

Lastly: “…a detailed clarification the following day…” Of only one error, and an unbalanced presentation of the other “factors” that were considered.

The entire tone of the report was suggestive of guilt and a plea. I asked that you apologize when you “clarified” so that it would negate the impression of guilt you created on the 15th. You refused.

I had many people contact me that night, as I grew up in this community and have extensive family here, all of whom were angered by your presentation of the story. You may not feel it was one-sided but your audience does, especially those that know the truth. All I requested was a fair and balanced coverage of an event that has been devastating to myself and my family.

What I have learned from the entire process is that there is no innocent until proven guilty; the media has presented a guilty until proven otherwise, and even then you are guilty.

She submitted a second Ruling Request on August 23:

Further to my response from August 21, 2015:

On July 15, 2015 CTV News Kitchener aired a report as a headline concerning the withdrawal of 4 charges (2 charges of luring, 1 exploitation, 1 invitation to touching. Although two of these charges had already been confirmed as being withdrawn from the crown’s office prior to this court date). This report was biased, unfair and editorial in nature.

At no time did CTV reporters attend the hearing with the withdrawal of charges; in fact, the only reason they were in the court house that day was to cover the sentencing in a murder conviction. The importance of this is that the reporter relied only on a statement of facts and notes from someone else who apparently interviewed crown attorney [S. M.], to which Ms. [M.] denied providing specific facts reported. The report implied that the reporter was there and was reporting an entire event.

As you can imagine, the last two years have been incredibly stressful to myself, my three children, and my family. This story was sensationalized from the beginning two years ago, and continued to be with the withdrawal of charges being the lead story. On a day I was to celebrate the resolution of such a horrible experience, I instead had to make numerous calls to the CTV newsroom and my lawyer. The news report caused tremendous stress and anxiety.

Despite the response from [CTV Kitchener’s News Director], I maintain that CTV was biased and that the story was not presented in a straightforward, factual manner and was in fact sensationalized.

The following are the articles I believe CTV violated:

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters Clause 5 – News “…news be presented with accuracy and without bias.”

“…arrangements made for obtaining news to ensure this result.”

“…also ensure that the news broadcasts are not editorials.”

“The fundamental purpose of news dissemination in a democracy is to enable people to know what is happening, and to understand events so they form their own conclusions.”

Radio Television Digital News Association of Canada Article 1 – Accuracy “Electronic journalists will inform the public in an accurate, comprehensive and fair manner about events and issues of importance.”

Article 7 – Corrections

“Errors will be quickly acknowledged and publicly corrected on all platforms.”

Article 8 – Decency and Conduct

“They will strive to prevent their presence from distorting the character or importance of events.”

Article 13 – Sources

“Electronic journalists will make every effort to attribute news on record.”

CTV News Kitchener had a clear bias in the report as they did not take appropriate steps to ensure accuracy. They claim they tried but could not locate information as to how to “verify” the story. According to CTV, they received information from the crown. Could they not have asked at that time for my lawyer’s information? It is public record. Also, reporters from the Kitchener-Waterloo Record easily contacted my lawyer and presented a fair coverage. My lawyers have been included in previous reports as well. There is no excuse to not have contacted him, and was easily accomplished had they chosen to do so. At no time did they contact me BEFORE they aired the story and would not have spoken with me except for my calls to them.

The exclusion of facts, combined with the inaccurate information stated, resulted in a report that implied guilt of a crime for which I was not even tried. The court does not withdraw charges they believe to be true, yet CTV implied a “plea deal” of sorts as the crown did not have enough evidence rather than the fact that the evidence proved there was no intent. The inaccuracy and exclusion of facts resulted in a one-sided, editorial, sensationalized report that did not allow for the public to form their own conclusions.

Moreover, as to the “corrections” made, the original report aired as a headline while the “correction” aired well into the report and still contained bias. It only concerned one of the concerns I and my lawyer shared with [CTV Kitchener’s News Director].

Specifically, the second error being I would be recharged with sex-related crimes. It should be made clear what a peace bond is, as did the Cambridge Times in their coverage of the withdrawal. Instead, CTV implied that the court still believed I was guilty of a crime. [The News Director], while in a telephone conversation, admitted that her reporter “misspoke”, yet refused to clarify that part of their story. As well, in their clarification, they emphasized the fact that my resignation was a factor in the resolution but failed to indicate what the other significant factor was: my mental health. The crown received documents concerning my resignation, and the effect the charges have had on me which include 3 months of hospitalization, treatment, medication while managing ongoing PTSD, anxiety and depression. They imply a plea again in their clarification. This was not a fair and balanced correction.

As to Article 8 – Decency and Conduct, the reporter recorded the report in front of my previous place of employment, [P.] High School in Cambridge, ensuring that the community would watch to see why there would be news there when the building is empty.

This is sensationalizing the story by showing the school while she reports about the dropping of sex related charges.

Similarly, the placement of this story as a headline distorts the meaning of the withdrawal of charges which is: there was no crime.

Finally, Article 13 refers to sourcing, as journalists are to make every effort to attribute news on record. At no time did the reporter indicate that there was no actual coverage at the proceedings. In fact, the coverage inferred detailed knowledge of the proceedings rather than the convoluted “trail of facts.”

They state that the crown, [S. M.], said things that she did not, again making it appear as if the crown and court believe there was guilt.

All I expected was a fair, factual and balanced report. There was no trial, the charges were withdrawn, yet the coverage presented me as a guilty person who made a plea in exchange for the charges being withdrawn. I am not the only individual that takes exception to this one-sided, biased, sensationalizing editorial. My lawyer watched the original airing which was consequently removed, and was greatly concerned with the errors and prejudicial tone of the coverage. The media is to present information that is factual, fair and without bias. In doing so, they need to ensure that they have verified their facts and address all aspects or persons involved. CTV failed to do so.

They ([CTV’s News Director]), stated in a telephone conversation after the airing that she had a deadline and couldn’t verify the facts before then. It may be a “story” to them, but this is my life and I’m trying hard to re-establish myself in this community.

The withdrawal of the charges was to be a message to the community that I did not commit a crime, yet that is not how it was portrayed. I have accepted my mistakes, as should CTV News Kitchener. The media should be accountable to the impact they have on people, including those with mental illness.

Once the CBSC informed it that this file was being sent to a Panel for adjudication, CTV Kitchener submitted the following additional letter on January 18, 2016:

In response to your request, CTV News Kitchener wishes to take this opportunity to provide further information to the adjudication panel in addition to our earlier response of August 19, 2015 concerning the above-noted complaint.

In our previous response, the station admits that in covering a report about sexual charges being withdrawn against the complainant, Ms. [R.], an inadvertent error was made. The 6 pm report indicated that Ms. [R.] was ordered to resign from the College of Teachers, rather than voluntarily resigning. Although this was a minor part of the report, the station promptly included information from the complainant’s lawyer in the subsequent late night report, indicating that the decision was hers. CTV Kitchener also issued a detailed on-air clarification the following day at the same time the original report had aired, once we had the opportunity to confirm with the court officials that this was in fact the case.

Our prior response provides significant detail as to how the station conducted itself after being contacted by the complainant. We believe that CTV Kitchener acted appropriately and professionally in accordance with the requirements of the CAB Code of Ethics as well as the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Code of Ethics, and more specifically, Article 7.

Ms. [R.] had been given the opportunity to provide her position in connection with this story on numerous occasions. Although at one point she indicated that she would, her lawyer contacted us later to ask us not to contact her again. Accordingly, before airing the detailed clarification, the station ran the wording by Ms. [R.]’s lawyer who advised the station it was satisfactory. We did not contact Ms. [R.] again as requested, but did ask her counsel to contact her to ensure she would be satisfied with the clarification and he agreed to do so. As such, we were very surprised that Ms. [R.] contacted the CBSC to make a complaint in this matter when genuine efforts were made to respond to her concerns in a timely fashion.

The CBSC has recognized in past decisions that any broadcast acknowledged “mistake” does not necessarily constitute a breach of the codified broadcast standards.

In the Council’s view, absolute perfection is a goal to strive for, but not one which can or should, at all times, be enforced. Just as the law does not generally deal with trifles, honest broadcast errors, particularly those which are rapidly put right, cannot reasonably be the object of CBSC sanction. After all, the pace of broadcasting, particularly news broadcasting, in the electronic age is such that inadvertent errors can be expected to occur from time to time. The issue for the public and the CBSC must, in general, surely be what the broadcaster does with such an error when made aware of it.

(CITY-TV re CityPulse, CBSC Decision 96/97-0216, February 20, 1998)

In addition, as a final point, we believe it is important to note that in Ms. [R.]’s ruling request, she raises new accusations of bias and sensationalism with respect to our reporting that were never included in her original complaint. She cites several sections of the RTDNA Code of (Journalistic) Ethics and Clause 5 of the CAB Code of Ethics.

We strongly reject any accusation that our coverage of this story involved any bias or sensationalism. Ms. [R.], the complainant, a former teacher, was facing very serious, sex-related charges involving a student. We believe there was a high public interest value in covering this story.

There was no editorializing in the story. The Agreed Statement of Facts, a common court document which was agreed upon and submitted to the court by both the Crown and Ms. [R.]’s lawyer, formed the basis for much of the detail in the story. Our stories never suggested that there was a plea arrangement, as suggested by Ms. [R.], but rather they made it clear that the charges were dropped.

We at CTV Kitchener believe it was appropriate to provide our viewers with details about the conduct the complainant was accused of and the facts she had agreed to in open court. It was important to our story that our viewers understand what had occurred and why the charges were ultimately withdrawn. The story was not biased or sensationalized in any way.

CTV Kitchener is a member in good standing of the CBSC and adheres to all codes and guidelines administered by the CBSC.