7. The decision point

CBC British Columbia’s editorial staff were faced with a decision: a teenager had been killed and a portion of the attack was caught in a six-second video clip that was already making the rounds on social media. Once the newsroom had received the video by email from a former intern,  Burgess was faced with the […]

6. Alternatives to the unedited video

Airing disturbing content doesn’t have to be a matter of airing all or airing nothing. There are always alternatives to showing a video in its full form. Krop’s team, for example, blurred parts of the video when they aired it. In an earlier newscast, they opted to have a reporter describe the video. Still images, […]

5. The wildcard: social media

Journalists recognize that their job as gatekeepers is less concrete than even a decade ago because of social media. “I was the lineup editor of The National. Nothing got on The National unless I said it got on The National,” Bulgutch says. “But now, if I don’t put something on The National, people can walk […]

4. The way it played out: When graphic content was aired

CBC has a history of airing graphic or otherwise disturbing content. For example, senior producers at CBC’s The National chose to broadcast the image of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler who drowned, and whose body washed up on the shore of Turkey. That decision was controversial, and was met with complaints. One in particular led to a […]

3. Graphic content and broadcast policy

CBC and Global are both subject to the Broadcasting Act, which makes no direct mention of airing images of violence. Instead, it defers to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which has established criteria that calls for graphic content advisories, restricts gratuitous or glamorized violence, and states when graphic content can be aired [1]. […]

2. Sensationalism or public interest? The ethical question

Krop says she felt that the jarring and graphic footage of a young girl being stabbed not only highlighted a possible lack of safety in B.C. schools, but could catalyze the effort to rectify the problem. Burgess had to make a judgement for her audience: Was the video in the public interest? Could the video be that […]

1. Global goes to air: “‘Have you no souls? Have you no heart?’”

Global B.C. chose to air a blurred version of the video. Global B.C. news director Jill Krop says it was a difficult decision, and one that was met with shock, anger, and even a petition on Change.org, calling for her immediate resignation. The fallout from Global’s broadcast prompted Krop to defend her decision on CKNW, an […]

Graphic content: When is it worth airing?

Case study by Olivia Chandler, Katerina Georgieva, Gregory Furgala and Kieran Delamont January 2017 Introduction On the morning of November 1, 2016, a young male entered Abbotsford Senior Secondary School in British Columbia and stabbed two teenagers at random. A bystander caught the incident on video, which showed one victim on the ground, trying to […]