CBC Proposes “Approve Before Publish” Blogging Rules

According to a new “guideline” (not “policy”), any CBC employee — not just those who are journalists — must obtain permission of their supervisor before starting a personal blog that “clearly associates them with CBC/Radio-Canada.” Even after getting approval, the blog “cannot advocate for a group or a cause or express partisan political opinion.” More a Inside CBC.com. (tip)

The acting editor in chief insists (in a comment) that this is a benign guideline (implication: no teeth): “we are trying to provide guidance for CBC staff that is consistent with existing practices and ensure the same high ethical and quality standards that are hallmarks of CBC.”

From the comments:

Telling employees what they can and can’t do or say when not at work (except as it pertains to non-disculosure/trade secrets etc.) and not using company resources I would say puts them on shaky and testable legal ground.

[W]hy not just insist that they have a disclaimer… that this is personal opinion and not that of the CBC?

This policy, which is supposed to apply “to any corporation employee” is clearly in contravention of Canadian Constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression. Its also being applied “post-hoc”, and as such,is probably a violation of the employee’s contract.

The policy is simply long overdue. It’s the CBC belatedly exercising common sense, and was inevitable.

As for the blogging rules, one reason there were so many blogs during the lockout was that most of them were already existing when Rabinovitch and Stursberg tossed us out in the street and the blogs were repurposed during the lockout and then went back to their original focus after the lockout ended. That was EXACTLY TWO YEARS AGO and only now does CBC management realize that CBC people are still blogging. I doubt that the policy would could stand any challenge either if the Guild had to grieve it or take it arbitration or even if it ended up in court, because they haven’t done anything about it in the past five years.

I understand that we journalists are held to a certain standards even in our private lives. I’m fine with that, it’s part of being a reporter — I can’t volunteer for the local chapter of BirthRight or the local Planned Parenthood because I cover health, and abortion is such a hot button topic. Fair enough… But if I want to blog about the office environment, the collective agreement, or my struggles to be a parent and a reporter — that’s none of their business. It is not an outside activity that conflicts with being a reporter. It is not showing an overt bias in my story-telling.

First published at NetEconomics

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