Radio Canada: Ombudsman appeals to end comments on the site

No more news articles from Radio Canada should be opened for comments on its website, the public broadcaster’s ombudsman judges in his latest annual report. Her recommendation goes further than that of the English-speaking CBC management, which just suspended online reactions on its Facebook page for a month.

“It occurs to me to look at what is written [sous les articles] And honestly, I say to myself: Is it really worth it? […] People say anything from the back of their basement. Is this the kind of contribution we expected? I understand the principle of wanting to create discussion among citizens on topics, but is that what we really get? The launch of the outgoing Ombudsman for CBC/Radio-Canada French Services, Guy Gendron.

In his annual report released Monday, he provided his latest recommendations for changes he believes are necessary to improve the accountability of the CBC to Canadians. Among them, he warmly advises the media to put a line in the comments section, whose content “generally does not make any significant contribution,” he said.

“Often, this section presents a few people—usually always the same—an opportunity to confront each other, as in a boxing ring, and to paraphrase the same obsessions, prejudices, and half-truths. We rarely see meaningful exchange, but rather disagreements between Insiders thus reducing the heat of the debate,” he wrote in the document that ended his five-year term.

I understand the principle of wanting to create discussion among citizens on topics, but is that what we really get?

In an interview, Mr. Gendron would like to point out that he is not opposed to the idea of ​​being able to publicly comment and criticize content produced by Radio-Canada. But this should not be done, he said, on the media site, which has a general mandate and legal responsibility for anything that appears on its web pages. “Many other forums are available to comment on a topic,” he says, inviting people to share an article on Radio Canada instead on their Facebook page or on Twitter if they’d like to comment on it and start a discussion. with their community.

At present, the public broadcaster is closing the comments section under articles on a sensitive topic, prone to slippage. Insufficient framework from the Ombudsman’s viewpoint. The most motivated netizens are always more creative in expressing their opinions at any cost. Some will comment on the topic in another article that has nothing to do with it, but you can still express yourself hereby. Others will double down on complaints to the ombudsman, saying they are “restricted in their freedom of expression”.

many complaints

Since taking office in 2016, the ombudsman said he has received many complaints about this each year. There are also netizens who think a comment should never be approved, and those who feel unfairly censored by moderators. Note that Radio-Canada and CBC use an outside company to edit comments on their sites.

Technological tools have been put in place to quickly filter out swear words, racism and hate speech. But in front of the creative spirit of many, who managed to circumvent the rules, the company’s employees must also devote time to it. “I have no idea the costs, but it must be huge to manage all of this,” says Mr. Gendron. In his view, efforts devoted to modifying comments on social media networks – which are in turn made by Radio Canada employees – would be more beneficial if they were invested in news content.

Moreover, should Radio Canada follow in the footsteps of CBC News, which canceled its comments on its Facebook page on Wednesday? “What applies to punk is my kitty. If Radio Canada accepts my request [de fermer les commentaires sur son site Web]The same reasoning should apply to Radio Canada’s Facebook page,” he answers, adding that he was “excited” to see the results of the CBC News experiment.

Note that the inability to post comments on the Facebook page of the English-language public broadcaster is only valid for a one-month testing period at this time. This resolution aims to respond to the increasingly ferocious attacks against journalists and their work. However, it is not unanimous. In the past few days, the hashtag #DefundCBC, which calls for budgets to be withdrawn from the public broadcaster, has gone viral on social media.

Radio Canada already made it clear on Wednesday that it does not want to imitate its English-speaking counterpart. “CBC/Radio-Canada will analyze and discuss the learning during this pilot project and you will see what happens next,” Task. The ombudsman’s recommendation does not appear on the announcer’s table either. “Having comment forums on our digital platforms requires special attention, even if we still believe they are relevant and consistent with our desire to be open to the public,” we can read in the CEO’s response. From Luce Julien’s info to Mr. Gendron Report. She adds that Radio Canada is redoubling its vigilance to “ensure a climate and exchanges that respect the new code of conduct,” something that has been tightened twice in the past year.

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