The CBC’s lingering Boudreau problem

One month after the apparent death of chronic lobster poacher and trap vandal Philip Boudreau, the CBC continues to falsely identify him as a fisherman.

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This is perplexing  The CBC’s very capable reporters and editors know full well that Boudreau held no commercial or sport fishing license of any kind. They know his status as a non-fisherman is both a key fact, and a probable factor, in the events leading to his disappearance.

Never discount the role of haste in deadline journalism. Toronto web editors who are not the primary reporters covering this story may have simply assumed that a man pulling lobster traps on a boat in Nova Scotia must be a fisherman. If so, then presumably the network will promptly correct the two stories here and here (although one of them has already been online almost a week).

If, however, the CBC has made a considered editorial decision to describe Boudreau a fisherman, that would be a further sign the network is allowing itself to slip into a pro-prosecution mindset. Misidentifying Boudreau as a fisherman is essential to portraying the events as a “dispute” over fishing “territory,” which is a but prosecution-friendly frame for the case.

Already contributing to an apprehension of bias on the part of the CBC are the network’s emotive and credulous account of the family dynamics in the case, and its continued failure to look into allegations, widespread in the community, that little or nothing was done in response to many complaints against Boudreau lodged with the RCMP and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Many in the community want a formal inquiry into that aspect of the case, but CBC listeners and viewers remain in the dark on this score.

The CBC’s coverage of this story ought to concern the network’s journalists and managers.