CBC News Supremo Tony Burman weighed in today on how the public broadcaster fared balance-wise during the election campaign. (I added the links, both PDF.)
The good news — for us and, one could argue, for CBC's audiences — is that the major study done by an outside research firm concluded that CBC News was "balanced" throughout the campaign. It also indicated that the "tone" of CBC's coverage toward the political parties and their leaders (negative versus positive) was consistent with its competitors and other media.
This study was done by ERIN Research, a respected independent research firm. It was based on a weekly campaign analysis of our flagship news programs on CBC Radio and CBC-TV, as well as CTV National News as a way of contrast. CBC had no influence over the results. Among the study's conclusions:
* Overall, "CBC's coverage was appropriately balanced"; CBC and CTV were "very close" in their "tone" and "direction" toward each party; and for the first time in memory, debate about "policy" assumed as much importance as discussion about political "strategy" and "the horserace."
A second report — also available through a link below — is CBC's internal "election story logging." This was compiled on a daily basis by CBC staff:
* It quantified the length of stories about each party, their leaders and the issues, and provided a weekly snapshot of the weight of coverage given to the major parties. The final breakdown was remarkably parallel to the popular vote.
The ERIN report is 43 pages long and I admit I only skimmed through them. But, even a cursory look over all the charts and stats lends credence to Burman's claim.
Take that Warren Kinsella.
I am trying to imagine any other news organization going so far to prove it was balanced - and how nervous they must be right now at CBC to commission such a study.