Bazay on blogging

I was going to write David Bazay an email today. You can imagine my surprise when I found out he was dead.

I wrote him last week with a few questions about the legal and ethical ramifications of CBC employees blogging about the CBC. He answered me a few days later, and I was struck by how thoughtful, intelligent, and quietly passionate his email was. I’m writing him as “Ouimet,” anonymous gadfly, and he responded as the Ombudsman, full-on, no quotes, with respect and class.

He might have been a late worker. He seems like the type. But assuming he didn’t work on Saturday, I was probably the last, or one of the last, people he ever wrote as the Ombudsman.

So I read what he suggested I read. I was going to write him with a few more observations, a couple questions, and a thankyou. I was also going to ask him if I could post his response in my blog. Now unable to ask, I’m going to use my judgment and post it.

I’ve clipped out a few sensitive parts, but what’s left is solid reasoning, good advice, and an obvious understanding and respect for this place.


From : CBC Ombudsman (
Sent : October 28, 2005 5:16:42 PM
To : Ouimet (
Subject : Re: CBC Employee web sites

Dear A. Ouimet,

Since the Ombudsman does not have, and should not have, any disciplinary powers at the CBC I cannot address your question about whether maintaining a personal web site might constitute grounds for termination. However I would like to try to respond to your other questions.

At the risk of being too brief my own view is that, whether we like it or not, CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices applies to the activities of public broadcasters both inside and outside the CBC. Our credibility is indivisible. If we worked by one set of rules inside the CBC and by another outside the CBC we would do so at the risk of losing our credibility. So I draw your attention to the section on credibility, on balance, on what the policy book has to say about the expression of personal opinion and so on. I would also encourage you to read the section on online policies as well as the section on personnel standards.

That said there’s a long and healthy practice at the CBC of allowing journalists to say what they think about the state of our craft. But even here the traditional practice has been for journalists to seek authorization beforehand and to submit texts of their speeches, articles for clearance. Back in the days when I was Executive Producer of The National I don’t think I ever refused anyone’s request to speak nor can I recall requesting any change to what was to be said. As you note you raise your questions in the aftermath of the lockout when a lot of shots were fired by a lot of people in the heat of battle. That’s not unusual in industrial disputes. But once agreements are reached the shooting tends to subside or at least to be done by the authorized sharp shooters, the spokespeople for both union and management.

If public broadcasters are to become bloggers I would hope that they would exercise their freedom of speech exactly the way they are compelled to exercise it within the CBC: with accuracy, fairness and integrity, with the responsible speech of CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices that has helped make this place one of the great places in the world where the citizen can be well informed.

David Bazay


  1. Amazing
    Posted November 8, 2005 at 5:32 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Seems no one wants to approach HR to find out – and I also get the impression that both the CBC and the Guild are very slow to make their position/policy known.
    Too hot a potato to handle?
    They’re avoiding the inevitable.

    Journalists also seem not to have recognized the significance of the issue.

    thanks, O

  2. Ouimet
    Posted November 8, 2005 at 3:51 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’ve signed a lot of things at the CBC. I never read any of them. I suppose one of them could have been important.

    If any HR person is reading this, I’d be interested to hear more on it.

    And no, I never told David my identity. I left out my email to him because I thought it was superfluous and his writing is better than mine.

    As for regrets, as David says, a lot of things are said in “the heat of battle,” which is understandable and forgiveable. Although I once said that we needed to kick Buzz Hargrove in the balls, which may have been a bit much, even if it was meant allegorically.

  3. Amazing
    Posted November 7, 2005 at 6:31 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece
  4. Amazing
    Posted November 7, 2005 at 3:54 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece


  5. Amazing
    Posted November 7, 2005 at 3:51 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    … and Ouimet – does not the original correspondence between you and Bazay contain your identity?

    You may want to pull a Watergate

    … then again, it may be that you have nothing to regret

    … but the rest of sure do!

  6. Amazing
    Posted November 7, 2005 at 3:48 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Thanks for addressing this Ouimet.
    Perhaps I can clarify (as I had no idea you would actually treat me as an adult, and consider my question – Yipes, I should have rehearsed more, and dressed up)

    Does the Human Resources Det. of the CBC not require new employees to agree to some kind of confidentiality?
    It has always been an understanding any place I’ve worked – from government to law firm to storefront.
    Perhaps this is not an area you can speak to. Can anyone?

  7. Anonymous
    Posted November 6, 2005 at 10:03 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    David Bazay was a lovely man and a great Ombudsman. Always fair, thoughtful in his actions and responses and no attitude. We were lucky to have him, and he will be missed.

  8. Ouimet
    Posted November 4, 2005 at 7:16 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’m glad you guys found this interesting and useful.

    Amazing –
    In my email to Mr. Bazay I asked him directly if all CBC employees were subject to the Journalistic Standards and Practices. As he said, in his opinion, we are. And in my research I can find nothing that says that those standards only apply to journalists.

    Whether he is legally right or not, it’s probably a good idea. The CBC will probably come up with a blogging policy, but I would bet that it wouldn’t stray too far from the journalistic standards.

    Interested employees may also want to take a look at policy 2-2-3: Conflict of Interest and Ethics which essentially says the same thing as the Journalistic standards.

  9. Amazing
    Posted November 3, 2005 at 6:21 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I really enjoyed this site/blog

    (feel free to quote this in any newspaper advertising – as you know, I’m quite famous)

    the response from the Ombusdman was enlightening

    But I do question if the act of a CBC employee having a blog falls under Journalist guidelines, or simply under general employer/employee ethical behaviour

    would a receptionist or set decorator have to adhere to guidelines for Journalists?

    do either of you have an answer for this?
    or are you concerned about not answering me for fear of catching leprosy or blogmania

  10. Swiv
    Posted November 1, 2005 at 12:58 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Good judgement Ouimet. Thanks for asking the question, and for sharing the response. Bazay was conscientious in his role as Ombudsman, clearly that held to the last.

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