Shall We Cut Amanda Lang Some Slack

Amanda Lang may be in the spotlight and bruised from an alleged journalistic indiscretion but I suggest that some context is appropriate.  Canadians have long supported the CBC.  The funding of this archaic institution is rarely seriously challenged by taxpayers.  As a publicly funded body, one might argue that it should be free from political bias and editorial direction but in practice it is broadcast by imperfect people at least potentially tempted by influence in spite of ideals which it may purportedly possess.  In the event that you’ve forgotten, the top marginal personal income tax rate in Alberta is 39 per cent and apparently junkets by journalists still go on at the CBC.  Yes, I realize we pay “other” taxes as well.

Amanda Lang had taken on a programming role with the CBC which appeared to more entertainment oriented than news oriented and any prominence acquired through this role may have garnered her attention by corporations such as the Royal Bank of Canada.  Then again, perhaps there’s more to Amanda Lang’s resume which would inspire shareholders of RBC to condone the alleged payment of a speaking fee.   Since she reports on business or has in the past, why would there be no disclosure requirement by the CBC ensuring notification from its journalists who acquire private speaking contracts from corporations?  Preclusion from earning income outside a “job” should rarely be the policy but certainly in the journalism business disclosure should be required by a body who professes ideals of fact based reporting.

I suggest that the CBC and its laxity in constructing a programming model in line with its values is more to blame than Amanda Lang for any perception of reporting bias.  Apparently, the CBC has now implemented a strict policy on the topic to prevent any future indiscretions. I suspect that Amanda Lang did not set out purposely to trigger a debate on journalistic integrity nor to manipulate a message because of the forum afforded her but she simply wanted to capitalize on a circumstance made convenient by her employer.