" ..… Please be grateful for the positive positions you were in but don't minimize what some other women have experienced. Life can change on a dime …. " a comment posted on CBC's Fifth Estate "Behind the Line"
I don't always blindly accept reports from investigative journalism. Too often, the main goal of the producer or editor in charge is to daze viewers with sensationalism as opposed to ethical, quality, journalistic reporting on facts and figures to support certain messages or conclusions. However, after watching the CBC Fifth Estate's "Behind the Line", I cannot help but feel that a great injustice has been done to the women RCMP officers who had come forward to expose sexual harassment in their workplace. It is not a case of he said vs they said. Despite earlier denial, the male officer did admit sexual misconduct. But, the price he is paying is pale compared to the price paid by the victims.
Please don't get me wrong. I have the utmost respect for the RCMP which to me, remains a Canadian institution and icon, up there along with Parliament Hill and the maple leaf. I had a chance to know several RCMP friends when I was living in Flin Flon, and some of my close friends and relatives are affiliated with the Mounties. So, one bad apple in the Calgary detachment should not reflect badly on the reputation of the whole. But here is where investigative journalism succeeds (or fails as critics may say). By reporting on the injustice of this sexual harassment case, in addition to the string of negative events that have already put the Mounties in the defensive, the media is forcing the federal government and the new RCMP commissioner to make substantial corporate, cultural, policy and process changes.
With the appointment of the new Commissioner Bob Paulson, the RCMP is at a cross-road. In my opinion, the number one preoccupation of legal councils and senior executives is to win back public support, as opposed to trying to protect in a defensive mood the reputation and liability of the "company". The national police force must be seen as capable of administering justice not just in court cases, but also within its own rank and files. If the RCMP fails to make substantial changes, it will not be the media that will be inflicting more injuries to the Canadian institution, but the decreasing morale and discontent of the men and women who have chosen to proudly wear the Mounties uniforms.
* CBC Fifth Estate "Behind the Line"
Since the airing of "Behind the Line" by CBC/Fifth Estate in 2011, the Government and the RCMP have taken actions to address sexual harassment allegations brought forward by several female RCMP officers. I just want to emphasize that the issue at hand is abt work relationships btwn male and female RCMP officers. This article does not pass judgement on personal relations btwn consenting adults outside of the workplace (see Note 1 below). Similar to the military, the appropriateness, or the lack thereof, of such relations/behaviours is usually governed by an institution's internal codes, guidelines and/or policies.
Note 1: While I am not a journalist, I am aware of the Ethics Guidelines published by the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) and am glad that generally speaking Canada is not like the UK.
RIGHT TO PRIVACY
- The public has a right to know about its institutions and the people who are elected or hired to serve its interests. People also have a right to privacy, and those accused of crimes have a right to a fair trial.
- However, there are inevitable conflicts between the right to privacy, and the rights of all citizens to be informed about matters of public interest. Each situation should be judged in light of common sense, humanity and relevance.
- We do not manipulate people who are thrust into the spotlight because they are victims of crime or are associated with a tragedy. Nor to we do voyeuristic stories about them. When we contact them, we are sensitive to their situations, and report only information in which the public has a legitimate interest.
- Journalists are increasingly using social networking sites to access information about people and organizations. When individuals post and publish information about themselves on these sites, this information generally becomes public, and can be used. However, journalists should not use subterfuge to gain access to information intended to be private. In addition, even when such information is public, we must rigorously apply ethical considerations including independent confirmation and transparency in identifying the source of information. (See DIGITAL MEDIA, below.)