Posted October 13, 2018 05:09:20 In a world of digital news and social media, a small group of reporters is making a difference.
On a recent weekday afternoon, reporter Michael R. Hsu walked into the office of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC-TV’s national broadcaster, and asked the crew to pick his brain about what it takes to do a news story.
“You have to have good editors,” said Hsu, adding that he’s never had a bad story at CBC-T, which he’s called “the greatest investigative journalism in the world.”
It’s a sentiment shared by several others interviewed for this story, including reporters and editors who are not paid for their work.
The CBC is the country’s second-largest broadcasting service.
The network’s journalists, who range in age from mid-40s to mid-60s, make an average of $30,000 a year.
But their jobs come with perks: the ability to take vacation and a 10 per cent bonus.
They also get to attend events and meet people with important stories to tell, and get free meals.
But what happens when a story gets overlooked?
The story, say some CBC staffers, isn’t worth the time and energy it takes.
“A lot of people have been telling me that stories that were overlooked were very difficult to tell because they were just so far out of the mainstream,” said Peter Gagnon, a former CBC producer who’s now a reporter at The Globe and Mail.
In this case, that would be a story about a woman whose body was found in a Toronto backyard.
In the spring of 2017, CBC News was told about the discovery of a body that hadn’t been found for five years, and that a man had been charged in connection with it.
It was a case that CBC had covered, and it was a story the CBC felt it could do without.
A week later, the CBC decided to do something about it.
The investigation was called Project Ponderosa, a name that loosely refers to a group of investigators who were brought together by the public broadcaster to solve a murder case.
“We felt like this was a really important story,” said Gagnons mother, Christine Bowerman.
“And we thought if we could get some good people together, they would come up with a better way to tell it.”
A couple of months later, they got their answer.
It would be “Ponderosa” for murder, and the story would be told by the late Pauline Kael, who had been working as a journalist for the CBC for 27 years.
The case was a mystery.
What had happened?
Was it a suicide?
A drug case?
“I’ve never seen anybody get so excited about a murder story,” Bowermans daughter said.
“This was a big deal to me, and I was so excited.”
But Kael and her family weren’t ready to move on.
In early 2017, the Kaels filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the CBC and a former employee, alleging that she was fired for taking a job in a different job with the CBC after she was promoted.
“I knew I wasn’t going to get the job back because I was still a journalist,” said Kael.
She said she felt so badly that she took time off and tried to work from home to get a second job.
She worked for The Toronto Star, which was also a CBC station at the time.
“There was no way that I could go back to work there,” she said.
In June, a judge dismissed the wrongful death suit, ruling that the “novelty” of her case was outweighed by the need to investigate a case of alleged police misconduct.
In July, the court ruled that the CBC had no duty to investigate the Kailels’ allegations.
“The case was dismissed because the alleged conduct had not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt and the trial court was satisfied that there was no reasonable likelihood that the accused was guilty of the offence,” the court ruling said.
But the CBC appealed, arguing that the case had already been dropped by the Ontario Court of Appeal.
The appeal, however, was not overturned.
CBC-Ombudsman Michael Ferguson said that the court didn’t have to be satisfied that the Kels were “unreasonable” in believing they were the victims of a murder investigation.
“If the complainant has a reasonable belief that the conduct of the complainant was wrong, then they’re entitled to an investigation, whether it’s by the police or the courts,” he said.
The Kels’ lawyer, Paul LeClair, argued that the decision to drop the case was made without adequate notice to the Klaels and that the trial judge made an improper decision to dismiss the lawsuit without providing the KLaels any reason.
“She didn’t give us any reason for that decision,” said LeClaire.
The decision to go ahead with the investigation was made despite