6. Conversations Behind Closed Doors

The public only consumes the final product, and generally doesn’t have insight into the decision-making process going on behind-the-scenes where news organizations determine what to present to their audience and how to present it. Given the nature of the evidence at the Saretzky trial, these types of decisions carried even more weight than usual.

Because CBC had dozens of bloody photos, the re-enactment video and other gruesome evidence at its disposal, everyone involved in the corporation’s reporting of the trial had strong opinions about what to withhold, what to present, and how to present it.

Henderson said she relied heavily on private discussions with Studer to guide the coverage. “We’d go back and forth,” she said. “Here’s why we think [certain evidence] is important, but here’s where we are anxious [about] public sensibilities.”1Helen Henderson. Interview done by Daniel LeBaron, Devika Desai. December 12, 2017.

Grant also had strong opinions, some of which didn’t always mesh with management’s views, particularly about whether to use the Saretzky re-enactment tape. She wanted to use it, but management wasn’t sure it was a good idea. Editorial leaders were concerned about giving Saretzky undue attention, and felt that he enjoyed some of the attention he received during the trial, even noting that he seemed to be smirking at points throughout the proceedings.

 

Next: 7. Epilogue

References   [ + ]

1. Helen Henderson. Interview done by Daniel LeBaron, Devika Desai. December 12, 2017.