8. Decision Point: To Air or Not to Air the Footage?

When Kaufman, Malarek and the crew returned from Nova Scotia, they brought the footage to David Studer, then executive producer of the fifth estate. It was Studer’s decision whether to use the footage or not. The typical fifth episode takes months to research, film and edit. Every episode is reviewed multiple times by producers and lawyers. […]

6. The Decision to Confront Sharon Stevens

After their interview requests were ignored, the fifth estate team debated whether to ambush Sharon Stevens in her new home in Joggins, Nova Scotia. Executive producer David Studer recalls consulting CBC policy on jump interviews: Producer David Kaufman explains his own reasoning for undertaking the encounter. This story seemed to fulfil all three requirements for a CBC […]

4. When is a Jump Justified?

Jump interviews should be a last resort, after all other interview options have been tried, according to many reporters and producers interviewed for this story. Otherwise, they warn, journalists risk damage to their credibility when coming across as unnecessarily combative or unfair. As Dean Jobb points out, journalists should “treat sources and the subjects of stories with respect. […]

3. The Unreliability of Eyewitness Testimony

Anyone who makes a false statement to court “with [the] intent to mislead” is guilty of perjury, an indictable offense punishable by up to fourteen years in prison. [1] Perjury is the uncharitable interpretation of Sharon Stevens’ actions. It is impossible to know whether she wittingly or unwittingly misled the court when she testified in […]

2. Vulnerable Subjects and Privacy Rights

This kind of aggressive investigative journalism may raise a problem of balancing an individual’s rights to privacy and the public interest. In Canada, there are two federal privacy laws — the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act — and each province has its own privacy legislation. In Jones v. Tsige, the […]

Ambushed! The Ethics of Unplanned Interviews

The fifth estate‘s dramatic “jump” footage spotlighted an innocent man’s jailing. But was it fair to air it? Case study by Simon Bredin, Sam Colbert and Arielle Piat-Sauvé March 2015 Introduction David Milgaard. Steven Truscott. Robert Baltowich. Canadians know the names of these men because Rubin “Hurricane” Carter’s organization, the Association in Defence of the […]