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iWOAW Files Formal Complaint Against CBC Over Nazi Smear Campaign

Following the publication of articles and associated radio shows compiled by Saroja Coelho, the host of Breakaway on CBC Radio One on March 8, 2017, the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide (iWOAW) has filed a formal complaint with the Quebec Press Council over journalistic ethical concerns.

MONTREAL, Quebec - March 15, 2017 - Rezul -- The Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide (iWOAW) has filed a formal complaint with the Quebec Press Council regarding articles and radio shows compiled by Saroja Coelho, the host of Breakaway on CBC Radio One since September 2016, and published by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC / Radio-Canada), a Canadian Crown Corporation that serves as Canada's national public radio and television broadcaster on March 8, 2017.

Women Of Aviation Worldwide Week, an awareness week born in Canada and powered by iWOAW successfully addresses the severe lack of gender balance in the air and space industry, worldwide. During the Week of March 8, the anniversary date of the world's first female pilot licence, girls of all ages have the opportunity to discover the multiple facets of aviation, hands-on, as well as experience the end-product of all aviation careers – flight.

For the 2017 edition, iWOAW chose to highlight helicopter flight, a sector of aviation that has one of the poorest levels of gender balance 80 years after Hanna Reistch of Germany became the world's first woman to pilot a helicopter months after being drafted into the Luftwaffe.

The Week's theme "Let's swirl. 80 years of female helicopter pilots," was originally announced via press release on March 21, 2016, and regularly promoted during the run up to the Week's celebration. In early September 2016, a short listing of Reistch's key relevant aviation accomplishments was added to the Week's website and linked to an expanded biography listed on a website owned and maintained by iWOAW as the copyright information clearly shows.
iWOAW received no negative comments regarding the theme from the public or its partners for nearly a year. On February 25, 2017, Coelho interviewed Marguerite Varin, an event organizer in Lachute, Quebec. Coelho then contacted Mireille Goyer, President of iWOAW for an interview a few days later.

On March 3, 2017, iWOAW received a copy of an email sent by Coelho to some sponsors containing inflammatory language and bias statements. Suspecting that Coelho who claims to be "fascinated with divided societies" might plan to fabricate a controversy to raise her profile, Goyer contacted Peter Johnson, Coelho's boss.

During the phone conversation, Johnson stated that a story centered around Reistch featured as part of our theme was of "public interest" then warned, "You should worry about your public image."

The public would have to wait for another five days, March 8 – three days after the Week began – to read about CBC's high public interest story. Despite that extended publication delay, to our knowledge, CBC made no efforts to contact other Canadian event organizers to understand how the theme was actually handled on site and to verify that there was, in fact, an intent to 'honour' and 'fete' Reistch as a person at the Week's events.

The article published online was profusely laced with the N-word – Nazi – to enhance inflammatory value and stir emotional responses. iWOAW noted numerous factual errors, odd omissions, and quotes taken out of context to twist original statements in both versions of the article published eight hours apart (see partial list below).

As CBC seem to have planned, some of its readers and the readers of other news organizations who posted articles based on CBC's inaccurate, misleading and inflammatory information without independent journalistic due diligence felt compelled to take action. As a result, iWOAW, individuals named in the article, and some organizers were the target of public "Nazi" branding campaign, there were some death wish emails but also, some supportive emails praising us for highlighting aviation history, as is.

iWOAW acknowledges CBC's right to cover any subject it chooses. However, its decision to publish badly researched and imbalance information in an inflammatory style on a schedule void of concerns for timely release of information and resulting in endangering the safety of girls readying for their free flight by stressing and overloading Canadian volunteersdedicated to erasing a social injustice is reprehensible.

"We certainly did not seek to open old wounds by choosing to celebrate our helicopter's aviation history this year. We truly apologize if we did unintentionally," Mireille Goyer says.

Now that the Week's activities are safely over and thousands of girls of all ages did get their chance to discover aviation despite the CBC's deliberate attempt to prevent it, iWOAW plans to contact B'nai Brith Canada to discuss their concerns directly.
We will also seek an explanation from P.M. Justin Trudeau. We would like to understand why a taxpayer-funded Crown Corporation would purposely distort facts, stir up hate among and towards Canadians, and encourage cyberbullying when the government allocates funds to programs trying to prevent it.

We encourage all news organizations that reported on this matter to remove any false or misleading elements previously published. We plan to take action against any news organizations that did not independently verify facts and did not correct inaccurate or mislead statements after the distribution of this press release. We are also logging IP addresses of all hateful internet communications to share with the authorities.

Most Sticking Errors, Omissions, Misleading Statements Observed by iWOAW

a) The Week is "timed to coincide with International Women's Day." – False – It is timed to coincide with the issuance of the world's first female pilot licence obtained by Raymonde de Laroche on March 8, 1910, as published on the Week's official website.

b) "Honour" "fete" Reistch – False – We do not honour / fete people; we honour / fete / celebrate their aviation accomplishments.

c) "Goyer chose Reitsch, who died in 1979, as this year's pilot to be feted in videos and on posters." – Fabricated Facts – Goyer chose to celebrate past-and-present female helicopter pilots and to introduce girls of all ages to the helicopter world; that's the role of the Week's theme. Incidentally, helicopter flight for women began with Reistch, something Goyer has no control over. No videos or posters of Reistch or any other helicopter flight female pioneers were ever planned, produced, or distributed by iWOAW. Per our understanding, the organizer in Lachute did intend to show a series of publically available YouTube videos featuring various helicopter flight pioneers in action including Reistch, Valérie André, and others.

d) "If you're aiming to talk about her maybe controversial part in political history, to me, that's not relevant." – Misleading – Goyer repeatedly explained to Coelho that themes highlight aviation history, not world history, and that other aspects of the women's lives are not a factor in the selection process. Goyer, the grand-daughter of French citizens who chose to protect a Jewish boy in occupied France would be one of the last persons to dismiss or denied that part of the world's history as the out-of-context quote implies. The personal family information was shared with CBC.

e) "WOAW's website makes no mention of her Nazi past" – Omission – The 90-word summary on the Week's website does not mention Reistch's Nazi past nor does it include many of her aviation accomplishments. However, it does link to an expanded bio including her Nazi connections on a website owned and maintained by iWOAW as clearly shown in the copyright section.

d) "…with the Iron Cross, first class — the only woman to receive that military distinction" – False – To our knowledge, two were awarded to women. Coelho omitted to specify that Reistch received it for her superior engineering skills.

e) "Reitsch did nothing to champion the rights of girls and women in Ghana" – Misleading – Reitsch was one of the 13 founding members of the Whirly Girls, an international female helicopter pilot association championing women across the world since 1955. This fact was shared with both Coelho and Johnson.

Contact
iWOAW Communication Dept.
***@iwoaw.org


Source: iWOAW

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