The Problem With Lawns - Another CBC Turf Trash Piece

By Jerry Rousseau

As sometimes happens, a concerned WCTA member forwarded me a link to a recent CBC piece on lawns that shall we say, doesn’t portray turf in the best light.  In fact, the original version stated that other than aesthetics, turf/lawns had no use at all.  Yes, CBC still seems to hate grass as evidenced in the following video:

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Nik Wall of Premier Pacific Seeds and WCTA Director, contacted CBC by email stating, “I found the CBC video ‘Why you should naturalize your lawn |’ made false claims and provided inaccurate information and am disappointed at the quality of CBC reporting.”  He pointed out, “Without even identifying which turfgrass species the author is talking about, at 1:07 of the video, it mentions that turfgrass lawns don’t sequester carbon, manage watershed, support pollinators, or support the food web. All of which are false.”

As implied in the first paragraph, the original video has been changed as a result of Mr. Wall’s letter.  Here’s the entire response he received from Shiral Tobin, Director, Journalism and Programming for CBC News British Columbia:

Sent: Tuesday, July 2, 2024 6:10:03 PM
To: Nikolas Wall
Cc: CBC Ombud <>; BRODIE FENLON <>
Subject: Your email to CBC's ombudsperson Re: Content Feedback 

Dear Nikolas Wall:

I’m writing to reply to your June 17, 2024 email to CBC Ombudsperson Jack Nagler regarding a segment about lawn turf, Why you should naturalize your lawn.  I’m the Director of Journalism and Programming for CBC British Columbia, so CBC News Editor in Chief Brodie Fenlon asked me to respond to your query.

In your email, you flag that the video contained ‘false claims and provided inaccurate information’ and you say you are “disappointed at the quality of CBC reporting.” Specifically you note where it mentioned “turfgrass lawns don’t sequester carbon, manage watershed, support pollinators, or support the food web”. You say this is all false. 

When we received your complaint, we reviewed the video again and spoke with all the journalists involved in this story. I want to thank you for raising your concerns because we work diligently to ensure our journalism lives up to the high standards of fairness, accuracy, balance and integrity as outlined in CBC Journalistic Standards and Practices  (JSP) .  

The story states that almost all commonly used turf grasses are non-native, that those are the ones it is focusing on, and explains how the very fact that they are not native is a large part of the problem.  But I agree that in this instance, the language in the story was not as precise as it could have been and there was a lack of attribution.   

We have now updated the video to provide that attribution and we have included a clarification that reads “This story has been updated to clarify attribution of the source of statements made about the ecological impact of some types of turf lawns.”

Mr. Wall, thank you again for writing with your concern. As Canada’s public broadcaster, we are committed to providing information that is factual and accurate. We take very seriously any claim that our journalism is inaccurate or in any other way fails to meet our journalistic standards. I hope this note has assured you of the integrity of our journalism. I’m happy to discuss any further questions you have.  


Shiral Tobin

Cc. Jack Nagler, CBC Ombudsperson
       Brodie Fenlon, Editor in Chief, CBC News

Director, Journalism and Programming
CBC News British Columbia
Radio One 88.1FM/690AM
C: 778-835-6118 
700 Hamilton Street
P.O. Box 4600
Vancouver, BC V6B 4A2

At the end of the day, it appears CBC chose not to pursue the science in terms of turf benefits, rather, they simply altered the piece just enough to keep it within the lines.  I’m not sure it’s worth any further attention but it would be nice if someday, a CBC journalist did some actual turf research instead of working backward from a pre-conceived notion.  For anyone who knows about turf and saw through this right away, bravo, but it’s predictable that most viewers would not have a clue.  Now apply this knowledge to any other subject matter reported on by CBC…