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Our News Principles

Trusted. Independent. Indispensable.

Canadian Press Policies

When The Canadian Press was founded in 1917, it was for one reason: to serve the newspapers that owned it, and through them, the Canadian public. For decades, the only contact The Canadian Press had with the public was through its member newspapers. But rapid changes in the communications industry have changed the way the news agency fulfils its mandate of keeping Canadians informed.

The Canadian Press serves many of the daily newspapers in Canada, providing reliable and relevant news, photos, video and graphics. But beyond the traditional printed word, its role in new media continues to expand. Regardless of whether Canadians are getting their news from social media, their smartphones or all-news television channels, there’s a good chance much of the information comes from The Canadian Press. It is truly Canada’s No. 1 source for news – in French and English. Newsgathering is an imprecise science, but the depth of the agency’s network makes its newsgathering reach unmatched: a dedicated staff in bureaus and correspondent points across the country; a working partnership with newspaper, TV and radio newsrooms; and an exclusive relationship with the Associated Press, the largest news agency in the world.

There’s a difference between providing information and telling Canadians what is happening in their vast country – and how events beyond our borders affect them. Context and perspective are fundamental parts of the report of The Canadian Press. It’s the goal of its reporters and editors to focus on real people – not just institutions – to show in human terms how events affect our lives. It’s a busy world out there so every story needs to convince people that they should make time for it. If the news report doesn’t strive to be interesting or tell the reader why they should care, Canadians will click to another website, turn the page or flip the channel.

Although our role continues to evolve, the principles that guide our work are unchanged. Everything that we do must be honest, unbiased and unflinchingly fair. We deal with facts that are demonstrable, supported by sources that are reliable and responsible. We pursue with equal vigour all sides of a story.

Accuracy is fundamental. Discovery of a mistake calls for immediate correction. Corrections to stories already published or broadcast must not be grudging or stingy. They must be written in a spirit of genuinely wanting to right a wrong in the fairest and fullest manner.

Our work is urgent. Speed must be a primary objective of a news service committed to round-the-clock deadlines. But being reliable is always more important than being fast.

Good taste is a constant consideration. Some essential news is essentially repellent. Its handling need not be.

 

STAFF RESPONSIBILITY

Responsibility for upholding Canadian Press standards rests with our reporters, editors and supervisors. So much individuality is involved in reporting, writing and editing news that it is impossible to have precise rules covering every eventuality. Being guided by proven practices is the surest way of meeting the standards that Canadians have come to expect from their national news agency.

Among the most important of these practices:

  1. Investigate fully before transmitting any story or identifying any individual in a story where there is the slightest reason for doubt. When in doubt cut it out. But never make this an excuse for ditching an angle without thorough checking. The doubt must be an honest doubt, arrived at after examination of all the facts.
  2. Cite competent authorities and sources as the origin of any information open to question. Have proof available for publication in the event of a denial.
  3. Be impartial when handling any news affecting parties or matters in controversy. Give fair representation to all sides at issue.
  4. Stick to the facts without editorial opinion or comment. Reporters’ opinions are not wanted in copy. Their observations are. So are accurate backgrounding and authoritative interpretation essential to the reader’s understanding of complicated issues.
  5. Admit errors promptly, frankly. Public distrust of the media is profound and troubling. The distrust is fed by inaccuracy, carelessness, indifference to public sentiment, automatic cynicism about those in public life, perceived bias or unfairness and other sins suggesting arrogance.
  6. The Canadian Press can help overcome such public attitudes through scrupulous care for facts and unwavering dedication to fairness. We must not be quick to dismiss criticism and complaints, a trait journalists refuse to accept in others.
  7. The power of news stories to injure can reach both the ordinary citizen and the corporate giant. The Canadian Press’s integrity and sensitivity demand that supervisors and staff respond sympathetically and quickly when an error has been made. It doesn’t matter whether the complaint comes from a timid citizen acting alone or from a powerful figure’s battery of lawyers.
  8. Every story shown to be erroneous and involving a corrective must be drawn to the attention of supervisory staff.

 

ETHICAL BEHAVIOUR

Part of our responsibility as journalists is to ensure we don’t do anything that demeans the craft or weakens our credibility. Because we deliver the bad news about politicians who turn dirty, caregivers who abuse their trust and business people who discard ethics for gain, we must observe stringent ethical practices, and be seen to be doing so.

It is impossible to raise all potential ethical challenges in this book. But the following guiding principles are offered in the spirit of wanting to advance, not restrain, our work.

  1. Pride in yourself and in the practice of journalism nourishes ethical behaviour.
  2. The Canadian Press pays its own way. Staff should not accept anything that might compromise our integrity or credibility.
  3. The Canadian Press does not pay newsmakers for interviews, to take their pictures or to film or record them.
  4. Canadian Press reporters do not misrepresent themselves to get a story. They always identify themselves as journalists.

 

IMPARTIALITY

Impartiality is somewhat like exercise. You have to work out regularly to build tone and strength.

The best exercise for impartiality is to stop regularly and ask yourself: “Am I being as impartial, honest and fair as I can be?”

Some other guides to impartiality:

Parties in controversy, whether in politics or law or otherwise, receive fair consideration. Statements issued by conflicting interests merit equal prominence, whether combined in a single story or used at separate times.

But always try to get opposing sides for simultaneous publication.

If an attack by one group or person on another has been covered, any authoritative answer is also carried. If a proper source cannot be reached, say so, and keep trying.

When a comparative unknown expresses controversial views, question his or her expertise on the subject. If there is no expertise, or the individual does not have an official position that puts weight behind the views, consider carefully whether the report should be carried.

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