Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Ethics in media

Updated 15/7/11

Sun Media has severed its ties with the Ontario Press Council.

Makes sense. Why would a newspaper chain with ethics that are often questioned by readers volunteer to be challenged by a body that investigates reader complaints?

You have a beef about Sun Media newspaper content? Lump it.

The Globe and Mail story, with more than 225 comments, is here.

Much more here

And a UK blogger

The Ontario Press Council response in a CP story.


  1. No, don't lump it. Take it to the advertisers directly. Be specific, and be polite. It's amazing what 5 people calling one corporate head office in a week can accomplish.

  2. Not surprising. Maybe they got wind that someone in a position to raise a stink finally realized that the newspaper chain that has been trashing the CBC at every opportunity just happens to operate one of the CBC's competitors. Whether the CBC deserves the criticism and the calls for its abolishment is beside the point; the Sun's been in conflict of interest on this ever since Sun TV was announced.

  3. The reason the press council is good for papers is that people who bring a complaint before it waive the right to sue. Meaning the only way to seek redress against a Sun paper after this is to launch a lawsuit. Frivolous or not, even defending a position that is completely in the right costs tens of thousands of dollars and ties up a lot of time for the reporter, the editor and I would assume Sanjay in India who designed the page, as anyone who has been through this process knows. Losing costs much more, and they WILL lose - nobody gets libel or legal seminars these days and the law is changing all the time - look at the proposed revisions to the YOA.

  4. The sad part is Sun Media seems to be flaunting the fact they're pulling out. It's posted company-wide on their websites.

  5. Sue-Ann Levy will be thrilled.

  6. Anon 10:54pm, that's nothing new. They did the same thing when they asked Bell to pull their channels off the air, but tried to make it look like it was Bell's doing.

  7. The Toronto Sun must be getting too many complaints about its decision to publish that embarrassing Kate Middleton photo. The Sun has apparently removed the picture from its web site.

    The Sun initially held the picture for two days before running it. Is this because the photo violated the media rules and publishing it sooner would've had the Sun kicked off the tour? (I've covered eight royal tours).

    The Sun tried to mitigate any potential fallout by (i) (wrongly) claiming that the same/similar photos by other photographers were "circling the globe"; (ii) likening the photo to a fun, posed, publicity picture of Marilyn Monroe; and (iii) claiming the picture was "compelling and newsworthy".

    No other wire services moved the picture. No other paper published it. Even British tabs refused to use a similar picture.

  8. Hey now! Sun papers are still designed locally!!! That Sanjay comment is unjust and completely ignorant!

  9. Re the Kate photo:

    Can't imagine how Christina Blizzard would have reacted had the photo been published before Kate and William left Canada. It would have been a royal embarrassment for the veteran Sun Media columnist.

  10. Definitely was a cheap shot that served no purpose except to embarrass.

  11. Some people commenting should know this - no pages are designed in India, why do people always assume this?

  12. @Anonymous 14 July, 2011 9:56 PM

    Because people who comment here aren't journalists, just losers with an axe to grind. Why check the facts when you're just making a quick attack?

  13. So it's just the ads that are designed in India? Don't worry, I'm sure editorial pagination will follow sooner or later.

  14. @Anonymous 7:24 a.m.

    The "losers with an axe to grind" are those who actually proudly call Sun Media home.
    It actually explains the "here's a picture of Michael Ignatieff in Kuwait... oh wait, no it's not" controversy of a few months back quite well. Talk about non-journalists making a "quick attack" while not checking the facts.
    Sun Media may as well pull out of the Ontario Press Council. Its' ethics were limited to absent to begin with.

  15. @Anonymous 7:24 a.m.

    I'm a journalist and I work for a daily in the chain. When I comment on here, which is rare, I know what I am talking about.
    Believe it or not, some of us in the chain still care about our profession. We may not care for the company's ethics and the way it approaches things, but we have a job to do.
    And since there are few journalism jobs out there, we suck it up and keep working.

  16. So with Sun Media not being part of the Ontario Press Council anymore, does this mean I can't complain about the fake news picture on the front page of today's Toronto Sun (July 22)? The Sun ran a cheap photo ($3.75?) bought from a US web site and passed it off as a current Canadian news picture of a "war criminal".

    What about the factually-incorrect story on page two? All other Toronto papers got the facts correct but then they used their own people to report the story. The Toronto Sun got the story from a cheap, non-news, US company.


    re: "I'm a journalist and I work for a daily in the chain. ... We may not care for the company's ethics and the way it approaches things, but we have a job to do. And since there are few journalism jobs out there, we suck it up and keep working."

    Actually, there are many journalism jobs out there, except, perhaps, if you live in a smaller town/city. Most jobs are unadvertised. The hard part is letting go of your deck chair and jumping into the ocean.

    Friends of mine recently got hired at the Toronto Star, Globe+Mail, National Post and Reuters. One person had his choice of five editing jobs. There are currently at least six Toronto jobs just quietly sitting and waiting for someone to apply.

  17. Is this a conflict of interest and/or unethical behaviour:

    August 16, Toronto Sun front page plus two full inside pages: A story written and photographed by a Sun reporter about his relative who needs money for a new wheelchair, and some extra cash for other health issues would be nice too. The reporter disclosed that the man is his relative.

    Predictably, as soon as the paper hit the streets on August 16, many thousands of dollars and offers of new wheelchairs flooded into the paper.

    August 17, Toronto Sun front page plus two inside pages: Sun employee relative is happy and amazed that cash is pouring in. The Toronto Sun promotes a bank account where more cash can be sent. Keep those donations coming in, please.

    There are at least 116 other people in Toronto in the same boat as this man. There are over 8,000 Toronto people who are in desperate financial need to help with their health care costs. Where is their fundraising "telethon"?

    In stories like this, where someone needs financial help, it's 100% guaranteed that good samaritans will step forward with donations. 100% guaranteed. The Sun, and all other papers, know this.

    And the donated money is tax-free, too!

    While I have absolutely no doubt that this man needs financial help, it was unethical for the Sun to publish a story written by a Sun employee about his relative. The one-sentence disclosure doesn't make it okay.

    Had the Sun article also profiled several other people in a similar situation, then fine.

    But it's unethical to write only about a Sun employee's relative, ask for money for that Sun employee's relative and then promote a bank account asking for more money for the Sun employee's relative.

    There were ways to do this story properly and ethically, and in a way that would've benefitted many other people in the same boat.

    Instead, the Sun chose the quick and cheap path that benefitted only one person, a Sun employee relative.