National Observer strives to meet the highest standards of ethical and responsible journalism. Below are the 10 guidelines that all contributors and staff strive to meet in every report, every investigation, every opinion piece and article we publish.
On some pages you will see bylines from news agencies rather than staff. We trust news agencies such as Canadian Press and Associated Press to help us cover the world as fully as possible and to adhere to the highest journalistic standards.
In reviewing these guidelines, it's important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for the profession of journalism. Each situation and assignment is unique, and can require many different approaches. Mistakes will be made and perhaps only discovered after stories are published. But what's important is that we recognize our failings, that we learn from them and strive to improve.
We rely on all members of the public to hold us to account on these guidelines and ensure that we never forget the importance of our role in a free and just society:
1. We report the news responsibly with fairness and accuracy. Our news reporters should avoid bias in our interactions with sources and members of the public on all of the platforms where we communicate. All facts in an article must be backed by at least one primary source. Primary sources can include, but are not limited to:
- Documents that meet the legal standard of evidence.
- A quote from an interview with a reliable source
- Information from a reliable media source so long as the media source and article is referenced
- Information from a juried scientific or medical journal so long as that journal is referenced.
- The relied upon information must be provided in a traceable form, such as a link, in the research material for the article
- The article can not be based on heresay, conjecture or a biased or questionable source. If such information is provided it must be identified as such and not as verified information.
- The editing process shall require the Managing Editor or another person with editorial oversight to confirm the veracity of the primary sources and all data and facts stated in the article
2. We report fearlessly and relentlessly to hold the powerful to account.
3. We recognize that a free and independent press plays an essential role in protecting fundamental human rights, freedoms and democracy.
4. All editorial decisions are made by staff and are not subject to inappropriate interference from advertisers, owners or any other special interest group.
5. In editorials and opinion pieces, we recognize the importance of a healthy debate that is based on evidence, fairness and respect for those who don’t necessarily agree with us.
6. We strive to be sensitive and respectful when dealing with sources. We recognize that they are not obliged to speak to us, but that we are responsible for providing them with the opportunity to speak freely.
7. We identify sources when possible and exercise caution and skepticism about unnamed sources. At the same time, we recognize the courage and role of whistleblowers in society and are mindful that they may face repercussions for speaking truth to power. We only allow sources to remain unnamed or anonymous when there is a real threat to personal safety and / or a serious threat to their employment or future employment. Or when the source must remain unidentified for legal reasons, such as a publication ban.
8. We recognize that mistakes can be made and correct errors as quickly as possible. We disclose any material changes (facts, e.g. name spellings, numbers, dates or other verifiably accurate information) to the content of a story.
9. We recognize that our fundamental role as gatekeepers of information means that we should take steps to verify information provided by sources before sharing it with the public, and distinguish between evidence and speculation.
10. We do not use our jobs to seek personal favours that are unrelated to gathering news. We serve the public, and we are inspired by our desire to inform and engage people about the issues that matter.