Ethics

Canada's National Observer strives to meet the highest standards of ethical and responsible journalism. Below are the 10 guidelines that all contributors and staff undertake to meet in every report, every investigation, every opinion piece and article we publish.

The editorial team of Canada's National Observer is responsible for the editorial and op-ed pages, as well as content on the Opinion section of NationalObserverver.com. That includes editorials, opinion pieces and commentary under the National Observer brand byline.

On some pages you will see bylines from news agencies rather than staff. As with most media organizations, we work with trusted 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.

We maintain the highest procedures and practices of fact checking and vetting to ensure our content is verified and free of error. If a mistake is made it is corrected at the earliest opportunity and republished with an editor’s note. We endeavor, always, to recognize our failings, earn from them and strive to improve.

We welcome 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.
  11. Our journalists will not be assigned to any topic with a conflict of interest or perceived conflict of interest for fact-based journalism.

For opinion based articles or analysis, perceived conflict of interest should be disclosed and our standards require that the article is still verified. Any source of funding or other assistance on any article is disclosed and transparent for our audience.

The Trust Mark logo indicates that Canada’s National Observer is a member of the Trust Project consortium. Through its ongoing collaboration with the public and top news executives around the world, and with the support of big search and social media companies, the consortium is defining both public-facing and technical standards for quality journalism that can be easily recognized anywhere. It is an acknowledgement of the ongoing commitment to diversity fairness and accuracy in our reporting.

Diverse voices and statement

As one of the few media companies founded by a female editor-in-chief and owned by a majority of female shareholders, National Observer is committed to addressing the national media representation by making sure women, visible minorities, religious minorities, Indigenous voices and people of different sexual orientation are given a voice and opportunity to work with National Observer.

The complex issues we face as a society require respect for different views. Race (ethnicity), class, generation, gender and geography all affect point of view. Reflecting these differences in our reporting leads to more rigorous journalism, more nuanced stories and a better-informed community.

Corrections policy

Factual corrections are made as quickly as possible. We disclose any material changes to the content of a story, including the date of the correction and what information was changed. Material changes include verifiable facts, including name spellings, location, numbers, dates or other information that impacts the content of a story. Please get in touch at [email protected] for corrections.

Fact-checking standards

National Observer commits to do its best to publish accurate information across all of its content. We take many steps to ensure accuracy, including verification of content, confirming information with subject-matter experts and corroboration of what sources tell us by talking with other informed people or consulting documents.

Mission statement with coverage priorities

National Observer vigorously pursues stories that seek to identify and explore problems in society. We also aggressively pursue stories about success and innovation to ensure that decision makers and members of the public are empowered to make informed choices.

We strive to be a leader in reporting on the new economy to deliver stories that can be used to protect public health, rights, the environment and hold governments to account on addressing and mitigating the threat of climate change.

We strive to meet a high standard of ethics and to build trust and a loyal, engaged audience through transparency, accountability and evidence-based reporting.

We are committed to producing journalism that is accurate, fair and complete, and our journalists strive to act with honesty, transparency and independence, including from conflicts of interest.

Unnamed sources policy

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. Our position should be that we only allow sources to remain unnamed / 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.

Public engagement policy

The public can get in touch with National Observer through the Contact page, or by writing to [email protected] We also respond to messages on social media including Twitter and Facebook.

National Observer has a policy of responding to public feedback. Whenever possible, our reporters and editors will reply to comments beneath articles posted on the website, and will directly respond to constructive criticism sent through email. Your feedback can help develop our stories or line of coverage, and we have already modified some editorial policies in response to suggestions from experts and diverse communities in our audience.

Privacy policy

At the NationalObserver.com we respect our readership and value personal privacy. We understand the nature of the information given to us and value the importance of protecting this information in accordance with the Personal Information Protection Act.

All personal information submitted to the NationalObserver.com is kept confidential as described below and normally only viewed by the NationalObserver team. It is not sold or related to any other organization or company without prior consent.

We do not disclose Personal Information to others, without first, attempting to notify you.

We take reasonable steps to protect your Personal Information.

We maintain reasonably physical, technical, and procedural measures to limit access to Personal Information to authorized individuals with appropriate purposes and protocols. As set out in our terms of use, we will endeavour to notify you first but reserve the right to disclose any information necessary to satisfy legal requirement, regulation, and government request or to preserve our rights.

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