Principles of Responsible Media

by ,


The 2002 Sector Conference of The Newspaper Guild-CWA calls on CanWest Global Communications Corp., the largest player in the Canadian media industry, to formally commit itself to the following principles:

* That each newspaper within its chain of holdings retain full autonomy in the choice and formulation of its editorial opinions, specifically those expressed on its editorial pages;

* That columnists at all newspapers within that chain retain the freedom to express their opinions fully and without prior restraint, especially by CanWest Global's corporate headquarters. Editing of columns should take place within the newspaper of origin, and be limited to issues of factual accuracy, grammar and style -- not the opinions which a columnist puts forward;

* That the appropriate editors at each newspaper be free to make their decisions as to story and photo assignment, story and photo selection, and relative placement of stories, photos, headlines and other layout elements strictly on journalistic criteria, not according to the dictates of the CanWest Global corporate headquarters;

* And finally, that rigorous adherence to the above principles by both journalists and media management is not only a public trust, but a precondition for the credibility that is any media outlet's core asset and the only reliable foundation for its financial success.

Principles of Quality Journalism and Responsible Media

1. Diversity -- to promote the widest possible dissemination of information; to assure the use of a variety of authoritative news sources; and to provide a wide range of opinions that will frame the analysis and interpretation of events and information that affect citizens locally, nationally and globally.

2. Local Identity -- media and journalism should preserve the identity and values of the local communities, reflect the views and values of the various communities within the local community, as well as educate communities about national and global perspectives.

3. Just and Respectful Employment Practices -- democratic principles of worker representation and participation as the means to promote working conditions that foster quality and independent journalism; to continually produce quality journalism, workers must be offered opportunities to improve and advance their skills and be assured that their new skills and contributions will be fairly rewarded.

4. Comprehensive Coverage -- each form of media relies on different technology to disseminate news, information and entertainment to our communities. The technology offers different strengths: the immediacy of radio and television, the visual impact of TV, the interactive capabilities of radio, the in-depth analysis of print journalism. Assuring each form of media its role in the responsibility of transmitting and interpreting information according to its strengths assures comprehensive coverage and access to information.

5. Financial arrangements must enhance and support the other principles of quality journalism. Media ownership must be: transparent to the public; preserve and foster the diversity of content, opinion and perspective; honor just and respectful employment practices; diverse in itself to assure comprehensive coverage, full public access to all news, information, and entertainment through a variety of media technology.

These principles of quality journalism lead us to support the continuation of the ban against cross-ownership.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey