Ethics

The CAJ’s ethics advisory committee was formed to consider and provide advice on ethical issues faced by journalists through the course of the regular work. Members are appointed by the CAJ’s national board of directors and its chair is appointed by the board from among the committee members.
The ethics advisory committee is currently chaired by Ryerson professor Ivor Shapiro, and also has an online home at j-source.ca, where Shapiro moderates the Canadian Journalism Project’s ethics pages.
Click the links below to read relevant policies, discussion papers and committee reports as written by the committee and presented to the national board.


Ethics guidelines

This document – along with the accompanying “Principles for Ethical Journalism” – is intended to help both seasoned professionals and new journalists to hold themselves accountable for professional work.



Principles for Ethical Journalism

Journalists have the duty and privilege to seek and report the truth, encourage civic debate to build our communities, and serve the public interest. We vigorously defend freedom of expression and freedom of the press as guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We return society’s trust by practising our craft responsibly and respecting our fellow-citizens’ rights.



What does informed consent really mean for journalists and their interview subjects?

Details of people’s emotional or financial health, or traumatizing experiences, are sought after and valued as content by journalists for precisely the same reasons they are often (but not always) protected by academic researchers and health-care practitioners: the potential impact of publicizing this information. — Meredith Levine reflects on the informed consent discussion paper



On the record: Is it really consent without talk of consequences?

What do we owe the people we include in the story? Is there any obligation to let them know what might happen as a result of being featured in a story in print or online or on television and radio? — Esther Enkin reflects on these questions and the discussion paper on informed consent.



On the record: Is it really informed consent without discussion of consequences?

We remain committed to serving the public interest, but we have come to recognize the need to be mindful in our approach to sources, and that in an environment where every action and utterance can be magnified through social media, we must think about sources in a different way.



Live chat: What is Journalism? Live discussion with CAJ report author Patrick Brethour

Join us Thursday at 1 p.m. EST to talk about the CAJ Ethics Comittee’s latest report: What is Journalism? Report author Patrick Brethour will be answering your questions and engaging in discussion about what journalism is. The live chat will be moderated by J-Source ethics editor Romayne Smith Fullerton. Use the hashtag #WhatIsJournalism on Twitter to follow the conversation.



CAJ discussion paper – “What is journalism?” (news release)

In the fall, the Canadian Association of Journalists asked its ethics advisory committee to weigh in on the question of journalists and journalism. With ever-changing sands that continue to shift in our industry, it’s a question that can change depending on which of those grains you’ve got in your scope. Ask someone what they think journalism is and prepare to receive a wide array of responses.



What is Journalism? The CAJ’s ethics committee takes a stab at definition

When the Canadian Association of Journalists’ ethics advisory committee reluctantly took up the task of defining journalism, it struggled, at first, to find a way forward. Then, writes Patrick Brethour, it stumbled on a solution: define what journalism is not



“What is Journalism?” – CAJ ethics committee report

It used to be that everyone knew, or thought they knew, what journalism was and who journalists were. Those were the days when journalists served as the gatekeepers to public information—an idea that now seems archaic.



Best practices in digital accuracy and correction

In recognition of the obligations of journalists to pursue accuracy and to be accountable for their work, the Canadian Association of Journalists’ Principles for Ethical Journalism states: “When we make a mistake, we correct it promptly and ungrudgingly, and in a manner that matches the seriousness of the error.” This is not a new idea, but digital publishing raises new challenges for defining best practices in corrections.