Ethics Advisory Committee

The CAJ’s ethics advisory committee considers and provides advice on ethical issues faced by journalists through the course of their regular work. Members are appointed by the CAJ’s national board of directors, and the chair or co-chairs are appointed by the board from among the committee’s members.

The ethics advisory committee is currently co-chaired by Western University’s Meredith Levine and, on an interim basis, Stephen J. A. Ward, Distinguished Lecturer in Ethics at the University of British Columbia.

The rest of the committee’s current members are:

Marc-François Bernier
University of Ottawa
Patrick Brethour
Brunswick News
Bert Bruser
Toronto Star

James Cullingham
Seneca College
Tim Currie
University of King’s College
Kathy English
Toronto Star
Esther Enkin

Deborah Jones
Independent writer
Kirk LaPointe
Self-Counsel Press
Julian Sher

Craig Silverman
BuzzFeed Canada
Lisa Taylor
Ryerson University
Ellen van Wageningen
Windsor Star

Stephen JA Ward
Mike Aiken

Learn more about the committee’s work by browsing its catalogue of policies, discussion papers and reports on key journalism issues.

Ghomeshi case reveals complexity of ‘going public’ to a reporter: Ethics committee

The CAJ's ethics advisory committee offers guidelines that help protect complainants

Paying for information should be the exception, not the rule: Ethics committee

Newsrooms that pay sources for information must be aware of the risks they face and proceed with caution

CAJ demands legal reforms in wake of B.C. secrecy scandal

KAMLOOPS, BC, Oct. 22, 2015 /CNW/ – The Canadian Association of Journalists demands British Columbia Premier Christy Clark take immediate action to reform the province’s records access law following the release of a report that indicates a breathtaking level of secrecy within her administration. In that report, the province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham […]

Newsrooms must confront sponsored content ethical dilemmas

OTTAWA, OCT. 6, 2015 — Newsrooms must establish guidelines that clearly distinguish between what is journalism and what is advertising, says a new discussion paper from the Canadian Association of Journalists’ ethics advisory committee. Content created to serve private interests is inherently different than content published in the public interest, says paper co-author Esther Enkin. […]

How close is too close?

Flickr Photo: hamedmasoumi Most people believe it is not journalism when writers are paid by the political parties or companies they’re writing about. But what about when journalists have relationships with individual sources? How close is too close? Our ethics advisory committee tackles that issue in a new report. Click here to download a PDF, or read past […]

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.

Online comment moderation – report

Readers say the darnedest things in online comments and not all of them are appropriate. Most journalists agree that an online conversation attached to a news or feature story is not the place for name calling, malicious comments, bullying and unrelated rants. However, in the 24-hour, widely accessible online world, there is no magic formula for ensuring a civil exchange of relevant ideas and opinions. Setting the ground rules, monitoring the conversation and being engaged in it can go long way to achieving that goal, says a report by the Canadian Association of Journalists’ ethics advisory committee.

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.