As part of our building trust initiative, each Monday in our newsletter, we explain a journalism term or policy.
This week, we looked at how we ensure advertisers aren’t influencing what you read in our stories.
As we noted last week, The Squamish Chief gets 95% of its funding from advertising.
We get another 5% from other sources, including government grants.
The fact is advertisers do not have a say over news stories.
Our most important obligation as ethical journalists is to serve the public.
We decide on stories based on their interest or importance to readers.
Advertisers buy space in our newspapers to be near our well-read stories; they aren’t buying our stories.
To maintain journalistic integrity, there is built-in respect and distance between the sales department and editorial operations.
While we are colleagues and talk about issues or changes in the community, as all employees do, what doesn’t happen is a salesperson saying to the newsroom that they have to write about company X because they bought an advertisement. It simply does not happen.
Ethics, ethics, ethics
One of the first things wannabe reporters learn in journalism school is that there are a lot of ethical guidelines — taught in ethics courses — that guide the profession.
For example, journalists refuse gifts, favours and any other special treatment.
We also do not participate in political or other outside activities that could — or could appear to — influence our coverage.
We very clearly identify any content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.
Of course, not all journalists or media outlets are ethical, and that is on them.
Our reputations in our profession are very powerful, and we work hard to protect them.
Journalists also refrain from working on stories that they have a connection to through family, friends, or business. In a small town, this is harder than in a big city, so in those rare cases where we write something with any of those connections, we disclose that in a note in the story.
We subscribe to the Canadian Association of Journalists Ethics Guidelines and are also members of the National Newsmedia Council of Canada (NNC), a voluntary, self-regulatory ethics body for the English-language news media industry in Canada.
Check out both sites for more about our ethics.
If you want more of this type of behind-the-scenes information about media, sign up for our free newsletter at www.squamishchief.com/account/mailinglist.