CAJ Communications Policy

As revised in 2009

Purpose: To ensure the CAJ is communicating effectively with its members and other Canadian journalists regarding the work undertaken by the association and its chapters, caucuses, staff and board.

Questions on the policy should be directed to the communications co-ordinator, or in his/her absence, the CAJ president or executive director.

1. CAJ website

a) The CAJ website is run and maintained by a dedicated website team. This team includes the following representation (roles can be combined):

– CAJ webmaster

– CAJ executive director

– CAJ communications co-ordinator

b) The website shall contain:

– Aims and history of the association

– All CAJ bylaws, policies and procedures enacted by the board

– Dedicated space for all CAJ chapters and caucuses

– A listing of all upcoming events hosted by the CAJ, including chapter and caucus events

– All current and past editions of Media Magazine, the wire member newsletter, membership packages and other promotional material where a hard copy is distributed to members

– Board and committee agendas and reports / minutes

– Current list of board and committee members and their contact information and photographs, detailing each person’s position (IE: national director, regional director, chapter representative, in addition to any executive position, etc.). See contact section below

– A membership services section – where prospective members can sign up and current members can renew their memberships. Promotional membership material should be grouped here, as well as information and links to all services the association provides to members

– All current and archived CAJ news release (or links to them)

– An awards section, promoting and providing information on the CAJ awards programs (IE: annual awards, CAJ-CIDA fellowships, etc.)

– A contact section, listing contact information for the association and its representatives and a ‘suggestion box’ for feedback / input / comments on the website or other CAJ projects and activities.

– A ‘links’ page, with links to all other Canadian journalism organizations, as well as links to the association’s sponsors. There should also be access to other websites promoting journalism excellence.

– Any other content sections deemed appropriate for inclusion within the CAJ website.

c) Website revisions and updates
A current website is key to the association’s ability to communicate electronically with its members and the wider world.

i) The website team will ensure that all news release, member communications along with any necessary revisions to the individual pages are completed within 24 hours of posting / distribution / resolution by the board.

a) CAJ chapters, caucuses and committees are responsible for distributing needed information from their meetings and events on the website. These should be posted as soon as possible.

ii) The team will endeavour to post draft minutes of committee and board meetings within 20 working days of said meeting.

iii) Final minutes, once confirmed by committee or board, shall be posted within 24 hours of ratification by the board or committee.

2. News release

The CAJ issues statements on issues of national and regional importance to journalists. The association also distributes a number of releases that are administrative in nature to advise members and the journalism community of upcoming events, programs, awards, etc.

a) Responsibility
Any member of the board can suggest a topic for a press release. Releases may also be suggested by CAJ chapters, committees and caucuses. Topical statements on issues of importance to journalists should be drafted and approved by consensus agreement among those directors available when the statement is being prepared. Should consensus not be possible, a statement may be posted with approval of two members of the executive.
The executive director and president can approve and release administrative statements (IE: upcoming events, award deadlines, award winners, etc. as outlined in b)iii) and b)iv) below)

i) Spokespeople – The president is the public spokesperson for the association. When possible, a local spokesperson should also be included for news release dealing with regional issues. In the president’s absence, another member of the board may speak for the association.

ii) A French-speaking contact should be included with all news release.

iii) In situations where issuing a timely statement is deemed to be necessary, the board should endeavour to issue a statement in time to capture the news cycle before it expires.

iv) In situations where a full statement cannot be drafted and issued within the news cycle of the issue in question, a brief advisory indicating the CAJ president’s availability for comment can be released.

v) The executive director or designate shall be the sole person to forward news release to the CAJ’s distribution service (CNW Group) and members (via e-mail). The communications co-ordinator shall be responsible for posting the release to the association’s listservs and ensuring it is posted to the website.

vi) The CAJ should gather all information possible from sources deemed appropriate prior to finalizing and releasing statements.

vii) A draft statement could be reviewed by legal counsel prior to release on the recommendation of any member of the national board or the executive director.

b) Content
The CAJ’s existing policies, positions and statements should inform the content of statements and public commentary issued by the association and those speaking on its behalf. The board of directors should endeavour to keep abreast of developments in these areas so that its statements reinforce and reflect these policies and positions.
News release from the association could be issued under the following circumstances:

i) The CAJ intervenes in any legal case involving a journalist, media outlet or media issue, on the recommendation of the advocacy committee or board.

ii) At the resolution of any legal case where the CAJ is involved.

iii) At the start of entry periods for CAJ-sponsored awards or fellowships, as well as when nominees are announced and the final results (administrative release).

iv) Announcements regarding national conferences and symposia, once the organizing committee has finalized a location and tentative agenda (administrative release).

v) When the board, through majority vote (including electronic and teleconference), wishes to makes a statement on an issue of concern to Canadian journalists – such as freedom of the press, competition (diversity of voices) in the media, practice and tools of investigative journalism, journalistic independence, adequate funding of news services, or any other topic agreed to by the board.

vi) The CAJ shall not take sides in labour / management disputes.

c) Distribution
The CAJ currently has a distribution agreement with CNW Group to distribute information nationally, and uses its services for distributing all news release.
In addition to using this or any future service, releases should be distributed to:

i) All CAJ members whose e-mail is registered with the association office

ii) All CAJ-owned, organized or managed listservs

iii) Non-member journalists, via e-mail, at the discretion of the board.
All efforts should be made to ensure members are receiving news release prior to, or simultaneous to, being sent out for national distribution.
All releases should be sent to the national board prior to public release.

3. Regional communications

a) Chapters and caucuses are encouraged to release public statement(s) on issues of concern to the local or regional journalistic community.

b) These statements shall be consistent with this and other CAJ policies and positions.

c) Chapters/caucuses are required to seek support from the CAJ president for any statement they wish to issue on regional journalistic issues of concern.

d) The national board may include chapter/caucus representation and opinion in any statement released that is based on an issue of journalistic concern specific to that region.

e) In case of a disagreement between the national board and a chapter/caucus regarding a draft statement, the disagreement will be settled through a majority decision of the national board’s executive, after consulting with the chapter/caucus and the national board.

g) The association should assist chapters and caucuses with promotion of chapter and caucus meetings and events.

4. Communication to members

a) There exists, from time to time, a need for the board, its committees, caucuses, chapters and/or staff to communicate directly with members via e-mail.

i) It is the member(s)’ responsibility to advise the CAJ office if there should be any change in their mailing address or e-mail address. The association will endeavour to make the needed changes to its database within five working days.

ii) No e-mail communication(s) to members should be distributed without the prior approval of the executive director.

iii) Communications to members shall be posted to the website, under the membership services section, within 24 hours of distribution to members.

5. Statement on bilingual communications

The Canadian Association of Journalists strives to communicate with its members in both official languages. Where feasible, the association will produce written communications in both official languages. When possible, the board will ensure French-speaking staff, board and/or committee members are listed and available for inquiries received in French.

6. Revision

a) Revision of this policy is the responsibility of the communications committee. Any revisions to the policy must be approved by majority vote of the board.

i) This policy shall be reviewed and revised as needed before the conclusion of the communications co-ordinator’s term on the board (every two years).

ii) Any member of the board may suggest revisions to the policy at any time. The proposed revisions to the policy should be reviewed by the communications committee prior to adoption by majority vote of the board.

This policy replaced Sect. 3 of the CAJ Policies (titled ‘Public Statements and CAJ Protocol’), as approved on Nov. 20, 1999.

This policy was unanimously approved by the board of directors during its Oct. 2, 2006 teleconference, and subsequently adopted at the CAJ AGM on May 27, 2007.
Amendments to this policy were approved by the CAJ board in April, 2009, and subsequently adopted at the CAJ AGM, May 24, 2009.