OTTAWA / June 4, 2019 / CNW—Officials from the Department of Canadian Heritage have agreed to one of the CAJ’s key transparency requests for the government’s proposed Journalism and Written Media Independent Panel of Experts that will review definitions and criteria that will offer new tax credits to news organizations and their subscribers.

On May 30, the CAJ called for the government to waive any requirement that panel members sign confidentiality agreements. As a result of the CAJ’s advocacy, that requirement has now been waived. The CAJ remains concerned that the government has not agreed to a number of other basic transparency requirements, including publishing online a list of which organizations apply for funding, and making meeting minutes of the panel publicly available.

Despite these ongoing concerns, the CAJ board has agreed to appoint Esther Enkin as its representative to the panel. This decision to participate was carefully considered. In a recent survey of our membership, more than two-thirds of respondents indicated that the CAJ should be involved in the panel’s deliberations. As a national organization run by and for working journalists, we believe we are best positioned to champion ongoing concerns about transparency, independence, and process.

Enkin was CBC ombudsperson for six years. She also was a guest lecturer at journalism schools on issues of ethics, accountability, trust, and the impact of social media on journalism and journalism ethics. Before becoming ombudsperson, Enkin led a comprehensive update of CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices, including new provisions for digital publishing and social media.  In her previous role as executive editor of CBC News, she oversaw standard and practice on a daily basis.

She was one of the founding producers of The Journal and her documentaries won several international awards. While most of her career was in broadcasting, she got her start in the business as a summer student at the Ottawa Citizen.

Enkin is immediate past president of the Organization of News Ombudsmen and Standard Editors, an international group with members on almost every continent.

Through her involvement with the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, she was one of the creators of Mind-Set, a guide to mental health reporting for journalists.

The CAJ will continue to push for full independence of the panel and the complete list of transparency measures it has been advocating for over the past five months. The CAJ will also inform its members, and the public at large, if political appointees or public servants disregard the panel’s recommendations on how to define eligibility for tax measures or the composition of the second panel.

On May 21, the CAJ received an invitation along with seven other journalism industry groups to appoint a member to the panel. The mandate will be to assist the federal government in defining which news organizations will qualify for the three tax credits outlined in Budget 2019, and which jobs qualify for a proposed labour tax credit. The panel will also make recommendations with respect to the work of a second panel that will review applications for eligibility.

The Canadian Association of Journalists is a professional organization with more than 700 members across Canada. The CAJ's primary roles are public-interest advocacy work and professional development for its members.

For more information:

Karyn Pugliese, CAJ president

[email protected]


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