OTTAWA, April 8, 2020 /CNW/—The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) is disturbed to hear from journalists who say their stories are being vetted to ensure advertisers are kept happy.
While the CAJ cannot confirm the practice is widespread, several journalists have reported that their news stories are being reviewed to ensure they do not contain anything that would offend the business community, in the interest of preventing ad losses.
Sales staff have also reportedly offered favourable coverage as incentives for advertising packages.
While recognizing the times are desperate and frightening for newsrooms, this is not the way to shore up revenues.
These practices are not acceptable, violate widely accepted best practices of journalism and violate the journalism policies of many newsrooms.
“If you are in ad sales, or are a business seeking to advertise, we ask that you respect journalistic ethical standards,” says CAJ president Karyn Pugliese. “The value of a news service lies in the public’s trust that journalism it produces is fair and independent.”
Media companies have been suffering revenue losses since the onset of COVID-19. Many businesses pulled or did not renew ads when they were declared non-essential and closed due to government-enforced social distancing measures.
Since March 16, there have been more than 600 temporary or permanent layoffs of staff working in the news industry in Canada. That number likely underestimates job losses as many news organizations are not transparently reporting the full breadth of cuts.
Staff at other news outlets have accepted salary cuts hoping to avoid layoffs including The Winnipeg Free Press, La Presse and BuzzFeed (which maintains a small news office in Toronto).
The CAJ is monitoring practices that harm journalists’ ability to do their work independently. Please contact us if you are impacted, or if you hear of a business that is seeking unethical concessions from your newsrooms.
“Journalists write news, not ads,” says Pugliese.
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 contact:
Karyn Pugliese, CAJ president
Brent Jolly, CAJ vice-president