When a then 25-year-old Ben Peterson launched a global media development organization called Journalists for Human Rights in 2002, he faced his share of critics, skeptics and naysayers for somehow tainting the notion of “objectivity” in journalism. Fast forward 11 years, Journalists for Human Rights has become Canada’s largest media development charity. And as its founder put it, “If journalism isn’t for human rights, what is it for?” Kathy English, the Toronto Star's public editor, writes that no journalist need stand down from being for human rights.
A reader wondered: “Why does The Globe persist in using the sexist … and outdated term ‘schoolgirls’ in reference to the victims of Paul Bernardo? Public editor Sylvia Stead writes it may be time to find a better description.
Especially during times of ethnic tensions, it is much more important to tread carefully and not make connections that aren’t proven or even real, writes The Globe and Mail's public editor Sylvia Stead.
A complainant said a CBC News story from Calgary unfairly singled out the pit bull to sensationalize the story and that the media has created the bias against these dogs. But CBC ombudsman Esther Enkin did not find any policy violation.
Tyler Olsen, a photographer for the Chilliwack Times in British Columbia, had questions about CBC’s use of a photograph from his paper when they were covering a news story. He acknowledged it was allowed under a Copyright Act provision called fair dealing, but asked the CBC's ombudsman if the use of his photo was ethical, and what CBC’s practice is.
Kathy English, the Toronto Star's public editor, questions why journalists are being blocked in obtaining information that would have been readily available to them had they been in public court to witness the proceedings.
A complainant accused CBC of siding with the supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in its coverage of demonstrations in Toronto. During the height of the unrest in Egypt, she thought only a pro-Morsi rally had been covered in Toronto when a group of Coptic Christians held a rally the same week end. In fact, CBC had a story about the Coptic demonstration on The National, and all platforms had provided coverage of the concerns of the community here as well as stories about attacks on churches in Egypt, writes the CBC ombudsman Esther Enkin.
The complainant, Jon Melanson, thought the wording of a headline indicated CBC was taking the side of the Liberal party. CBC's ombudsman Esther Enkin responds that while it may have not been the most elegant headline ever written, it was not inaccurate and the story was balanced.
If done well, a photo caption can elevate the story, writes the Globe and Mail's public editor Sylvia Stead. A bad cutline, by contrast, will tell the reader something that they can figure out on their own.
For all the attention to who generates the greatest number of references, perhaps the most important question is not about whether the coverage is equal but whether it fairly explains each party’s platform, writes The Globe and Mail's public editor Sylvia Stead.