During an election campaign, The Globe and Mail refers to politicians by their party title rather than calling them Premier, Prime Minister or Opposition Leader. There are two basic reasons for this, writes the Globe's public editor Sylvia Stead. 

By Sylvia Stead, public editor of The Globe and Mail

There are many passionate advocates for Canadian political parties and some who believe that the news media are biased against their particular party or view.

I wrote this week about the policy of The Globe and Mail and other media during election campaigns of referring to politicians by their party title rather than calling them Premier, Prime Minister or Opposition Leader.

There are two basic reasons for this. One is to reflect the reality that even though they maintain their title of Premier etc. and the job, on the campaign trail they are acting as party leaders. The other is an effort to level the playing field and to not show bias for any particular party.

One reader asked if The Globe and Mail will follow the same policy for the federal election. The fact is that has been the policy of The Globe for some time. Another reader was dubious and provided a link to one article that did not follow the policy.

I checked The Globe's coverage during the 2011 federal election campaign to see how many stories referred to Stephen Harper as Conservative Leader on first reference rather than Prime Minister. The election was on May 2 so I searched the month of April. The search found 492 references to Conservative Leader, 118 to Prime Minister and 103 to Tory Leader. The majority of the Prime Minister references were to Mr. Harper's work as PM during that time, including articles on the royal wedding, the death of former Saskatchewan premier Allan Blakeney, Wiki-Leaks and salmon fisheries policies.

There were also some letters to the editor and several columns about election campaigning in which Mr. Harper was referred to as Prime Minister.</p><p>So it seems clear to me that the policy was mostly, but not perfectly, followed.

To continue reading this column, please go theglobeandmail.com where this was originally published.


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Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.