At the request of Newspapers Canada, Ryerson University’s journalism research centre will look to compare existing models of press councils in Canada, understand their purposes and examine their effectiveness.

Months after the Sun chain kicked the Ontario Press Council in the knees, a new study will look at whether the watchdog groups have a purpose.

At the request of Newspapers Canada, Ryerson University’s journalism research centre will look to compare existing models of press councils in Canada, understand their purposes and examine their effectiveness.

Ivor Shapiro, the chair of Ryerson’s School of Journalism will oversee the study. He described it as “timely and appropriate” based on the fact the councils were established 40 years ago at a time when newspapers’ work was almost exclusively local and delivered in print. This is in stark contrast to now, when local news can quickly reach a national or international audience.

“Today, some provincial councils are no longer active, and there appears to be disparity from one council to the next with respect to policies, procedures, and codes of conduct,” Shapiro said in a release issued by Newspapers Canada.

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The broader goal of the study is to make sure that public concerns about journalistic practices are heard and addressed, ensuring news organizations’ accountability.

John Honderich, chair of the board of TorStar, has given an arms-length personal donation to support the study. Honderich’s father, Beland Honderich, was instrumental in launching Ontario’s press council in 1972.

Shapiro will present the initial findings on April 28, 2012 at a national newspaper conference in Toronto.