Apparently there was at least one person running around the Manning Conference this weekend ready to call Conservatives nasty names when speaking to Media Party members:
“There are a lot of core Conservative supporters who don’t live here and don’t realize what a bunch of pr–ks these guys are,’’ said one conservative. (see here)
By not naming, we have to (again) trust an anti-Conservative reporter that this person is: 1) a conservative 2) actually exists.
I’ve asked Tim Harper to explain how it’s ethical journalism to quote an anonymous ‘conservative’ source in this fashion and will update if he responds.
Update: I have now filed a complaint with the president of the Canadian Association of Journalists, Hugo Rodrigues:
Besides contacting you on Twitter, I am asking for your comment on Tim Harper using an anonymous source quoted calling Conservatives “pricks” in his column titled “The gulf between conservative family and Conservative government”.
Your ethics guidelines clearly states “We do not allow anonymous sources to take cheap shots at individuals or organizations” yet this is exactly what Tim Harper has done.
Please inform me what your organization will be doing to enforce this ethics infraction and the disciplinary procedures that are in place to deal with it.
Consider this a formal complaint.
Thank you, I await your response.
Update: Posted below is the CAJ response and my reply:
Journalism is not a regulated profession in Canada. Our ethics guidelines are just that, guidelines. A set of best practices, if you prefer. There is no enforceability to them and we do not investigate complaints about a particular journalist’s conduct based on our ethics guidelines.
I would suggest the following chain of people to contact in order to address your concern:
– Harper himself.
– The Star’s Ottawa bureau chief and/or political editor
– The Star’s editor in chief, Michael Cooke
– The Star’s public editor (ombuds), Kathy English
– The Ontario Press Council, of which The Star is a member.
Of that list, the only who can enforce any sort of consequence are those who supervise the journalist in question.
I hope this has been helpful.
Hugo, thank you for your prompt response. I very much appreciate it.
Your ethics guideline does not suggest a code of conduct, it states a rule without caveat “We do not…”.
If you do not have an enforcement or complaint policy in place, having these policies posted only ends up making a mockery of your organization as it stands. You might as well include the word ‘please’ at the beginning.
I have already contacted Kathy English and will be making further complaints including the Press Council.
Point understood– however, as I stated journalism is not a regulated profession in Canada. Membership in the CAJ (or any other similar body) is not a mandatory part of being a journalist. We have no investigative or enforcement powers as such and to act like we do would be disingenuous.
The only people who can enforce anything on a journalist are her or his employer. For the CAJ to have any kind of complaint or enforcement policy would be redundant– we can take no legal or other action against a journalist that has any consequence.
Our guidelines are written as best practices as I’ve already stated. We’re happy with the way they are written.
I will counter that you do make public statements to complain about cut-backs and lay-offs while choosing not to say anything when a journalist breaks your ethics guidelines.
Yes, we do point out that media companies choose to layoff journalists and that concerns us. That impacts the ability of all journalists to do their best work.
It’s also important for us to be seen supporting our members and other journalists.
A journalist who may or may not do his or her best work isn’t our issue to deal with. As I’ve said twice now, that’s the employer’s issue to deal with based on any complaints they may or may not receive and any infractions of any of their own policies and procedures.
To be clear– we don’t investigate and we don’t rule on complaints brought to our attention because we have no legal power or standing to do so. I’ve advised you on who you can contact to seek the response you wish to your concerns. That’s that.