My June 16 complaint:
Just as politicians and lobby groups must publicize their sources of funding in order to be accountable to the public, reporters seeking to inform that same public must make this information a prominent part of their stories in order to provide relevant context to readers. Particularly when a new political interest group appears on the scene, reporters have an obligation to provide readers with a complete picture of who this group is, why they have emerged, and who has provided the funds to make their emergence possible.
I believe Dene Moore made a significant omission in the June 15, 2014 story,“Pipeline opponents ready provincial campaign,” (which ran in news organizations which belong to the Ontario Press Council) by omitting a great deal of information about the nature of the “pipeline opponents” featured in his story — the Dogwood Initiative — particularly who provides their funding as outlined in this article:http://opinion.financialpost.com/2013/04/08/vivian-krause-joyce-murrays-real-backers-are-american-environmentalist-groups/
Considering that many political activist groups these days are open fronts for special interest lobbies, reporters should be aware that their neutral coverage can be compromised by omitting critical details about who is providing the funding for mysterious new groups suddenly exerting great influence over our political debates.
A correction needs to be issued by CP and a statement from the Ontario Press Council that condemns omitting such details in further stories on this and other similar issues.
Update: My complaint has been accepted:
I have notified the Globe and Mail that the issue will be placed on the agenda of the next meeting of the Press Council, which is a voluntary organization which met last week and won’t meet again until September. Thank you for providing the link to a member paper.
Ontario Press Council
The response I received today:
The Ontario Press Council considered your complaint against the Globe and Mail regarding coverage of the controversial pipeline project. After careful consideration, the Council decided that a hearing should not be scheduled and dismissed the complaint filed, for reasons outlined in this email, a copy of which is forwarded to the Globe’s public editor and will be posted on the Ontario Press Council web site.
Ontario Press Council
Dean Skoreyko vs. Globe and Mail
An article circulated by The Canadian Press and published on the Globe and Mail website should have included information on funding provided to activists opposed to the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline project proposal, says a complaint from Dean Skoreyko.
In filing the complaint, he argued that it is important for journalists to be aware of who is funding activists opposed to the pipeline, and to include information to properly inform the public about who is funding groups that can influence political decisions.
In defending its decision to publish the article, the Globe and Mail noted that it has carried several articles on the debate concerning the pipeline, both for and against the proposal.
Council decided that it is not always possible to provide background information or the political positions of every source of information used in an article and, since this is one aspect of an ongoing controversial topic, other sides will have been presented over the duration of the political debate before a decision is made.
In dismissing the complaint and declining to schedule a hearing, Council also said the story in question primarily focused on the approval process rather than the merits of the pipeline proposal.