At the Aboriginal Media Seminar in March, one of the speakers pointed out that as journalists, broadcasters and newsprint publishers; every now and then we had to remind our readers about how we operate. We should explain the methods, ways and rules the Nation has set for ourselves as a newsmagazine.
So here it goes. The Nation exists for the Eastern James Bay Crees first and foremost. It will attempt to cover other issues and First Nations as much as it reasonably can. The Nation has a Cree bias. This has nothing to do with objectivity or philosophy. Any newspaper, radio broadcast or television show has a bias. It is cultural and based on where and when you grew up. All you can do is be aware of it and go on from there.
I know some people like to call us the Nation..al Enquirer. This is because we handle some difficult or controversial issues at times. The Nation believes it should seek to provide fair and understandable knowledge as well as the heat in commenting on controversial issues. We will place calls to everyone and will attempt to contact them. If our calls go unanswered within a reasonable amount of time, we will go forward with the story.
With this in mind, though, a newspaper’s first duty is to provide the public with accurate information. We will still attempt to have a follow-up story to include whatever we have missed.
The Nation will correct inaccuracies promptly. We have done so in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
In the interest of credibility, a story, feature or column will disclose any possible conflict of interest on the part of the writer. You will notice that on our stories about South America, we clearly mentioned that funding came from CIDA, a government agency. This is an example of possible conflict of interest. If we receive any money or there is reason to believe someone can’t do a story because of personal reason we discuss it internally and determine the correct way to go about solving the problem.
Unless the information is directly relevant to the news story or opinion column the Nation will avoid publishing material which encourages discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, ancestry, gender, religion, marital status, physical or mental disability, age or sexual orientation. We will, however, publish stories that show when a person, government department or business discriminates against anyone based on the above criteria.
The Nation does not sneak into your bedroom or boardroom. Our rules say the Nation and its reporters should use upfront methods to get information and photographs. The use of subterfuge is only acceptable when the material sought after is in the public interest and can not be obtained by any other means.
The Nation and all newspapers should defend their hard-won right to exercise the widest possible latitude in expressing opinions, no matter how controversial or unpopular the opinions may be, and to give columnists and others the same latitude in expressing personal opinions. However, the Nation and its reporters will strive to avoid expressing comment and conjecture as established fact.
Journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information and as such, the Nation will protect, and has protected, those sources as well.
Columnists are given wide latitude to express controversial opinions but, when they present what purports to be a statement of fact, they have to ensure that it is accurate. If the statement is found to be in error, the Nation is prepared to promptly publish a correction or clarification.
The Nation has the right (as does anyone) to express controversial or unpopular opinions but readers deserve to know whose opinions they are; provocative statements in an unsigned column should be identified somewhere as the newspaper’s viewpoint or should otherwise be attributed. It is not reasonable to expect that an editorial will include every point the Nation intends to make. There is no reason to expect the Nation to change its editorial position because a preponderance of published letters to the editor disagrees with it. At the same time, the Nation has a right to rethink its opinion without having to apologize to critics of its previous position.
In the end, though, the Nation exists to serve you, the reader.