The CAJ Ethics Committee of the Canadian Association of Journalists is a panel of scholars, teachers and practitioners of journalism who address questions about ethical practice raised by the association's board, by journalists, by members of the public or by committee members themselves.
The committee's chair, vice-chairs and members are appointed by the CAJ board.
When the committee decides to explore a new question, it usually appoints a panel to research and write a report which is then discussed by the committee as a whole and, when approved, forwarded to be "received" by the CAJ board before being pubished - usually on J-Source, and usually together with an explanatory or exploratory article or summary by a member of the panel.
The reports are collected both here in the committee's space on J-Source and on the CAJ website.
In addition to its periodic reports, the committee created the CAJ's Principles for Ethical Journalism and Ethics Guidelines, is responsible for considering periodic amendments and updates to those documents, and presents occasional educational events including relevant sessions at the CAJ's annual conference.
The opinions expressed in the committee's reports represent are those the members who write these reports, and the board of the CAJ neither approves nor contributes to these reports.
Questions about the committee's work should be addressed to the chair.
Members of the committee
Chair: MEREDITH LEVINE
Meredith Levine has been on faculty at the Graduate Journalism Program at Western since 2006. Previous to this she spent two years with McMaster’s medical school teaching professionalism and ethics to graduating medical students. As a journalist, she worked for a decade at CBC national radio current affairs creating programs and in depth series on social and health issues. Meredith also worked as a writer/producer of TV documentaries with Breakthrough Films. As a freelance print journalist, she has published in the NY Times, The Nation, the Newstateman (UK), the Globe and Mail and several Canadian magazines. Meredith has collaborated with Dr. Gordon Guyatt, the Godfather of evidence-based medicine, on several research projects focused on incorporating patient perspectives into treatment guidelines, the most recent of which will be published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. Meredith recently completed her M.J. (thesis stream) at Carleton University for which she was awarded The Senate Medal for Outstanding Academic Achievement.
Marc-François Bernier (Ph. D. in Political Science) is Full Professor at the Department of Communication of the University of Ottawa and has been Chair of the Research Chair in Journalism Ethics from 2008 to 2014, at the same university.
He is interested by the efficiency, the credibility and the legitimacy of traditional and innovative mechanisms of media accountability (self-regulation and co-regulation). His research focuses also on the impacts of convergence and media concentration on quality, diversity and integrity of journalism. He has also completed a survey of ethical journalism in French speaking minority communities in Canada, as well as press mediators (Public Editors) in three media in France.
Journalist for 20 years, particularly in local and provincial politics, he has been one of the co-authors of the Québec professional journalists code of ethics. He has written several books on journalism and acts as an expert witness in civil courts in disputes relating on ethics and sociology of journalism.
Patrick Brethour is currently the Brunswick News as its editor-in-chief. For 18 years, Brethour was The Globe and Mail British Columbia bureau chief and was the Alberta bureau chief, reporting on energy, economic and political news in the province from 2002 to 2006. During the dot-com boom, he reported on technology from Toronto. He joined the Globe in 1996; before that, he worked at the Ottawa Citizen in various capacities.
Tim Currie teaches online journalism at the University of King's College in Halifax, including undergraduate multimedia production workshops and a master's course in social media. He is an award-winning researcher and is co-editor of The New Journalist: Roles, Skills, and Critical Thinking (2010).
Kathy English, Public Editor at the Toronto Star. She began her journalism career at the Brantford Expositor in 1976 and was a Star reporter and feature writer from 1983-1989. She has reported and edited for the Hamilton Spectator, London Free Press, Toronto Sun, and The Globe and Mail. She taught newspaper journalism at Ryerson School of Journalism for 10 years. In her sabbatical year from Ryerson, she completed a Master’s degree in Canadian history, writing a thesis on 20th century newspaper ownership trends and the demise of family ownership in Canadian newspapers. After departing from Ryerson's journalism faculty in 1989, she launched websites for two Canadian media companies, SunMedia and Transcontinental Media, and also directed the launch of the San Francisco-based parenting website, BabyCenter Canada. Kathy served on the board of the National Newspaper Awards for 5 years and is a current board member of the Association of Newspaper Ombudsmen. She also serves on the programming committee of the Canadian Journalism Foundation and on the board of the Gordon Sinclair Foundation.
Esther Enkin, Ombudsman, CBC English Services. Esther Enkin took over the post in January, 2013. Before that she was Executive Editor and Deputy Editor in Chief of CBC News. In 2010, along with a colleague, she was in charge of rewriting and redeveloping CBC’s journalistic standards and practices. Ms. Enkin occupied several key positions at CBC News, including Head of Information Programming and Chief Journalist, Deputy Managing Editor, Senior Assignment Editor, Senior Editor for the World at Six and Field Producer for The Journal, where her documentaries won several international journalism awards. She is Vice-President of the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, as well as Vice-President of the Organization of News Ombudsmen (ONO).
Deborah Jones is an independent, non-commercial writer, and the editor of FactsandOpinions.com. For more than 30 years Jones covered breaking news, social and economic policy, and science, mostly for Agence France-Presse, Time Magazine, and Canada’s Globe and Mail. She has freelanced for publications ranging from the New York Times to medical journals and several magazines, and also on staff as a Canadian Press desker and on the Vancouver Sun editorial board. Her continuing education includes undergraduate biology, economics, and political science; post-graduate creative writing (certificate, University of Oxford), and Graduate Liberal Studies (Master of Arts, Simon Fraser University, where she serves on the GLS steering committee). Professional and academic interests focus on civility, freedom of thought and expression, and ecology. She contends that public relations, and media business models reliant on advertising, are antithetical to journalism.
Jones's journalism advocacy includes membership from 1979 in the Centre for Investigative Journalism (later Canadian Association of Journalists), for which she has volunteered as president of the Halifax chapter, vice-president of the national board, and moderator of the CAJ online discussion forum. After leaving the CAJ she co-founded CanadianJournalist.ca, later donated to the Canadian Journalism Foundation and merged with J-Source.ca, for which she served as the first Townhall editor. She has mentored several young journalists and spoken at, or served on panels, at various journalism events.
Kirk LaPointe is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Self-Counsel Press, the country's leading publisher of financial, legal, immigration, environment and information self-help books and ebooks. He is Executive Director of the Organization of News Ombudsmen and since 2004 has been an Adjunct Professor and Executive-in-Residence at the Graduate School of Journalism at University of British Columbia. He has been a media executive for a quarter-century and led such organizations as CTV News, Southam News and The Hamilton Spectator, been the Managing Editor of the Vancouver Sun, the founding Executive Editor of National Post, the Ottawa Bureau Chief and General News Editor of The Canadian Press, and the Ombudsman for CBC’s English Services.
Julian Sher is the Senior Producer of CBC's the fifth estate, Canada's premier investigative TV program.An award-winning investigative journalist in TV, print, radio and on the Web, he is a veteran TV documentary writer and director as well as an accomplished newsroom trainer and the author of six widely-acclaimed books. He was an investigative journalist for Canada's two leading newspapers, The Toronto Star and the The Globe and Mail.
His latest book is Somebody's Daughter: The Hidden Story of America's Prostituted Children and The Battle to Save Them. Publisher's Weekly called the book "a thorough, deeply affecting study … [that] strikes a rare balance between revealing trauma and hope." His writings on child abuse have appeared on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Maclean's magazine and the OpEd page of USA Today.
Julian wrote and directed a New York Times-CBC TV investigation called "Nuclear Jihad" which won the duPont-Columbia University Award, the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, in 2006. He has filmed, written and produced major documentaries across the globe. He covered scandals, wars and corporate intrigue in South Africa, Somalia, Holland, France, England, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and the United States and Canada. He is a three-time nominee for a Gemini (Canada's equivalent of the Emmys for TV), and won a Gemini for Best Documentary in 1997. He also won a Governor General's award for Meritorious Public Service for uncovering miscarriages of justice.
As a newsroom trainer, Julian has taught journalists at CNN, the BBC, and in newspapers and TV networks across Canada. Julian has been active in media and human rights issues. He is the former president of the Canadian Association of Journalists and is on the CAJ's Ethics Advisory Panel.
He is a graduate in Honours History from McGill University in Montreal.
Craig Silverman (@CraigSilverman) is the founder of Emergent.info, a real-time rumor tracker, and a leading expert on media errors, accuracy and verification. He is currently a fellow with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. Craig is the founder and editor of Regret the Error, a blog about media accuracy and the discipline of verification. It is now part of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, where Craig serves as adjunct faculty. He edited the Verification Handbook from the European Journalism Center, and previously served as director of content for Spundge and helped launch OpenFile, an online local news startup that delivered community-driven reporting in six Canadian cities. Craig is also the former managing editor of PBS MediaShift and has been a columnist for The Globe And Mail, Toronto Star, and Columbia Journalism Review. He is the author of two award-winning non-fiction books, Regret The Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech and Mafiaboy: A Portrait of the Hacker as a Young Man. His journalism has also been honored by the Mirror Awards, National Press Club, National Magazine Awards (Canada), Canadian Online Publishing Awards, and Crime Writers of Canada.
Lisa Taylor spent a decade with CBC Radio & Television in a wide range of journalistic roles. After attaining an LLB from Dalhousie Law School, Lisa returned to CBC, ultimately becoming a network justice and legal affairs specialist. She was co-creator and host of two nationally-broadcast series: Sweet Justice, on CBC Radio One, and The Docket on CBC Newsworld (now CBC News Network).Her work on The Docket garnered a 2004 Gemini nomination.
In addition to teaching at Ryerson, Lisa currently leads a two-day writing and storytelling workshops for CBC journalists. Over the past four years, Lisa and her training partner have taught more than 400 working journalists at CBC locations from Vancouver to St. John’s.
Throughout her career, Lisa has focused on the intersection of law and journalism. She advocates greater rule-flexibility and a more robust exercise of personal agency to ensure that sexual assault complainants have the freedom to speak publicly about their own lived experience.
Lisa has previously lectured at King’s College School of Journalism and Mount Saint Vincent University, both in Halifax. More recently, she returned to King’s College as an adjunct professor in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Graduate Studies. Her journalism has been recognized by the Atlantic Journalism Awards and the B’nai Brith Media Human Rights Awards. Lisa is also a former member of the national board of directors of LEAF (the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund).
Ellen van Wageningen is managing editor for The Windsor Star, where she has worked as a reporter and editor since 1990. In her previous position as metro editor, Van Wageningen oversaw a National Newspaper Award nominated series on the events that lead to the slaying at a Windsor hospital of a nurse by a doctor. She also spearheaded the initial training of staff when The Windsor Star website was launched. During her time as a reporter she covered business, justice, municipal affairs and health, and was one of three reporters at the Star who won a National Newspaper Award for a series on shift work.
Stephen JA Ward, Ph.D., was the founding chair of the CAJ ethics advisory committee, and led the work of creating both the association's first ethics code and of establishing this committee's terms of reference. He is Distinguished Lecturer of Ethics at the University of British Columbia, Courtesy Professor at the University of Oregon, and founding director of the Center for Journalism Ethics, University of Wisconsin-Madison. A former reporter, war correspondent, and newsroom manager for 14 years, he covered conflicts in Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Northern Ireland. Ward then became the British Columbia bureau chief for The Canadian Press news agency in Vancouver. His current research is on the future of media ethics in a global interactive world. In 2014, he served as interim director of the international Organization of News Ombudsmen.
His latest book is Global Media Ethics: Problems and Perspectives; previous books include The Invention of Journalism Ethics: The Path to Objectivity and Beyond, Ethics and the Media, and Global Journalism Ethics. He is co-editor of Media Ethics Beyond Borders: A Global Perspective. His new book, Radical Media Ethics, will appear in early 2015. Ward’s articles and reviews have appeared in such journals as Journalism Studies, Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies; Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics and the Journal of Mass Media Ethics.
Today, Ward blogs at Media Morals.org, which he directs, and is an ethics columnist for the PBS web site, Media Shift, for the web site of the Center for Journalism Ethics, for the Canadian portal www.j-source.ca, and for the Canadian magazine, Media.