Statement of Principles, adopted by the Canadian Daily Newspaper Association in 1977, revised 1995.
This statement of principles expresses the commitment of Canada’s daily newspapers to operate in the public interest. A newspaper is a vital source of information and a private business enterprise with responsibility to the community it serves.
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press is an exercise of every Canadian’s right to freedom of expression guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is the right to gather and disseminate information, to discuss, to advocate, to dissent. A free press is essential to our democratic society. It enables readers to use their Charter right to receive information and make informed judgements on the issues and ideas of the time.
The newspaper’s primary obligation is fidelity to the public good. It should pay the costs of gathering the news. Conflicts of interest, real or apparent, should be declared. The newspaper should guard its independence from government, commercial and other interests seeking to subvert content for their own purposes.
Accuracy and fairness
The newspaper keeps faith with readers by presenting information that is accurate, fair, comprehensive, interesting and timely. It should acknowledge its mistakes promptly and conspicuously. Sound practice clearly distinguishes among news reports, expressions of opinion, and materials produced for and by advertisers. When images have been altered or simulated, readers should be told.
The newspaper has responsibilities to its readers, its shareholders, its employees and its advertisers. But the operation of a newspaper is a public trust and its overriding responsibility is to the society it serves. The newspaper plays many roles: a watchdog against evil and wrongdoing, an advocate for good works and noble deeds, and an opinion leader for its community. The newspaper should strive to paint a representative picture of its diverse communities, to encourage the expression of disparate views and to be accessible and accountable to the readers it serves, whether rich or poor, weak or powerful, minority or majority. When published material attacks an individual or group, those affected should be given an opportunity to reply.
The newspaper should strive to treat the people it covers with courtesy and fairness. It should respect the rights of others, particularly every person’s right to a fair trial. The inevitable conflict between privacy and the public good should be judged in the light of common sense and with decency.