Public Affairs Updates

Despite the small turnout for the second public policy and human resources breakout, Don McCurdy of the Ontario Press Council and Newspapers Canada CEO John Hinds emphasized the significance of a new national press council in the country.

All of the existing provincial press councils in Canada, with the exception of Quebec, become the National Newsmedia Council this fall.

The council will launch softly in September with a more firm launch in October as more information about what the National Newsmedia Council is, why it exists and how to file a complaint is released.  The idea to combine the existing press councils came up four years ago as membership dwindled and few complaints were being made or addressed. McCurdy and Hinds said the provincial model was outdated and as the councils lost membership, they lost a sense of what they were doing.

Now, after four years of conversations and planning, newspapers and media organizations are joining the new council because of revitalized objectives. McCurdy said the council will establish consistency in decision making and make sure that things are done fairly at a fair price.

Hinds said one key goal of the National Newsmedia Council is ensuring local voice is heard where the complaint is made. The council recognizes there are unique and different regions in the country so panels chosen to ask the complainant and defending newspaper questions will be selected in the region the complaint originated. McCurdy said public hearings will be rare and that most hearings will be done by conference call.

The council will implement a cascading process for decision making, basing decisions on a series of different standards, practices and principles.

McCurdy said he expects the council to deliver positive results just a short time after implementing the system.