File a Complaint: Procedure

The National NewsMedia Council provides an efficient and effective way for the public to deal with issues of concern without launching legal proceedings, which can become lengthy and costly.

The Council considers:

  1. Unsatisfied complaints from the public about the ethics and journalistic practices of a member media organization in gathering and publishing news and opinion; and
  2. Complaints from members of the media about the conduct of individuals and organizations that restricts source protection, freedom of information, or access to information that the media requires to do its job.

Any member of the public may initiate a complaint.

In reaching its decisions, the Council considers appropriate journalistic practices, including fairness, accuracy, and the news organization’s own guidelines and codes of conduct, as well as issues of ethical concerns, sources utilized, and decisions by the Courts.

News organizations must publish decisions affecting their newsrooms.

No member of the Council may participate in a hearing about a complaint if a conflict of interest exists.

When reviewing complaints, the NewsMedia Council is committed to upholding national principles and standards while taking into consideration news organizations’ need to account for and respond to community sensibilities and standards. Each member news organization has established guidelines and internal journalistic standards that represent a significant public statement to readers, and these values are expected to be upheld.

If an organization does not have a stated code of conduct, the Council will consider the generally accepted journalistic and ethical standards, and past decisions of press councils as appropriate. The Council may also consider The Canadian Press Stylebook or the Ethics Guideline established by the Canadian Association of Journalists.