The Manitoba Press Council has begun the process of closing.
According to a Jan. 2 article in the Brandon Sun, “the publishers of the Winnipeg Free Press, the Brandon Sun, the Portage Daily Graphic and the Manitoba Community Newspapers Association” founded the Canadian province’s council.
We wrote to the Manitoba Press Council to learn more about the closure. The press council’s executive secretary-treasurer Clarise Klassen told iMediaEthics by e-mail that the council is currently “formally dissolving the organization” over the “next few weeks.”
Klassen added that the council, which was opened in 1984, “officially ceased hearing complaints on Dec. 31, 2011.” [The council’s website (www.mbpress.org) currently features a warning that “This site may harm your computer.” Klassen told iMediaEthics the council is “looking into” any problems with the site.]
According to Klassen, the council closed because its its members stopped funding it. “Without that funding we are unable to function; we also lose our mandate to adjudicate complaints against them,” she wrote. The council received “about 2-3 complaints” annually, according to Klassen.
The council was made up of Klassen, board chairman John Cochrane, and representatives from both “each member newspaper or newspaper organization” and a “community representative,” she wrote.
The Winnipeg Free Press noted that it funded $14,000 of the council’s “annual budget of about $17,000.” According to the Winnipeg Free Press’ report, its publisher Bob Cox explained the newspaper dropped out of the council because of “the council’s declining activity” and the lack of other newspaper members from the province.
iMediaEthics has written to the Portage Daily Graphic, the Brandon Sun and the Manitoba Community Newspapers Association to ask why they decided to leave the council and if they have any comment concerning the closure. We will update with any response.
We wrote in July 2011 when the Canadian newspaper chain Sun Media withdrew its membership in the Ontario Press Council. In May 2011, we interviewed John Hamer, the president of the last active news council in the U.S. In January 2011, the Minnesota News Council, the second-to-last council in the U.S., closed.