News agency the Canadian Press didn’t break press guidelines for using anonymous sources in a story on dental care for senior citizens, Canada’s National News Media Council ruled.
The April 2019 article,” Free dental care for low-income seniors to be announced in budget,” reported that “senior government sources who were not authorized to speak publicly about the budget item” told the Canadian Press that the then-upcoming Ontario budget would include “free dental care for low-income seniors.”
One of the Canadian Press‘s readers complained that the anonymous sources “undermined the credibility of journalists and their work” and left news outlets “vulnerable to be manipulated by politicians and other government officials,” the council said.
The Canadian Press defended its article as in the public interest. It also noted it confirmed the story with multiple sources and that the Canadian Press provided some information about who the sources were. The National News Media Council agreed, finding the Canadian Press provided readers “useful and relevant context about the credibility and motivation of the sources” and that the story was in the public interest.
iMediaEthics has contacted the Canadian Press,but it declined to comment. The Canadian Press is based in Toronto.
The council decided that the Canadian Press wasn’t manipulated by the source because it was a “straightforward” report. “This report relied on a government source for a straightforward preview of a policy promised during the election and planned for announcement in a soon-to-be released budget,” the council said. “Council found no evidence to support the complainant’s view that the news organization was manipulated by government. Rather, the motivation of a government official providing a journalist with advance details of a promised program is abundantly clear.”