The Toronto Star and all Torstar publications have a new Journalistic Standards Guide, public editor Kathy English reported. Torstar includes the Hamilton Spectator, StarMetro, the St. Catharines Standard, the Niagara Falls Review, among other news outlets.
The guide hasn’t been updated since 2009, English told iMediaEthics. “In updating this guide, we aimed to make it reflective of current digital realities and the needs of Torstar daily and community newsrooms, while staying true to longstanding principles that have long guided our journalism — most importantly – accuracy, fairness, impartiality in news coverage and independence from those we cover,” English explained via e-mail. “All of those sections in the guide have been revised somewhat.”
Changes include calls for “greater transparency,” the various labels that Torstar uses to label news and opinion pieces, and the policy that Torstar doesn’t unpublish except for “‘rare’ circumstances (usually legal).” In addition, English noted:
“The Suicide policy has been updated to make clear that suicide is not always a taboo subject and provide guidance on how to report on this when we judge a death by suicide to be of public interest.”
The guide affects all staff and freelancers for all Torstar publications, English wrote in a public editor column. The guidelines note that TorStar publications belong to the National News Media Council, which reviews complaints against the media.”Most important, in this new era of misinformation and dwindling trust, when journalists must work harder than ever to earn the trust of our readers, I believe strongly in the accountability and transparency of having a well-thought-out guide to journalism standards, and of making it easily accessible to readers,” English explained. “To that end, a link to the guide is now embedded on every piece of content on thestar.com. Links to the guide are also published on all other Torstar news sites.”
The guidelines were updated by a group including English, Toronto Star editor Irene Gentle, StarMetro editor-in-chief Cathrin Bradbury, Torstar Regional Dailies editor-in-chief Paul Berton and Torstar Community Brands director of content Joanne Burghardt, according to English.
The guidelines are published here.