EDITORIAL POLICIES

Last updated November 24, 2018

These policies are meant to guide the Canadian Centre for Strategic Studies as we deliver analyses and information in a rapidly changing media environment. These guidelines will continually be modified and updated based on feedback from our analysts, from our readers, and from our perceptions of our changing needs. Because the circumstances under which information is obtained and reported vary widely from one case to the next, these guidelines should not be understood as establishing hard and fast rules or as covering every situation that might arise.

Conflict of Interest

This organization is pledged to avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflict of interest wherever and whenever possible. We have adopted stringent policies on these issues, conscious that they may be more restrictive than is customary in the world of business.

We do not accept payment – either honoraria or expenses – from governments, government-funded organizations, groups of government officials, political groups or organizations that take positions on controversial issues. An analyst also cannot accept payment from any person, company or organization that he or she covers. And we should avoid accepting money from individuals, companies, trade associations or organizations that lobby government or otherwise try to influence issues we cover. Broadcast organizations, educational institutions, social organizations and many professional organizations usually fall outside this provision unless the analyst is involved in coverage of them.

It is important that no freelance assignments and no honoraria be accepted that might in any way be interpreted as disguised gratuities. We make every reasonable effort to be free of obligation to sources and to special interests. We must be wary of entanglement with those whose positions render them likely to be subjects of journalistic interest and examination. Our private behavior as well as our professional behavior must not bring discredit to our profession.

We avoid active involvement in any partisan causes — politics, community affairs, social action, demonstrations — that could compromise or seem to compromise our ability to report and edit fairly. Relatives cannot fairly be made subject to our rules, but it should be recognized that their employment or their involvement in causes can at least appear to compromise our integrity. The business and professional ties of traditional family members or other members of your household must be disclosed to department heads.

Fairness

Analysts are committed to fairness. While arguments about objectivity are endless, the concept of fairness is something that editors and reporters can easily understand and pursue. Fairness results from a few simple practices:

No story is fair if it omits facts of major importance or significance. Fairness includes completeness.

No story is fair if it includes essentially irrelevant information at the expense of significant facts. Fairness includes relevance.

No story is fair if it consciously or unconsciously misleads or even deceives the reader. Fairness includes honesty–leveling with the reader.

No story is fair if it covers individuals or organizations that have not been given the opportunity to address assertions or claims about them made by others. Fairness includes diligently seeking comment and taking that comment genuinely into account.

Taste

The Canadian Centre for Strategic Studies respects taste and decency, understanding that society’s concepts of taste and decency are constantly changing. A word offensive to the last generation can be part of the next generation’s common vocabulary. We shall avoid profanities and obscenities unless their use is so essential to a story of significance that its meaning is lost without them. In no case shall obscenities be used without the approval of the executive or managing editors.

If editors decide that content containing potentially offensive material has a legitimate news value, editors should use visual and/or text warnings about such material. For example, we may link to a Web page that contains material that does not meet standards for CCSS original content, but we let users know what they might see before they click the link by including a warning, such as “Warning: Some images on this site contain graphic images of war.” Finally, we do not link to sites that aid or abet illegal activity.

Opinion

The separation of analysis columns from the opinion pages is solemn and complete. This separation is intended to serve the reader, who is entitled to the facts in the news columns and to opinions on the editorial and “op-ed” pages. But nothing in this separation of functions is intended to eliminate from the news columns honest, in-depth reporting, or analysis or commentary when plainly labeled.  The labels are designed as follows:

Analysis: Interpretation of the news based on evidence, including data, as well as anticipating how events might unfold based on past events

Perspective: Discussion of news topics with a point of view, including narratives by individuals regarding their own experiences.

Opinion: A column or blog in the Opinions section.

Review: A professional critic’s assessment of a service, product, performance, or artistic or literary work.

Social Media

When using networks such as Facebook, Twitter etc., for reporting or for our personal lives, we must protect our professional integrity and remember: CCSS analysts are always CCSS analysts.

Social-media accounts maintained by CCSS analysts reflect upon the reputation and credibility of the organization. Even as we express ourselves in more personal and informal ways to forge better connections with our readers, we must be ever mindful of preserving the reputation of the CCSS for excellence, fairness and independence. Every comment or link we share should be considered public information, regardless of privacy settings.

Analysts must refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything – including photographs or video – that could objectively be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism.

The National and Community Interest

The Canadian Centre for Strategic Studies is vitally concerned with the national interest and with the community interest. We believe these interests are best served by the widest possible dissemination of information. The claim of national interest by a federal official does not automatically equate with the national interest. The claim of community interest by a local official does not automatically equate with the community interest.

An Analysts' Role

Although it has become increasingly difficult in an Internet age, analysts should make every effort to remain in the audience, to be the stagehand rather than the star, to report the news, not to make the news. In gathering news, analysts will not misrepresent their identity or their occupation. They will not portray themselves as police officers, physicians or anything other than analysts.

Verification and fact-checking standards

CCSS analysts have primary responsibility for reporting, writing, and fact-checking their articles. Articles are subject to review by one or more editors. The CCSS has a multi-level structure for the review and editing of stories that may include fact-checking.  The number of editors who review a story prior to publication and the extent of their involvement varies depending on a range of factors, including complexity, sensitivity, and the pressure of time.

Corrections policy

The Canadian Centre for Strategic Studies strives for a nimble, accurate and complete analysis. We endeavor to be promptly responsive in correcting errors in material published on digital platforms and in print. When we run a correction, clarification or editor’s note, our goal is to tell readers, as clearly and quickly as possible, what was wrong and what is correct. Anyone should be able to understand how and why a mistake has been corrected.

Updating a digital report

Our individual pieces of journalism evolve as we sharpen and improve them. It is unnecessary to put notes on stories stating that a story has been updated unless there is a particular reason to note the addition of new information or other change; the time stamp signals to readers that they are reading a developing story. It is necessary to use a correction, clarification or editor’s note to inform readers whenever we correct a significant mistake.

Corrections

If we are substantively correcting an article, photo caption, headline, graphic, video or other material, we should promptly publish a correction explaining the change.

Clarification

When our analyses are factually correct but the language we used to explain those facts is not as clear or detailed as it should be, the language should be rewritten and a clarification added to the story. A clarification can also be used to note that we initially failed to seek a comment or response that has since been added to the story or that new reporting has shifted our account of an event.

Editor’s Notes
A correction that calls into question the entire substance of an article, raises a significant ethical matter or addresses whether an article did not meet our standards, may require an Editor’s Note and be followed by an explanation of what is at issue. A senior editor must approve the addition of an Editor’s Note to a story.

Other Corrections Policies

  1. When an error is found by a reader and posted to the comment stream, the team should indicate in comments that it has been corrected.
  2. If we have sent out incorrect information in an alert, we should send out an alert informing people that the news reported in the earlier alert was wrong and give readers the accurate information.
  3. When we publish erroneous information on social networks, we should correct it on that platform.
  4. We do not attribute blame to individual analysts or editors (e.g. “because of a reporting error” or “because of an editing error”). But we may note that an error was the result of a production problem or because incorrect information came to us from a trusted source (individuals quoted, etc.)
Take-down (unpublish) requests

As a matter of editorial policy, we do not grant take-down requests, which should be vetted at the highest level. If the subject claims that the story was inaccurate, we should be prepared to investigate and, if necessary, publish a correction. And there may be situations in which fairness demands an update or follow-up coverage — for example, if we reported that a person was charged with a crime but did not report that the charges were later dismissed for lack of evidence. In short, our response will be to consider whether further editorial action is warranted, but not to remove the article as though it had never been published. When we publish publicly available personal data, we only will review takedown requests if the person involved is under threat of physical harm because of the existence of the material.