It's taken two years of planning, but this month the National Newsmedia Council is up and running.
It is replacing a number of provincial press councils across the country, including the Ontario Press Council. Some of the provincial groups were struggling and losing member organizations. But the National Newsmedia Council has much broader support from many large newspaper organizations, including The Globe and Mail, Postmedia, the Sun properties, The Toronto Star, Metroland and a number of other organizations.
This should matter to you because it offers you another option for having your complaints against the media redressed. All complaints about The Globe should come to me first as Public Editor, but if you remain unhappy, you have the option, for free, of appealing to the National Newsmedia Council with a formal complaint. Information on filing a complaint, journalistic standards and previous council decisions are available on the website.
It makes more sense for The Globe to deal with a national group (The Globe was also a member of the Ontario Press Council), because complaints come from readers across the country. The press council hearing panels include a majority of public members and will also include a journalist from another group.
The new council is the brainchild of outgoing Ontario Press Council executive director Don McCurdy, who pitched the idea as soon as he took that job.
"My years working in newspapers provided some understanding of the transition media was undergoing and the reach of digital media was not limited by borders or jurisdictions," Mr. McCurdy says. "It seemed logical to provide members of the public with a single independent organization to deal with unresolved issues involving editorial content. Eventually, I hope the Newsmedia Council will be supported by news organizations on all platforms."
He adds: "By acting as a conduit, the new council will be a benefit to the public and media members alike."
The new president and CEO of the National Newsmedia Council is John Fraser, former Globe and Mail journalist, China bureau chief, national editor and more, who also edited Saturday Night magazine and was the master of Massey College. Mr. Fraser says he is thrilled to be taking on the new role with the national council.
Mr. Fraser started working as a copy boy at age 16 for the Toronto Telegram, so he has clearly lived the industry.
He sees his role both as teaching and maintaining the professional standards and ethics.
"The new National Newsmedia Council is in the process of trying to expand, and perhaps, redefine what the old press councils used to do," Mr. Fraser says. "For starters, we want to represent the full spectrum of news gathering: newspapers, information magazines and online publications.
"In standing up for best journalistic practices and established ethics, we aim to serve both the public and the industry. Journalism as a profession is going through an extraordinarily challenging transition and the NNC intends to be a full partner in that journey."
A disclosure here. I was part of the transition team that advised chair Frances Lankin, a former Ontario cabinet minister and former CEO of the United Way Toronto, on how to set up the national council.
A reminder: If you have any complaints, concerns or issues about The Globe's journalism, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org