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public editor

I’ve heard from a few readers over the past weeks with questions about the reference in stories and columns noting that The Globe and Mail is “a media partner of WE Charity.”

From the start of our coverage of that story, our editors and reporters decided to be very transparent about mentioning this noneditorial marketing relationship in news and opinion pieces about WE.

It was the right thing to do, but not everyone fully understood, and the explanation became more complete in a more recent story, which noted that “The Globe and Mail is a media partner of WE Charity, which has involved giving the group advertising space to promote WE Days and other events. The agreement expires on Aug. 31 and will not be renewed.”

Still, some questions remain, and I am late getting back on these as I have been off. One reader wrote to me still wondering what it involved – in terms of resources, for instance – and why it is running to Aug. 31. He also wondered what other charitable partnerships The Globe has and whether they have affected reporting.

I can answer based on what I see in the reporting, but first, The Globe’s VP of marketing, Sean Humphrey, explained that the WE partnership meant offering promotional ad space in our print and digital editions to help them promote their WE Day events. “There was no financial exchange as part of the media partnership agreement. "

He also said several journalists had appeared at WE student events or as experts on webinars on issues such as mental health. They were not paid.

The agreement wraps up at the end of this month because that is the last day of The Globe’s fiscal year and agreements are set to this term.

Mr. Humphrey said The Globe similarly supports a number of other charities and events, including the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic teams, Special Olympics Canada, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and the Art Gallery of Ontario, to name a few.

“None of our commercial partnerships involve any commitment around editorial coverage,” he noted.

I think it is clear from the coverage that the reporting has been focused on finding out more about WE and its relationships with the government and has not been and would not be affected by the marketing relationship.

To me, the coverage has been fair and has concentrated on what is important to know. Recently it has included both an overview of WE’s fall from grace and an investigation showing that WE spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Republican consultants in the U.S.

In hindsight, I applaud the decision to include the reference to the media partnership, although I think a bit more detail would have explained it better. Until month’s end, when the relationship ends, I think readers should know that as a media partner The Globe has given WE Charity advertising space to promote WE Days and other events.

And I expect the news coverage will continue to be fair and focused.

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