Contact the news organization

Your first step should be to contact the editor or newsroom to discuss your concern. There may be an explanation, or your inquiry may prompt a needed correction. If you’ve already done this, it may still help to consider the issues below before you contact us.

It may help your discussion if you think about these questions:

Accuracy – Do you think a news story contains a factual error; that you were not correctly identified; or were misquoted? Does the caption to a photo accurately describe the scene, people or location? Is the headline of a story an accurate reflection of what the story is about?

Bias – Does the article acknowledge the ‘other side’ of a case? In the case of negative comment about a person, does it provide opportunity for response? Depending on the nature of the article, journalists are not required to conduct deep scientific research on a subject. Standard practice gives journalists the prerogative to choose their sources, and to report arguments proportionate to the relevant evidence so as to avoid false balance. (See Opinion for complaints about columns, editorials, and op-eds.)

Opinion – Do you object to an editorial or opinion column? Opinion and editorial writers are allowed to use strong language and express unpopular views. Is your complaint about an opinion that includes a factual error or ‘crosses the line’ in language? Is it about your letter to the editor? Newspapers have the right to edit your letter for length, clarity, legal or other reasons, or may choose not to publish it at all. An edit is not allowed to change the meaning of your letter.

Sensitive Issues – Is your complaint about reporting on sensitive issues such as courts, sexual assault or minors? The courts have rules that balance the interests of a public process, a fair trial, and protection of victims. Does the story contain racism, sexism, or bias against a social, religious or political group? Journalists take care to avoid publishing material likely to encourage discrimination. Do you feel the story violated privacy? Publicity can be embarrassing, but journalists must weigh individual privacy concerns with the duties of a free press. Respect for personal privacy should not unduly inhibit reporting on matters in the public interest.

Attribution – Is your complaint that you didn’t get credit for a photo, a quote, an idea or research quoted in the story? Did the story use your photograph or material from social media without your consent? Are you concerned about the use of anonymous sources? Journalists give credit for the work of others, name sources in all but exceptional cases, and can report on people and information in the public realm. At the same time, they adhere to copyright law and respect privacy where necessary.

When filing your complaint, please make sure the online form includes:

– Your name and contact information. We do not accept anonymous complaints!

– The headline, a PDF or link to the specific article for review, along with the date it was published

– Statement and examples from the article of why you think the article contains a specific breach of journalistic standards (see above for the types of journalistic standards we consider)

– Brief explanation of your attempt to resolve the matter with the news media organization before contacting us.

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