MPs question how far journalists should go to get their stories

    OTTAWA, Dec. 6 /CNW Telbec/ - Members of Parliament and the journalists
who report on them agree on the importance of accuracy, balance and
impartiality in reporting, but are poles apart on just how far journalists
should go to get their stories. Those are just some of the findings in an
insightful new study of fairness in the media by the Canadian Media Research
    The Fairness in News Study reveals that while MPs and reporters agree on
many elements of fairness in journalism, they disagree when it comes to the
rules of engagement between journalists and sources. In particular, there is
disagreement over the limits of privacy of public figures, using hidden
cameras and tape recorders, reporting off-the-record conversations and quoting
unnamed sources.
    "Clearly, politicians and journalists see the news quite differently,"
says Dr. Fred Fletcher of York University, Past Chair of Canadian Media
Research Consortium and co-author of the Fairness in News Study. "Although
more than two-thirds of MPs believe that Canadian news media live up to their
role in the democratic process, as many as 84% do not believe that most
stories present the news in a fair way. By contrast, the overwhelming majority
of Press Gallery members in Ottawa consider the majority of their stories to
be fair."

    Other significant findings include:

    - MPs are much more likely than journalists to regard media criticism as
    - Only half of the journalists surveyed and fewer than one in four MPs
      were aware of the existence of journalistic codes; fewer than 20% of
      journalist reported referring to such a code
    - In their assessment of journalistic practices, MPs tended to be more in
      tune with public opinion than journalists
    - MPs and journalists agree that knowledge of a subject is an important
      basis for fair journalism and most journalists agree they are not as
      knowledgeable as they should be
    - Broad dissatisfaction with the Ottawa-centric nature of the news.
      Nearly half of the journalists and just under two-thirds of the MPs
      reported dissatisfaction with the variety of regional viewpoints in the

    About the Study

    The Fairness in News Study arose from concerns about defining fairness
and journalistic accountability expressed in recent court cases and in various
journalistic forums. It is based on the findings of a Pollara research survey
commissioned earlier this year by the CMRC and analyzes the perceptions of
fairness in the news held by 61 Members of Parliament and 64 journalists in
the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery. Detailed findings and methodology
are available on the CMRC website, at <a href=""></a>.
    The Study was co-authored by Fred Fletcher, professor emeritus of
communication studies and political science at York University, and André
Turcotte, professor of communication at Carleton University and Research
Director of the Fairness in the News Project.

    About the Consortium

    The Canadian Media Research Consortium is a non-profit partnership of the
University of British Columbia School of Journalism, the York Ryerson Graduate
Program in Communication and Culture and the Centre d'études sur les médias at
Université Laval. The Consortium is committed to conducting applied research
on issues of importance to Canadians with particular emphasis on important
economic, social and cultural issues related to technological change in the
media and sharing those findings with scholars, media and the public.

For further information:

For further information: Geneviève Joly, Delta Media, (613) 233-9191

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