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Office pranks make Poynter headlines

By Andrew Beaujon
One of the Christmasy animals is visiting the Toronto Star's newsroom. It seems to be making a good argument for keeping animals outdoors: The animal "peed on the carpet and now it smells," photo editor Canice Leung tweeted, adding soon after that the reindeer had disgraced another office: Click here to read more.

How to file an ATIP/FOI request in Canada

National Resources for Canadian Journalists

Canadian Association of Journalists

Mandate: The CAJ exists to promote excellence in journalism. It is the national voice of Canadian journalists and upholds the public's right to know. The CAJ encourages and promotes investigative journalism.
* Discounted rates for professional-development events, such as the CAJ conference
* Discounted entry fees for annual awards program
* Media magazine online (that any journalist can view)
* Speaks out, through releases and other advocacy work, on behalf of issues and events that affect a journalist's ability to do journalism
* Joins media coalition interventions for Supreme Court of Canada cases that involve journalism, free speech or public-interest issues
* Provides resources to all journalists - such as the CAJ policy paper on editorial independence, and an array of position papers/best practices produced by the CAJ ethics advisory committee and the ethics guidelines and principles for ethical journalism

Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom

Mandate: The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom succeeded Ottawa's National Press Club in its role of monitoring press freedom issues nationally and globally. The committee was incorporated as a non-profit body in 2008 with the mission of continuing to celebrate World Press Freedom Day and to advocate on behalf of freedom-of-expression.
* Prize for a courageous journalist $2,000
* Cartoon contest $1,000, $750, $500

Canadian Freelance Union

Mandate: The CFU provides targeted services to members to make their professional lives easier, focusing on the business side of freelancing (as opposed to the craft).
* A contract analysis and editing service - CFU will analyze, interpret and suggest amendments where appropriate
* A dispute settlement process - When a dispute arises (usually around non-payment)members can turn to the CFU for guidance, support and direct intervention on their behalf. CFU can call on legal advice when needed to deal with disputes
* A Red Flag service to warn members about unscrupulous engagers
* Access to full benefits packages at rates far lower than would normally be possible
* CFU National Press Card and the International Federation of Journalists Press Card (to qualified journalists)
* Use of the CFU union bug, which lets people know the work is “union made”
* Access to the new Creative Arts Savings & Credit Union (, a creator-focused Credit Union (Ontario members only - at least for now)
* CFU is also engaged at the national and provincial levels, advocating on issues around copyright, contracts and collective bargaining for self-employed workers

Canadian Journalism Foundation

Mandate: The Canadian Journalism Foundation works to preserve, provoke and enhance excellence in journalism. The CJF has been dedicated to acting as a catalyst for open and honest dialogue – helping to improve relationships between and understanding of the media and the private and public organizations that are often the focus of media and public attention.
* Recognizes outstanding achievement through one of the industry’s most prestigious annual awards programs
* Explores the most pressing issues facing the country at monthly CJF Forums – public events where journalists, business people, politicians, government officials and academics gather to discuss the role of the media in Canadian society
* CJF works to ensure journalism is at its best through (English) and (French) to provide them with the latest journalism news, opinions, tools, advice and connections
* CJF partners with the Rotman School of Management to make the Media Management Executive Education Program at the University of Toronto, Canada's only management certificate program for journalists

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

Mandate: Works to defend and protect the right to free expression in Canada and around the world. CJFE is a non-governmental organization with an active board of directors that draws from the media, legal and business communities.
* Writes protest letters to express concern for issues of press freedom violations and to urge a specific course of action to advance the protection of the right to freedom of expression and access to information.
* Letters can also be written to commend progress made on specific issues, and to encourage a continuation of these policies and actions.
* CJFE intervenes in legal cases that will lead to the creation of better laws to protect freedom of expression across the country. These include cases of access to information, defamation and libel, hate speech, police impersonating journalists, and protection of sources.
* Manages the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), a global network that monitors, promotes and defends freedom of expression, publishing daily alerts from around the world, while also collaborating on strategies to address specific freedom of expression issues
* Provides humanitarian assistance to journalists who have been attacked or threatened because of their work. CJFE also co-ordinate an email group of 18 international organizations that provide distress assistance to writers and journalists, to share information and speed up response time. Grants are provided to help journalists and their families acquire medical attention, travel to safety, and receive legal assistance. To date, CJFE has provided more than $200,000 in funding.
*Scotiabank/CJFE Fellowship at Massey College enhances inter-American understanding and promotes dialogue through exploration of issues in journalism and free expression in the Americas.
* Annual CJFE Gala: An Evening to Honour Courageous Reporting
* Annual Review of Free Expression in Canada, examining the status of critical free expression issues in Canada

Canadian Media Gild

Mandate: Advance the interests of members through collective bargaining and to promote the best working environments possible. The CMG believes that Canadians will have access to higher-quality information and entertainment if the people creating it have stable and fair employment conditions.
*, a meeting place/idea place for freelancers
* National advocacy committee, which makes submissions to the CRTC or Parliament on issues that affect members
* Legal advice from CMG staff representatives
* Legal representation on collective freelance issues
* Training on topics such as dispute resolution
* CMG enforces employee rights with employers
* CMG’s Reports and Publications (including information on CRTC submissions)
* Scholarships and lotteries, including:
* CWA/SCA Canada Memorial Scholarships, offering $1,000 for post-secondary education or training
* Recent lottery to send a member to Sydney, Australia, for a conference of public television producers and programmers

National Press Club

Mandate: To provide a convenient place for members to meet, to support press freedom, build excellence in journalism through awards and scholarships, and work jointly on activities with other journalism organizations, the Ethnic Press and The Ottawa Diplomatic Corps.

To contribute information to this list, email Micah at contact[at]

Editorial independence

I'm calling for stories from the battlefield. Have you seen advertising dollars influence editorial content at a Canadian newspaper or magazine? Or on a related note, have you seen ownership ignore conflict of interest, interfering with editorial independence for the sake of profit making? Please send me your stories.

In 2011, I quit my job at the Kelowna Daily Courier. The advertising department had too much power in the newsroom, demanding coverage for their clients, so that the newspaper resembled a flyer more than a source of news (click here).

I'm helping to plan the April 2012 Canadian Association of Journalism conference in Toronto, and am putting together a panel on this topic. It's important we understand the prevalence of this issue (if it is in fact prevalent), and what we can do to turn the trend around. I know I'm likely not the only journalist who has seen advertising dollars influence editorial independence, and I'd like to include some of your stories at the panel.

I will protect the identity of those who submit (unless they give me permission to do otherwise), but please include your name and the publication for the sake of authenticity. Email me at contact[at]

Click here if you'd like to learn more about the Canadian Association of Journalism conference.

Thanks. Micah