In a world where irritated readers can provide instant social media feedback on news stories, the role of Canada’s press councils has become hazy.
The watchdog bodies, which had no powers to impose sanctions, were originally created in the 1970s and ’80s so people with grievances about the media could air their concerns. Newspapers then published press council decisions in an effort to increase accountability to the public.
But after a tough few years for press councils, Ryerson University journalism researchers Lisa Taylor and Ivor Shapiro are looking into what role the organizations play today — and they want to know what the public thinks.
An online survey asks the public to weigh in on how these organizations foster accountability across the country. The study will look at options to ensure public complaints get heard.
Taylor hopes to hear from as many Canadians as possible and encourages all newspaper readers to fill out the survey.
Newspapers Canada requested the study after the Sun newspaper chain pulled its 27 newspapers out of Ontario’s press council in the summer of 2011.