We, the members of Canadian University Press, recognize that student journalists can only be
effective in their aims if their publications are credible and respected.
We also acknowledge that rigid regulations and laws cannot always anticipate the exigencies of a
situation. There may be times when the public good overrides other considerations.
In general, however, we affirm the following guidelines as a minimal level of responsibility and
ethical behaviour that every student journalist and publication should strive for:
A. Bias and Honesty
i. Journalists’ perspectives are determined by their positions within society, and will be
necessarily biased. They must therefore recognize the political implications of their
work, and attempt to treat their subjects fairly despite their biases.
ii. Journalists will make every possible effort to avoid reporting on external organizations
in which they are significantly involved. To further this goal, they, should strive to
disclose all potential and actual conflicts of interest to other members of the staff.
However, in the event that the journalist has no option but to report on such an
organization, they will prominently disclose the conflict to readers within or alongside
the printed article.
iii. However, membership in a disadvantaged ethnic, racial, gender, sexual, class or
otherwise identifiable social group shall never be construed as a conflict of interest,
even when reporting on issues directly affecting the group in question.
iv. Bias or prejudice against members of a marginalized group should have no place in the
editorial policy of any publication. An ethical publication will seek instead to publish
material which helps disperse such prejudices in its readership.
v. Publishing material intended to promote hatred or violence against any group or person
is unethical, unless for the purpose of reporting on an incident of relevance to the
person or community. In the latter case, journalists should be cautious about whether
they are unintentionally giving a forum to hateful material without adequately countering
vi. Papers will pay the costs incurred in the gathering and publishing of news, and shall not
pay individuals or organizations for exclusive rights to any news story. Staff will not
accept free gifts of any sort and will only accept free material or privileges for coverage
on the understanding that the paper is under no obligation to the individuals or groups
B. Fairness and Accuracy
i. Journalists should realize fully their personal responsibility for all material submitted for
publication. They should not falsify information or documents, nor distort or
misrepresent facts, whether purposefully or through neglect.
ii. So-called news communications or press releases from private and government
sources should never be published without substantiation of their claims nor without
seeking the opinions of people who may be affected by the issue or events in question.
iii. In addition, journalists should not plagiarize material from other writers or other media
nor should they take facts from other sources without corroboration.
iv. Journalists should strive to seek out all points of view that they deem relevant to the
issue at hand. They should especially seek out those whose views have been
neglected by the mainstream press, or in previous coverage of the issue, and those
who may stand to suffer by the effects of that event or decision under consideration.
v. However, they should also give due consideration to opposing viewpoints, allowing
such interests to represent themselves accurately and to best advantage in each news
vi. Journalists should not report unsubstantiated opinions as fact, condemn persons or
groups by innuendo or hearsay, or distort meaning by over or underemphasis, or by
placing facts or quotations out of context, or by using headlines not warranted by the
vii. Journalists should have the freedom and the responsibility to protect the anonymity of
sources to whom they have given such assurances.
viii. Journalists should not use unattributed quotations. All information should be confirmed and
corroborated from more than one source.
ix. Journalists should normally identify themselves and their journalistic affiliations before
conducting an interview.
x. The publication should rectify in print, at the first available opportunity, all culpable mistakes, recognizing its responsibility for everything published. These corrections should be in a position of prominence comparable to the one in which the original error appeared.
xi. Photos should not be altered in such a way that events are falsified, unless the
falsehood of the photo is clear from its context. Stereotypes should not be perpetuated
through photography and photographers should be sensitive to the distortions and
abuses their images may promote.
xii. Graphic material might not be strictly accurate, but artistic licence should not be used
as an excuse to misrepresent an issue or make false information credible. Similar
cautions should be observed in publishing satirical or fictional material.
xiii. Publications should maintain opinion and letters sections, and strive to publish as many
such pieces as space allows while reserving the right to refuse to publish pieces that
compromise the editorial integrity of the publication. An open dialogue with readers
should be encouraged.
C. Privacy and Legal Responsibility
i. Journalists should consistently respect the dignity, privacy, freedoms, and wellbeing of
the people encountered while gathering and presenting information.
ii. Any conflicts arising between an individual’s privacy and the community’s need to know
about the conduct of vital matters should be judged by the staff of the publication.
iii. Journalists should bear in mind the permanent effect that damaging information may
have on an individual’s life. However, they should also take into account the systemic
and pervasive inequalities that privacy rights afford to some people over others.
iv. Journalists should be cautious about the publication of information that may enable or
assist individuals, police, government agencies or others to harass or persecute an
individual or group, even if such information is not damaging in and of itself. Such cases
should be judged in much the same manner as privacy issues.
v. Journalists should be wary of sensationalizing violations of people’s dignity or privacy.
Publications will refrain from publishing, without consent, the names of the victims of
crimes which carry a social stigma.
vi. Publications should not publish information damaging to an individual’s or group’s
interests or reputation without giving them a chance to reply.
vii. Journalists should also be familiar with the laws of libel and contempt of court which
exist in Canada.