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Jesse Brown: In Defence of Independent and Impartial Journalism

When you open your morning newspaper or turn on the evening television news, do you expect to receive independent and impartial reporting on events from newspeople free of unacknowledged biases? This expectation was called into question over the past six weeks as it came to light that publicly-owned CBC allows both freelancers and full-time journalists to accept paid speaking engagements. And as the facts emerged, it became apparent that some of these speaking engagements were paid for by organizations being covered in the news.

Both Rex Murphy and Peter Mansbridge have accepted paid speaking engagements from Canada's oil industry. And neither Mansbridge nor Murphy disclosed this when moderating or participating in discussions of energy policy, the oil sands development or the oil industry.

This is important information that viewers should be aware of. But was it willingly disclosed by the CBC? Hardly. In fact, it only came to light thanks to the vigilance and persistence of a handful of bloggers and online news outlets.

Jesse Brown has been one of the most fearless pursuers of this story on both his Canadaland podcast and blog.

And Jesse will be joining us for a special Third Tuesday discussion of the important questions raised by these disclosures.

• Is it reasonable to believe that a journalist can be influenced or biased because he or she accepts payment from companies or organizations for services provided outside of the journalist's main occupation?

• How much transparency about outside financial payments to journalists is sufficient? How much is realistic and possible?

• In a freelance economy, should we expect the same degree of disclosure from freelance journalists who must earn their living from a variety of sources?

• Should news organizations enforce an outright ban on their journalists accepting payment from other sources or is disclosure of such payments sufficient?

• What is the responsibility of the news organization to define standards for their journalists and what is the responsibility of the journalist as an individual?

• Should a national broadcaster paid for by public funds be held to a higher standard of transparency than a private news organization?

• What can we do when media outlets are slow to cover an issue in which they are directly involved?

We will talk about these issues and more when Jesse Brown joins us at Third Tuesday. If you'd like to participate in the conversation, please register to attend.


6:30 p.m. Doors open, meet new and old friends

7:00 p.m. Presentation, followed by Q&A session

7:45 p.m. Community mix and mingle

Thank you to our sponsors

Third Tuesday is supported by great sponsors - Cision Canada and Rogers Communications - who believe in our community and help us to bring speakers not just to Toronto but to Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver as well. Without the sponsors we couldn't make Third Tuesday a truly Canadian affair. So, thank you to the sponsors of the Third Tuesday[masked] season: Cision Canada and Rogers Communications.

We want students to be able to attend

Third Tuesday is a great opportunity to hear about the latest developments in social media and to network with business and thought leaders. And we don't want students to miss out on this opportunity. So, if you are a student and would like to attend, don't let the admission fee stop you. Simply present your student ID card at the time you sign into Third Tuesday and we'll refund your admission fee, courtesy of Thornley Fallis.

Join or login to comment.

  • Alfred A.

    Jesse said something about news organizations not tracking their analytics in any meaningful manner. When I mentioned this to my boss (at Star Media Group), he took me up to the newsroom to show me two large screen displays with ChartBeat showing live. He assures me, as well, that journalists are also tracking their pageviews, and some even participate in the comments section.

    Furthermore, everyone is currently getting trained in social media.

    March 25, 2014

  • Andrew W.

    Don't know if anyone caught this article, but an interesting read touching on some of the good points from last night:
    The Story behind the Rob Ford Story

    March 25, 2014

  • Eden S.

    Jesse is doing something very important in the Canadian media landscape as an independent journalist who isn't afraid to handle tough issues. I hope he inspires younger Canadians to listen, and other journalists to do the same.

    1 · March 25, 2014

  • Jim C.

    Interesting perspective on the challenges of achieving independent and impartial journalism in the Canadian media milieu.

    March 25, 2014

  • Norma Meneguzzi S.

    Great speaker. Thought-provoking subject matter.

    March 25, 2014

  • Heather M.

    Great speaker and very intriguing content as well as opinions about why we have the type of media we have in Canada.

    March 24, 2014

  • susi

    you know, that's really interesting ( I hadn't heard about this), because I have been watching the different Canadian news channels plus CNN, and CBC consistently produces non-informative and non-questioning 'information"; especially Peter Mansbridge in what are supposed to be hard-hitting interviews. I watch and I think "who are they (CBC) trying not to offend?"... CBC used to be a "realist' in terms of the news and now it is the opposite. they seem to be the most opaque of the media players, e.g. in spite of huge pressure, the CBC STILL refuses to disclose salaries, e.g. Peter Mansbridge and George Strombo.

    March 20, 2014

  • Brian M.

    If we can't trust the 4th estate to be fair & impartial, exactly who can we trust? Looking forward to the event.

    March 17, 2014

  • Laura B.

    So sorry that I am missing this. I know it will be a great evening.

    March 17, 2014

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