RTDNA Canada

RTDNA Canada

July 21, 2015 10:03 ET

RTDNA Canada Opposes New Policy by RCMP

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - July 21, 2015) - RTDNA Canada opposes a new policy by the RCMP not to release names of homicide victims, or the names of accident victims.

RTDNA Canada President Ian Koenigsfest says, "We believe that the release of names of major crime and fatal accident victims is in the public interest, and should not be unreasonably withheld."

Journalists have frequently relied on the RCMP's release and verification of names. In the absence of such credible sources, erroneous information often shared in social media and neighbourhood gossip could remain unchecked in public discourse.

"The policy to withhold names may foster misinformation, and fetter journalists' ability to gather credible and accurate details of a story that is in the public interest." says Koenigsfest.

RCMP spokespeople have cited privacy laws as the reason for the change in policy. The Privacy Act does allow for the release of names that are already public 69(2), or in the public interest or interest of the individual named 8(2)(m).

Journalists throughout Canada follow RTDNA Canada's Code of Ethics. Article four states "journalists will respect the dignity, privacy and well being of everyone with whom they deal, and will make every effort to ensure that newsgathering and reporting does not unreasonably infringe privacy except when necessary in the public interest." Journalists have long respected the wishes of grieving families when police have indicated a family's request for privacy.

RTDNA Canada has for more than 50 years set the professional standard for electronic journalism. Nearly 40 years ago, this organization (then RTNDA) opposed a similar move, in 1976, a proposal by the London Ontario police to stop naming victims was rejected by RTNDA.

RTDNA Canada today restates what was said in 1976; that we "support the rights of Canadian citizens to be informed of pertinent police information."

RTDNA Canada urges the RCMP to consider the public interest that is not being addressed in the recent RCMP policy change, and to resume naming victims of major crime and accidents.

RTDNA Canada is the voice of electronic and digital journalists and news managers in Canada. The members of RTDNA Canada recognize the responsibility of broadcast journalists to promote and to protect the freedom to report independently about matters of public interest and to present a wide range of expressions, opinions and ideas. The RTDNA Canada Code of Ethics, adopted by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, is used to measure fairness and accuracy in our profession.

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