TORONTO – Unifor is extremely concerned about the reported editorial interference at Queen’s Park Briefing (QP Briefing). These are serious allegations that undermine the integrity necessary for independent, fact-based journalism.
Unifor was made aware of allegations of editorial interference at QP Briefing late last week, which propelled a journalist and a management editor to resign in protest. The union strongly condemns any action that leads to this kind of editorial interference.
“We believe that the freedom of the press is a principle that exists to build and ensure trust in the media, in reporting and in journalists,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne. “When an employer allegedly kills a story based on political pressure before it can be published, it erodes democracy and undermines truth.”
On Feb. 8, QP Briefing reporter Charlie Pinkerton and editor Jessica Smith Cross both announced they were quitting due to purported interference from the top down on a controversial story on Premier Doug Ford’s daughter’s stag-and-doe where a number of developers had been on the guest list. Permission to publish the story as written was denied despite proof of journalistic due diligence.
Pinkerton tweeted, “I’m not happy about it. I resigned on a matter of principle.” While Smith Cross wrote in her resignation letter, “I can’t work for an organization where the owners interfere with the journalism.”
The story was subsequently picked up by other media outlets.
QP Briefing and iPolitics were acquired by Paul Rivett in the splitting of NordStar assets determined by a court arbitration last November. Jordan Bitove retained full ownership of Torstar.
In December, Unifor organized the staff of iPolitics. It is Unifor’s position that QP Briefing staff are employed by iPolitics and are included in this certification. This will be determined in collective bargaining.
“We support journalists and their right to do their jobs without editorial interference,” said Local 87-M President Carleen Finch. “With media being attacked as ‘fake news,’ here you had a reporter who was persistently trying to hold government to account and being shut down for it. It’s disgraceful.”
Unifor represents more than 10,000 media workers, including journalists in the broadcast and print news industry.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.
For more information, please contact Unifor National Communications Representative: Jenny Yuen at @email or (416) 938-6157.