2: The Star Mission and Atkinson Principles
3: Trust and The Star
4: Our Journalistic Standards
5: Accuracy and Corrections Policy
6: Diversity Policy
7: Anonymity and Confidential Sources
8: Conflict of Interest
9: News and Opinions
10: Paid Content
11: Affiliate Links
12: Contact Us
Wheels.ca is owned by Toronto Star Newspapers Limited and Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Founded in 1892, the Toronto Star has long been Canada’s largest daily newspaper. Now a multi-platform news organization, the Star publishes a newspaper seven days a week in the Greater Toronto Area and publishes ongoing news and information to a global audience on thestar.com on web and mobile applications.
The Star is owned by Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Torstar Corp. Torstar Corporation is a broadly based, progressive media company, with a long history in daily and community newspapers, book publishing and digital businesses. Built on the foundation of the Toronto Star, Torstar has grown into a diversified media company with a growing portfolio of businesses and investments that reach consumers in Canada, the United States and around the world.
The company publishes more than 80 newspapers and operates dozens of digital businesses in Canada through its main operating segments, Daily News Brands, Community Brands and Digital Ventures.
Daily News Brands, led by its flagship brand, the Toronto Star, also includes thestar.com, one of the most-visited newspaper websites in Canada, as well as The Hamilton Spectator, Waterloo Region Record, St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review, Welland Tribune, Peterborough Examiner and and the Chinese-language newspaper Sing Tao Daily.
The Community Brands segment publishes more than 80 community newspapers in print and online and has numerous properties, distribution services, directories, specialty publications and operates a variety of consumer shows.
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The Toronto Star is a multi-platform news organization that makes things happen. We inform, connect, investigate, report and effect change.
The purpose of the Toronto Star is to keep our customers informed about what matters most to them, to help make their life, community, country and world better. Our mission is to deliver trusted news, information and content on all platforms.
We focus public attention on injustices of all kinds and on reforms designed to correct them. We are the news organization people turn to when they need help; when they want to see the scales balanced, wrongs righted; when they want powerful people held to account.
The Star has long been guided by the values of Joseph E. Atkinson, publisher from 1899 to 1948. Throughout his leadership Atkinson developed strong views on both the role of a large city newspaper and the editorial principles it should espouse. These values and beliefs now form what are called the Atkinson Principles, the foundation of the Star’s ongoing commitment to investigating and advocating for social and economic justice.
The principles Atkinson espoused were founded on his belief that a progressive news organization should contribute to the advancement of society through pursuit of social, economic and political reforms. He was particularly concerned about injustice, be it social, economic, political, legal or racial.
Fundamental to Atkinson’s philosophy was the belief that the state has the right, and duty, to act when private initiative fails. The central Principles can be summarized as follows:
Learn more about the history of the Toronto Star and Joseph E. Atkinson, Publisher, 1899-1948.
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Trust is the core of the relationship between a news organization and its audiences. As the Star’s longtime publisher Beland Honderich said in November 1972, on the occasion of the opening of the Star’s new offices at One Yonge St.: “The most valuable asset a newspaper can have is its reputation for telling the truth.”
Much has changed since then, with the Star now publishing on multiple digital platforms to a global audience. But, what cannot be altered is the Star’s strong commitment to building and maintaining its credibility with its customers by providing trustworthy news and information — news and information that is accurate, accountable and ethically produced.
To that end, the Star has taken several steps to enhance reader trust:
The Trust Project
The Trust Project is a global network of news organizations building Trust Indicators to affirm and amplify journalism’s commitment to transparency, accuracy, inclusion and fairness so that the public can make informed news choices. Led by award-winning American journalist Sally Lehrman. The Trust Project’s initial funder was Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, as part of the Trustworthy Journalism Initiative of Craig Newmark Philanthropies. Google was an early financial supporter as well. The project is also supported by the Democracy Fund, Facebook and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
In 2017, the Star also launched its own Trust Committee, which aims to foster greater trust by providing a window into the journalism we produce. Staff from across Torstar Corp. meet regularly to develop ways to improve transparency, while trust feature articles offer readers a window into the reporting and decision-making behind our news and feature stories.
The Star holds itself accountable for its journalistic standards. Readers who have concerns about the accuracy or integrity of the Star’s journalism have access to our public editor’s office, which handles queries about accuracy and the Star’s journalistic standards, in line with our commitment to accountability and transparency.
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The Torstar Journalistic Standards Guide provides a comprehensive code of journalistic principles and conduct to guide Toronto Star journalists in their mission to responsibly engage and connect our readers on all platforms with trusted news, information and content.
Here are the general editorial principles that provide the foundation for this guide:
The Star has responsibilities to its customers, its clients, its shareholders and its employees. But the operation of a news organization is, above all, a public trust, no less binding because it is not formally conferred. Our overriding responsibility is to the democratic society.
Freedom of expression and of the press must be defended against encroachment from any quarter, public or private. Journalists must ensure that the public’s business is conducted in public. They must be vigilant against all who would exploit the press for selfish purposes.
Journalists who abuse the power of their professional roles for selfish motives or unworthy purposes are faithless to that public trust.
The Star is a forum for the interchange of information and opinion. It should provide for the expression of disparate and conflicting views. It should give expression to the interests of minorities as well as majorities, of the powerless as well as the powerful. See our Diversity Policy.
ACCURACY AND TRUTH
Good faith with the reader is the foundation of ethical and excellent journalism. That good faith rests primarily on the reader’s confidence that what we print is correct. Every effort must be made to ensure that everything published in the Star is accurate, is presented in context, and that all significant sides are presented fairly.
Journalistic integrity demands that significant errors of fact, as well as errors of omission, should be corrected promptly and as prominently and transparently as warranted. See our Corrections policy.
The Star should respect the rights of people involved in the news, be transparent and stand accountable to the public for the fairness and reliability of everything it publishes. Fair news reports provide relevant context, do not omit relevant facts and aim to be honest with readers about what we know and what we do not know. Our core fariness standard demands that any subject of potentially harmful allegations must be given opportunity to respond.
Independence from those we cover is a key principle of journalistic integrity. We avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts. The Star believes in paying the costs incurred in gathering and publishing news. In circumstances where that may not be possible, we disclose information that could create the perception of a conflict of interest. Transparency with our readers and openness about the potential for conflicts should guide our considerations about real or perceived conflicts.
To be impartial does not require a news organization to be unquestioning or to refrain from editorial expression. Sound practice, however, demands a clear distinction for readers between news and opinion. All content that contains explicit opinion or personal interpretation should be clearly identified as opinion or analysis, as appropriate.
Every person has a right to privacy. There are inevitable conflicts between the right to privacy, the public good and the public's right to be informed about the conduct of public affairs. Each case should be judged in the light of common sense and humanity.
Here are some of the core policies included in our Standards Guide:
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There can be no compromise with accuracy. Accuracy is our most basic contract with readers and is the responsibility of everyone in our newsrooms. Accuracy is grounded in verification, the essence of journalism. We must check and double-check all the information we publish, including information from all other publications.
Mistakes will happen. When they do, we correct our errors. Corrections serve the reader and they serve the public record. They are essential to building and maintaining trust with our readers. Anyone who becomes aware of a possible error has responsibility for alerting those responsible for corrections in their newsrooms.
Our corrections are guided by the core principles of accountability and transparency. We are accountable to our readers for the accuracy of the information we publish in stories, headlines, photos, cutlines, social media, graphics, data, videos and any other content on all of our platforms. We correct errors of fact in a clear, transparent manner on the platform(s) in which the error was published, as promptly as possible. We make clear to readers the correct information and the context and magnitude of the mistake.
On all of our platforms, it should be clear to readers how to report a possible error.
You can find our corrections here.
You can learn how to report an error here.
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Inclusiveness is at the heart of thinking and acting as journalists. Torstar newsrooms aim to reflect the diversity of our communities and respect the human rights and equal dignity of all. We aim for a variety of voices as sources and contributors in our news and opinion.
We seek to foster greater community understanding about ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status and physical/mental ability and do not perpetuate hurtful stereotypes.
Generally no reference, direct or indirect, should be made to a person’s race, colour or religion unless it is pertinent to the story.
In the case of a missing person or a criminal suspect at large, there may be justification for identifying race or colour as part of a full description that provides as many details as possible. Avoid vague descriptions that serve no purpose. At times, a group may make race a public issue. In such cases, the person’s race becomes relevant to the news.
Religion is important to the lives of many of our readers. We should not hold up one religion or set of beliefs as superior to another. Do not single out a religion or religious practice for ridicule or stereotyping or use profanities considered offensive to any religions.
We treat men and women equally and respect diverse gender identities, including people who identify as neither male nor female.
Torstar is committed to this same inclusiveness and diversity reflective of our communities in its hiring, promotion, development and retention of its staff.
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The public interest is best served when news sources are identified by their full names. Torstar journalists are aggressive in pressing sources to put information on the record and seek independently to corroborate off-the-record information.
We do not provide anonymity to those who attack individuals or organizations or engage in speculation — the unattributed cheap shot. People under attack in our publications have the right to know their accusers.
There are times when reporters need confidential sources to serve readers and democracy. Responsible journalism in the public interest often depends on these confidential sources who give journalists information that powerful people seek to keep secret. There are times also when some sources, such as underage or other vulnerable people, may require anonymity in telling their stories.
Torstar journalists must discuss using confidential sources with their department head, and in some cases the newsroom’s most senior editor. They must always reveal the source’s identity to editors, and provide a compelling argument for why the source will not be named in news reports. Senior editors have responsibility to work with reporters to assess the credibility of all sources including confidential sources.
Once any promise is made to grant anonymity, we protect our source, only revealing their identity with that person’s permission.
Published articles must explain why sources have been granted anonymity and why we consider them authoritative and credible. Confidential sources should have first-hand knowledge of the information and this must be conveyed to the reader. We should publish as much information as possible about the source — including why they sought confidentiality — without revealing identity.
The definitions and ground rules for not naming a source must be discussed with sources. Any further promises made or deals brokered with any source must be discussed in advance with senior editors and are subject to the following:
Composites, where several sources are compiled into one person, are not used. Pseudonyms are used only rarely, with a senior editor’s permission, and must be declared as such in stories.
The source and the journalist must be clear on what has been agreed to and that agreement must be shared with the department manager. Torstar journalists keep their promises.
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Independence from those we cover is a key principle of journalistic integrity. We avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts. In circumstances where that may not be possible, we disclose information that could create the perception of a conflict of interest. Transparency with our readers and openness about the potential for conflicts should guide our considerations about real or perceived conflicts.
These policies apply to all outside interests that could cause our audiences to question the fairness and independence of our journalism.
We seek primarily to ensure that our reporters’ reputations as fair-minded fact-finders are not compromised by public displays of political or partisan views on public issues, nor influenced by personal involvement or personal axe-grinding on issues we cover.
Opinion journalists have greater leeway on these matters, in line with the latitude to express their own views in their work.
All Torstar editorial staff should inform their immediate supervisors of any outside activity that could result in a conflict of interest, or reasonably perceived conflict of interest, that could cause our audiences to question the integrity of our work.
These policies are not intended to restrict the personal lives, interests or expressions of beliefs of Torstar journalists outside their work lives. Rather, as has been established through various arbitration processes across the company, they seek to ensure that any such personal activities and interests do not come into conflict with the public role of our news organizations in any way that could be seen to compromise our editorial independence and integrity.
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Drawing a clear line between news and opinion has long been one of the Toronto Star's core values. Broadly defined, news is based on the impartial reporting of facts while opinion is based on personal interpretation and the judgement of facts.
News content is verified information based on the impartial reporting of facts, either observed by the reporter or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources. News reports do not include the opinion of the author.
Analysis:A critical or contextual examination of an important and topical issue based on factual reporting. It provides an explanation of the impact or meaning of news events and draws on the authority and expertise of the writer. Analysis articles do not contain the author’s opinions.
Investigation:In-depth reporting in the public interest that reveals wrongdoing and/or systemic problems, holds those in power accountable and promotes positive change.
Explainer:Journalism that provides readers with the background knowledge they need to help them understand the how and why of events or issues.
Fact Check:A form of accountability journalism where reporters test the veracity of statements and/or assertions using a variety of credible, authoritative sources to root out disinformation.
Opinion articles are based on personal interpretation and judgment of facts. Opinion journalists have wide latitude to express their own views, subject to standards of taste and laws of libel including views directly contrary to the editorial views of the Star.
Editorial:An article that presents a point of view reflecting the news organization's position on an issue of public interest. Editorials are not meant to be a neutral presentation of the facts. They are written by journalists who are expressing the view of the news organization. As an editorial serves to present the company’s voice, there is no individual byline.
Opinion: Articles based on the author’s interpretations and judgments of facts, data and events. Opinion articles include columns written by staff and commentary from non-staff contributors. Opinion journalists have wide latitude to express their own views including views directly contrary to the news organization's editorial views, as long as they fall within the boundaries of taste and laws of libel. Columnists should not engage in personal axe-grinding or internecine debates with other columnists who write for their own or other publications.
Advice:An advice article reflects the opinion of the author, who provides guidance or direction on a topic based on their expertise as well as their personal interpretations and judgments of facts.
Blog:An online journal updated regularly by a journalist or editorial department that supplements news coverage. Blogs are usually informal or conversational in style and may reflect a writer’s opinions, subject to the rights and responsibilities of fair comment.
First person:Narratives exploring an author’s insights, observations or thoughts based on that individual’s personal experience and opinions.
Readers’ letters:A selection of letters by readers expressing a point of view, usually concerning a recently published article or current event.
Review:A critical assessment of the merits of a subject, such as art, film, music, television, food or literature. Reviews are based on the writer’s informed/expert opinion.
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The Star is committed to the principle that our audiences should not be confused about the distinction between our journalism – governed by our journalistic guidelines – and our advertising and other content driven by commercial interests. All commercial content is clearly labelled with one of the following:
Supported:Produced with financial support from an organization or individual, yet not approved by the underwriter before publication. Articles are held to strict journalistic standards but are funded by entities interested in being associated with or expanding attention to a particular topic.
Sponsored:Produced on behalf of an organization or individual that has paid the news provider for production and/or approved publication. It does not meet the standards of impartial or independent journalism because a sponsor has been involved in production or review before publication.
Advertisement:Supplied by an organization or individual that has paid the news provider for its placement. As a result, while it may be written in the style of the publication, it is not impartial journalism.
Partner Content:Produced in partnership with an organization or individual that has been involved in either the production or review of content before publication. Therefore, the content may not meet the standards of impartial or independent journalism.
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Our site occasionally uses affiliate links which means that the Star occasionally earns a small commission when a reader clicks on a link and purchases a product or service that we’ve featured. Affiliate revenue is a small percentage of commission shared between retailers, publishers and affiliate networks that connect them. The Star works with third-party affiliates Shopify, Amazon, and aggregator Skimlinks. Skimlinks has a relationship with many retailers and other publishers. When we include a product link in a piece of content, Skimlinks automatically places tracking code to the retailer link. When a reader clicks on an affiliate link, the tracking code places a cookie on the reader’s device that confirms if the reader makes a purchase from the retailer’s website. Skimlinks attributes a commission from the sale to the Star. If you do not want Skimlinks to store data about the websites you visit, the links you click and the merchants you buy from, you can opt out here.
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We value the views of our customers.
For general editorial feedback, please contact us at email@example.com
Accuracy concerns: The Toronto Star’s public editor’s office handles readers’ queries about accuracy and the Star’s journalistic standards, in line with our commitment to accountability and transparency. If you see a possible error, or have questions about the Star’s journalistic standards, please contact the public editor’s office at: firstname.lastname@example.org , telephone 416-869-4949 , or fax 416-869-4322.
Letters to the editor: If you want your comments expressing your view considered for publication as a Letter to the Editor, please send your message to email@example.com. Letters must include full name, address and all phone numbers of sender (daytime, evening and cellphone). Street names and phone numbers will not be published. The Star reserves the right to edit letters, which typically run 50-150 words. Please note: The Star receives many more letters than it has space to print. Due to the volume, we unfortunately cannot acknowledge every submission.
Submissions to the Star: Commentaries, opinion pieces, story pitches and press releases should be submitted to the section of the Star to which they are best suited. A full list of departments is published on the “Contact Us” page of the Star’s website.
How to reach a Wheels.ca journalist:Most staff members, including reporters, editors, columnists and photographers, can be reached by email. In most cases the email address follows this formula: first name + last name @wheels.ca. You can also reach staff in the Editorial department via phone at 1-877-307-2043. Editorial staff members can also be contacted within the department they work for. To reach a freelance writer, please contact the section in which their article appeared.