ONO Newsletter February 2022


Wednesday March 9th, 1200 UTC

(7.00am New York & Toronto, 9.00am Buenos Aires, 12.00 noon London, 1.00pm Amsterdam & Copenhagen, 2.00pm Cape Town, 9.00pm Tokyo, 11.00pm Sydney, etc…)

Come and join us for our first shop talk of the year.

It is a constant challenge when dealing with events and people that are fringe, minority, unsupported by the facts or deliberately misleading.

Do we cover them and, if so, how and why do we cover them?

Our first shop talk for 2022 will discuss several recent examples of this.

In the US, Steve Inskeep of NPR recently conducted a telephone interview with former president Trump.  It was the first time in six years that Mr Trump agreed to an interview with NPR.

It was a rigorous and well-regarded interview, but it also inevitably provided a platform for Trump to continue to spread a number of lies and distortions, leading some to ask whether he should have been interviewed at all.

You can find a transcript of that interview here as well as an example of some criticisms of it here.

Meanwhile in the UK, BBC Director of Editorial Policy and Standards, David Jordan, was giving evidence to a House of Lords Committee on whether, among other things, fringe or extreme views should be covered and how they should be covered. You can read his evidence here (the most relevant parts for us are around page 4 and pages 9-10) and you can also see some of the discussion it generated here.

Finally, the issue of dealing with anti-scientific arguments in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic has challenged us all. George Claassen in Sth Africa, who has great experience both as an ombudsman and a science journalist, shares this piece about how to approach the problem.

In summary, there is much to talk about, and I have no doubt our members will have experiences, observations and insights of their own to share on this timely and important  challenge.

So mark it in your diary, and join us via Zoom on Wednesday March 9th.

I will send a reminder closer to the time, but the Zoom link if you want to save it now will be:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81255893472?pwd=R1ZCN1JGWFRYOWRBdkwvR1dtMC9EQT09 Meeting ID: 812 5589 3472 Passcode: 999546


Nothing seems to attract as much passion and argument as the issue of bias in the news media. As ombudsmen and standards editors, it makes up a significant part of our daily work.

Here are two recent discussions that shed light on the issue in different ways.

In Canada, ONO Vice President and CBC Ombudsman Jack Nagler participated in a fascinating discussion about whether it is ever possible to eliminate unconscious bias, and why it matters.

You can listen to it here.

Meanwhile, in the US, a deeper dive on one key element of bias in the news.

So much of the risk around bias in news coverage is not so much what you say, but the way you say it.

This issue was touched upon in a recent newsletter from NPR, and it makes for interesting reading.


“google facebook” by stockcatalog is licensed under creative commons

What impact do the major online platforms have on journalism, and specifically on the business models for journalism? What should be done about it?

Australia has decided that the big platforms should pay for their use of news content, and the money should go to the news providers to help support journalism jobs.

Here’s a good summary of what the government there has done.

It’s a policy that is not without its critics.

Here is a Neiman Labs article that says its bad policy that is at risk of being picked up and copied around the world.


ONO President Margo Smit, a well-credentialled and courageous investigative journalist in her own right, has just been appointed to the jury of the prestigious UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize for the next 3 years.

The prize is awarded each year to a person, organization or institution that has made a notable contribution to the defence and/or promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially if risks have been involved. Last year’s winner was Maria Ressa from the Philippines.

You can read more about the prize here.


  • Review of Estonian election coverage gives it the thumbs up
  • A round up of reader reaction to covid coverage at the Toronto Star
  • A new book about Anne Frank prompts some reflections on embargoes
  • Danish Radio deals with the complex and sensitive issue of reporting on gender
  • The issue of how to train dogs causes plenty of controversy on Czech Radio


A new year means it’s time to pay your ONO membership fee. Those of you who are yet to pay will be receiving a reminder in the coming weeks. We use the funds to cover off our basic expenses, maintain our website, plan for future conferences and organise our regular shop talks. Thanks again to everyone for your support in our work.

Margo Smit                                                                                                            Alan Sunderland ONO President                                                                                                ONO Executive Director
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