We believe that radical transparency increases trust. We demand it from the powerful every day. We post who they take money from, meet with, and give money to. We do this so we can hold them to account for their choices. We want our readers to do the same with us. Below you’ll find detailed information on our policies on everything from our funding to how we choose what to write about. Do you have a question that’s not covered below? Please contact us.
How we’re funded
The IJF is a nonprofit media outlet funded by donors who believe in the importance of public interest investigative journalism. We disclose the names of all our donors here.
Our policy on independence
We are a nonprofit nonpartisan newsroom focused on serving the public interest. Our reporting strives to expose wrongdoing among the powerful, including politicians and public servants. We do not endorse political parties or advocate for partisan political positions. We serve the Canadian public’s right to know and prioritize our readers’ ability to get important information above all else.
We maintain a firewall between business and editorial. People who give us money, including donors, subscribers and advertisers, have no editorial control over what we publish. We don’t show drafts of stories before they’re published to anyone.
How we find news
Ideas for stories can come from anywhere, whether from a conversation with a stranger, an odd thing we see on the way to the market, other news reports and research papers, or an interesting dataset we find online. Sometimes readers come to us with news tips.
You can send us a news tip securely and in full confidentiality by following the instructions on our contact page.
How we follow up on tips
When we receive a tip, we first make sure the information is credible: there is detailed information on the who, what, where and how. There are supporting documents that we can independently verify. We make sure this isn’t a shady attempt to smear another person or organization.
We talk internally to determine if a story based on the tip is in the public interest and in line with our mission. If needed, we reach out to the tipster to ask for more details, then to other people to ensure the veracity of the tip.
How we choose our sources
Having good sources is essential to good journalism. They provide new information, opposing viewpoints, commentary, analysis, and add a human voice to complex issues. We take good care in choosing our sources to ensure their contributions add value to our reports.
There are different kinds of sources, and we use different criteria to choose them.
- Whistleblowers: Some of the most important stories come from people taking great risks to inform on illegal or immoral activity by governments or large organizations. We welcome whistleblowers over at our tips page.
- People affected by an issue: If we’re reporting on a large systemic problem, we reach out to people affected by it to show the human impact. There are many ways to find such sources, like referrals, social media callouts, and court documents.
- Experts: these can be academics, authors, or professional specialists in a domain. We ensure they are recognised by their peers by looking at their published works, citations, the reputation of their employers, and work history.
- Spokespersons: these are people who speak on behalf of a company, government agency, or another person in some official capacity. We find them by contacting a media relations line or email address on official websites, or by asking a reception desk.
Our policy on anonymous sources
Transparency and credibility is at the heart of our work, and we expect the same from our sources. That’s why we almost always name our sources, and explain why we chose them in a story. If a source asks for anonymity, they must provide evidence that this is necessary and we will only grant anonymity in rare cases. For example, if going public puts them at risk for violence, retaliation, unemployment, or excommunication from their communities.
At the IJF, we aim to hold the powerful accountable with truthful and adversarial journalism. We provide people and institutions with a reasonable amount of time to respond before publishing anything negative about them. When we don’t receive a response, we do our best to summarize the position of those who are being criticized by relying on past public statements they’ve made.
We know that all of our reporters and editors have distinct points of view based on their education, the news they read and the people they surround themselves with. However, we require all staff to be accurate in their reporting, detailed in their note-taking and open with readers on how they determine what is and is not true. We believe in presenting facts to readers and letting them make up their own minds. That means we share our methodology, source documents and details on how we know what we know.
Our commitment to diversity
We’re committed to reflecting the diversity of the Canadian public in our work, whether in our staff or in our sources. We will always make an effort to reach out to sources who represent the gender and ethnic makeup of the country.
We’re committed to diverse hiring practices, including ensuring there’s at least one person of colour on our hiring panels and that at least one woman and one person of colour is shortlisted for every job. We’re proud to fill out the Canadian Association of Journalists diversity survey, which tracks the race and gender of staff at media outlets.
What we can and can’t report on
Like other news organizations in Canada, we are bound by laws that limit press freedom in certain situations. For example, when reporting on underage victims or offenders, or victims of sexual violence, we cannot name certain people. If a judge enacts a publication ban during a trial, this also limits the details that can be published.
Conflicts of interest
IJF staff are required to disclose any potential conflicts of interest when covering a story. If reporters have a financial stake in a company we’re covering, or a close relationship to a source, they must disclose this and they may be taken off the story to ensure impartiality.
For example, reporters should not write about a company where a spouse, close friend, or relative works. Likewise, reporters who write about oil companies should not own shares of an oil company or a mutual fund with a sizable energy component.
Staff members are required, in good faith, to disclose situations that could cause the appearance of a conflict of interest or favouritism, even if none exist. For example, if a family member, close friend, or spouse works at a company that the IJF covers in a story. These should be discussed with the editorial leaders, who decide how to best proceed.
Staff investment policy
IJF staff are not allowed to report on organizations that they, or an immediate family member, have a financial interest in. This includes, but is not limited to, companies that they hold individual stock in or that an immediate family member is employed at. In addition, staff may not buy or sell individual securities such as stocks of organizations that they have covered or that they intend to cover. Mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and other investments in a wide range of companies are permissible so long as the funds are overseen by a fund manager and the IJF staffer is not writing a story about that fund manager. Staff concerned about potential investment conflicts of interest should share their concerns with their immediate manager.
Corrections: what happens if we make a mistake
We strive to get the details of a story right every time. If there’s anything we’re uncertain of, we leave it out of the story or seek confirmation elsewhere. Despite our best efforts, we may get something wrong. If you see a factual error in one of our stories, write to: [email protected].
When we receive a request for a correction, we ask the responsible reporters to explain their process and provide proof that the request is unfounded. If it’s found that the reporter did make a factual error, a correction is added explaining what was wrong and how the story was changed. Corrections are posted at the bottom of stories, with the word “correction” in italics to clearly mark the change. If new information is added to a story post-publication we add the word “update” at the bottom along with a description of what new information has been added.
How our staff interacts with the public
IJF staff members may have a presence on social media, but the personal opinions they express do not necessarily represent the official positions of the organization. However, staff are required to be civil at all times and refrain from engaging in inflammatory arguments, as their actions may reflect poorly on the IJF. Abusive and discriminatory language is not tolerated.
Staff members are encouraged to engage in healthy and civil discussions and talk through disagreements with reason and understanding. And as members of a journalistic organization, they should remain loyal to facts more than any ideology in their exchanges.