Category: Journalism

What are the guidelines for how The Globe presents sponsored content?

This question comes from SurlyTorontoConsumer via Twitter: “Does the @globeandmail plan to ever disclose to readers which news articles are ‘sponsored’ by companies mentioned in them? #asktheglobe”

Sean Stanleigh, Managing Editor of Globe Edge Content Studio, responds:

In terms of stories that contain mentions of paying sponsors, we clearly disclose those relationships through use of the label Sponsor Content, highlighted at the top of each page, whether in print or online. These include advertorials and native advertising, in which advertisers have input into story ideation and final approvals on content prior to publication. These stories also use different visual cues, such as fonts and templates, and they live in a separate area of, which you’ll find here.

Click here for more information about Globe Edge Content Studio.

Hope that helps SurlyTorontoConsumer. If you have a question that you would like answered, use #AskTheGlobe and we will do our best to search for the answer.

Shouldn’t The Globe do away with anonymous commenters?

“Should the Globe require real names be used in your online reader comments sections?” asks Dave Ings in Toronto. “It might elevate and civilize the tone of the discussions and reduce the trolling.”

The Globe’s senior social media editor Melissa Whetstone says that’s a commonly-considered option in the newsroom – but we’re not convinced. “We’ve also wondered whether The Globe should require commenters to use their real names. and whether doing so would improve the level of conversation on our site,” Whestone says. It’s a subject of much debate with no simple answer:

How do you force commenters to use their real names in the first place? It’s easy enough to create a fake profile. You could force users to sign up with one of their social media profiles, but what’s stopping them from setting up a fake account there? Besides, it’s not like Facebook or Twitter is troll-free. People there are often not shy about posting abusive or offensive comments under their real names, right along with that profile photo of them and their smiling kids.

There’s also the argument that not allowing anonymity would stifle discussion around sensitive or controversial topics. Maybe you have a deeply personal story you think would add value to a conversation, but don’t necessarily want your co-workers to come across it. Chances are you wouldn’t bother to share it.

The Globe is aware that our commenting system is not perfect. But we have mechanisms to try and make it a place for valuable discussion and debate. We have options to report for abuse comments and users who break our community guidelines. Moderators review these reports and remove comments or block users when warranted. When covering topics that tend to attract a high number of abusive comments, we set articles to premoderation. This means all comments on that article must be reviewed by a moderator before appearing online.

Some news organizations have removed comments from their site entirely, unable or unwilling to tolerate the troubles any longer. That’s a shame. There’s still value in comments  -whether on our own site or social media. (Take a look at this piece we published last week as one example.) The Coral Project is one group looking at ways to improve community and commenting on news sites through technology. I’m eager to see what they come up with. I’m sure many readers are too.

Follow Melissa Whetstone on Twitter, and read more on the subject: Online anonymity is too precious to give up


Why isn’t Elizabeth May included in The Globe’s federal election debate?

 “Why isn’t Elizabeth May invited to debate?” asks @bodica23 on Twitter. “I’m beyond disappointed!” This has been a popular question and sentiment from many Globe readers. Here’s our answer:

The Globe & Mail is hosting a federal election debate in September in partnership with Google Canada.  The debate, to be hosted in Calgary, will be streamed live on The Globe’s website and distributed on YouTube, and will focus on the Canadian economy.

We have invited the major party leaders to this debate  – those who have official status in The House of Commons.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have been asked to take part, because we believe a more streamlined, effective conversation about the Canadian economy will take place in that format.

David Walmsley, The Globe’s editor-in-chief says,  “We’ve set up the debate this way because we believe that by limiting the format to Canada’s three main party leaders, we will create a truly focused, successful discussion about the state of the Canadian economy.”

There are now at least three independently organized leaders’ debates in the works. Politics reporter Steven Chase writes:

“Mr. Harper’s Conservatives kicked off a spat with major broadcasters including the CBC, Radio-Canada, CTV and Global when they announced they would refuse an invitation to participate in debates organized by the broadcasting consortium, instead opting for a variety of independent debates.‎ Kory Teneycke, a spokesman for the Conservative Party campaign, said in a statement that he hopes major broadcasters will cover the independent debates.”

Read more of The Globe’s federal election coverage here, and check out more about The Globe’s debate here

What’s the difference between publisher and editor? Can either be considered CEO?

“In the newspaper business, what is the difference between an editor and a publisher?” asks Richard Seymour, in Brechin Ontario. “What functions do they perform ? Do they work together? Can either be considered a Chief Executive Officer?” Sylvia Stead, The Globe’s public editor, explains:

Thanks for the question Richard. Simply put, at most print-based or online news organizations, the publisher is the boss. The publisher might be the owner in some smaller organizations, but in any case,  she or he will represent the owner’s interest in the newspaper or website. At The Globe, that person is Phillip Crawley, who was appointed publisher and CEO in 1999. The publisher must be concerned with the overall business from editorial, to printing and circulation, advertising, digital, overall business strategy and finance and more. So yes Richard, the publisher is the CEO.

The editor and in the case of The Globe and Mail, the title is editor-in-chief, that person has overall responsibility for the journalism. The editor-in-chief also sits on the publisher’s executive committee along with the heads of other departments. Our editor-in-chief is David Walmsley, who took the reins in 2014.

This is the typical publisher and editor structure for most newspapers and websites. Some, especially smaller media groups, will combine roles and have an editor-publisher and some chain publications will have regional publishers responsible for several titles.

Check out Canada Q&A with David Walmsley here, and follow Sylvia Stead on Twitter


Are the press questions for Harper vetted first by the PMO?

Mark Rogers in Peterborough, Ont. asks: “Are the questions asked by reporters vetted first by the PMO? Are the number of questions limited? And how are questions chosen?”  Political columnist and author John Ibbitson, who has reported from Ottawa, and is now The Globe’s writer-at-large, has a biography of Stephen Harper that will be released later this year. He sheds some light into the relationships between Harper and the media:

Relations between Stephen Harper and the Parliamentary Press Gallery are notoriously testy. Actually, that’s not accurate. Testy implies that some kind of relationship exists, and there really is none between the gallery and this prime minister.

Mr. Harper last convened a press conference in Ottawa in December 2012, to explain his decision to permit the acquisition of the Canadian energy company Nexen by the Chinese firm CNOOC. There may be no other developed nation in which a head of government has gone more than two years without holding a press conference.

The most common situation in which reporters are able to directly question Mr. Harper occurs after a meeting with another government leader, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was in Ottawa on Monday.

Read more

Why so little coverage on Nigeria and Boko Haram?

 “Why so little coverage on Nigeria and Boko Haram?,” asks Jon Ekelund in Chilliwack, B.C. “Is it due to lack of information readily available, or perceived lack of interest?” The Globe’s foreign editor, Susan Sachs, answers your question:

Getting credible information about events in northeastern Nigeria, where the rampages of Boko Haram have killed and displaced thousands of people, is difficult.

The challenges were underscored after the massacres reported in the towns of Baga and Doro Gowon earlier this month: Cellphone service was spotty or nonexistent in the area, the government is dysfunctional or absent, survivors were fleeing for their lives, and Nigerian officials and politicians gave no information or provided widely varying accounts.

Over a period of many days, journalists and human rights groups in the region were evaluating the widely disparate reports and locating eyewitnesses.

The Globe regularly published stories as information and details emerged after the massacres – just as we did after the atrocious kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls last year.

Africa correspondent Geoff York (follow him on Twitter here) traveled to Nigeria last June after the kidnapping, and he is now on a reporting trip in Nigeria.

Read Geoffrey York‘s recent stories from on the ground in Nigeria:

Boko Haram launches bold attack on strategic Nigerian city

Satellite images show evidence of Boko Haram massacre

Boko Haram’s expanding stranglehold risks legitimacy of Nigeria’s election

Read The Globe’s recent editorial Let us mourn for Paris, and no less for Nigeria – and follow our ongoing coverage of Nigeria and Boko Haram here

How do you decide whether or not to close comments on a story?

Reader Jim Rowland asks, “What are the factors involved in determining whether comments will be allowed for a story online?” Senior social media editor Melissa Whetstone explains:

We encourage readers to comment on most of the articles we publish to our website it helps further The Globe’s goals of fostering a national debate on events and issues in Canada and around the world.

Comments from readers have helped inform our reporting and provide valuable feedback, both positive and negative. But there are cases when we must close comments:

1)  A story involves a Canadian trial, crime or other legal case, and comments could breach a publication ban or reveal information that could put The Globe at risk. In this situation, an editor will close comments as soon as the story is published. Readers will see a message that says “Comments have been disabled. We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. We appreciate your understanding.”

2)  A story provokes a high number of comments that are offensive, vulgar, racist and/or libelous. In this case, the value of having comments is outweighed by the harmful nature of the discussion. Readers will then see this message: “Comments have been disabled because of a disproportionate amount of absuive/inflammatory comments. We appreciate your understanding.”

We very rarely close comments for the second reason since we now have the ability to premoderate comments on articles. Premoderation means every comment on the article must be approved by a moderator before appearing on the site. We’ve found that this feature has helped improve the level of conversation around articles that deal with a particularly contentious issue.

For more, check out The Globe’s community guidelines.

Why does your Financial Facelift feature profile well-off Canadians?

Bradley Pascoe, in Ottawa asks: Why do so many people profiled in your Financial Facelift feature have incomes/net worth far in excess of the average Canadian? Low-income Canadians are more in need of advice than the well-off.” The Globe’s Investment Editor, Sonali Verma, says she completely agrees:

We would be delighted to have more applicants who represent the average Canadian and who could use free, confidential advice from a financial planner.

Almost anyone can apply for a Financial Facelift. The process works by interested applicants emailing the author, Dianne Maley. They need to be comfortable disclosing your financial details and having their photograph taken in a clever way (here are some great examples) so that your identity is obscured. We find a lot of potential candidates get cold feet at this point.

The applicant needs to have an income or an asset that can be converted to income, so that the planner has something to work with. They also need to be a resident of Canada.

Pretty much everyone who follows through gets a Facelift. But, as Maley points out: “Most applicants have pensions, management jobs or money. It’s not that we set applicants of more modest means aside. We jump on them!”

She adds: “For the most part, we reject people who are extremely wealthy and people who are writing in to show how well they are doing. Many readers don’t understand that it’s not a showcase for successful money management.”

We can only work with what we get. Speaking for myself, I love learning about different strategies that financial planners use for our applicants from different age groups and financial situations, each with a different set of challenges – and I would love to see that range be even wider. So, if you or someone you know would like free financial planning advice, please ask them to email us, in confidence.

Follow Sonali Verma on Twitter. You can also read some recent Financial Facelifts that represent some financial challenges the average Canadian deals with – debt, mortgages, retirement planning, and unwise spending:

· Couple needs to get back on track to a comfortable retirement

· Can Elise, 54, down-shift to part-time work by age 60?

· Risk-averse, 64, and ready for her own condo

· Single mother needs a firmer rein on her expenses

· Millennials with debt face rent-or-buy dilemma

· Couple’s retirement plan meets cold reality

· This couple must stop money from slipping through fingers

· Should this medical resident, 27, repay debt or build investments?

· Couple wants to retire, but their investments are down $350,000 since 2005

Why does The Globe write Kiev? The Ukrainian spelling is Kyiv

This is a common question Globe staff receive from readers. Adrianna Grod in Toronto asks: “Why does the G&M continue to write Kiev?  This is the Russian spelling of the capital of Ukraine.  The Ukrainian spelling for this Ukrainian city is Kyiv.”  Report on Business copy editor and Globe style guru Greg O’Neill explains:

The answer is in the “foreign and French words” entry (subsection “proper names”) in The Globe and Mail’s Style Book. Kiev is the accepted English translation for the Ukrainian proper name Kyiv.

In the past, this style decision has created controversy with some of our readers, but it must be stated that it is based solely on language translation, not political considerations. Also, Kiev is used by many major English-language newspapers, such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

From The Globe’s Style Book:

“The names of foreign provinces or other jurisdictions, and geographical features such as mountains and lakes, need not be translated, unless they are known in the English-speaking world by traditional English names. We also use available English names for countries (Germany, not Deutschland) and for cities (Florence, not Firenze; Rangoon, not Yangon; Kiev, not Kyiv).”

Interested in what’s going on in Kiev? Read our coverage from Ukraine, and a recent answer from Doug Saunders on Putin’s end-game and Western response