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Alberta Press Council - Complaint Procedures:
How to file a complaint.

Fill out our handy on-line COMPLAINT FORM





X. COMPLAINT PROCEDURES:

PART I

1. When the Alberta Press Council (APC) office is first advised of a concern by letter, phone, email or fax, the Executive Director shall log the concern and respond by letter notifying the complainant that a required first step in resolving the concern is to communicate directly with the member newspaper.

2. The Executive Director will provide the complainant with a copy of the Code of Practice document, the Complaint Procedure Policy and any additional relevant material.

3. If the complainant thereafter wishes to proceed with the complaint through the APC, the complainant must identify in writing the part(s) of the Code of Practice that the complainant believes have been violated by the newspaper. This request must be made within 60 days of the publication of the item that caused the concern. Complaint Form to be used is on www.albertapresscouncil.ca

4. The complainant shall provide the APC with a copy of the printed piece and copies of relevant written communication between them and the newspaper.

5. The Executive Director and the chair of the APC shall review the material submitted and advise the complainant in writing if the complaint meets the criteria in the Code of Practice.

5.1 Complaints must be specific. General complaints about the media or those concerning matters outside the APC’s mandate will not be accepted.

5.2 The APC will not accept third party complaints unless it is determined that extenuating circumstances exist.

5.3 All complainants must be residents of Alberta. Complaints from outside the province may be considered at the discretion of the APC Chair.

5.4 The APC does not accept complaints concerning a newspaper’s refusal to publish a letter to the editor. If the letter writer is mentioned in a story, he/she can complain about the story if they were not provided reasonable opportunity to comment on the original or subsequent stories.

5.5 The APC does not accept complaints concerning a newspaper’s prerogative to edit a letter to the editor.

6. All discussions regarding specific complaints for adjudication will be discussed in camera.

7. The Executive Director will forward all material related to the complaint to the publisher/editor of the newspaper involved. In the case of a member of the AWNA, a copy will be sent to the AWNA Executive Director and Chair.

8. The newspaper shall have 15 days from the receipt of the concern to respond to the complainant and send a written copy of such response to the APC.

9. If the concern is not satisfactorily resolved between the newspaper and the complainant; the complainant must request in writing that the APC adjudicate the complaint if he/she wishes to proceed.

10. Every effort will be made to mediate the complaint before adjudication is requested by the Complainant.


PART II
Pre-Adjudication Process:

1. The formal written complaint shall include:
a. The name, address, phone number and e-mail address, if available, of the complainant.
b. The description of the complaint, and a concise summary of the issues.
c. Reference to the specific Code of Practice believed infringed.
d. An original copy of the newspaper article, cartoon, picture or editorial. (On-line readers of member newspapers are required to submit a copy of the item in question as it appeared in the print edition of the newspaper).
e. Additional relevant material the complainant wishes to provide as evidence to support the complaint may be included.

2. The APC shall consider any complaint submitted to it as being lodged against the newspaper concerned and not against individual journalists.

3. Complainants must sign a waiver agreeing not to take legal action against the affected newspaper, the APC or individual members of the APC with respect to a formal complaint, and to release any rights of confidentiality related to the complaint, proceedings or its disposition.

4. If the Chair of the APC determines that the material submitted by the complainant meets the criteria for adjudication, the Chair will set the date for an adjudication.

5. The complainant, the newspaper against which the complaint has been made and the APC directors shall be informed and will be sent the materials related to the adjudication.

6. The adjudication may be held two ways – via teleconference with the Chair and the Executive Director and the newspaper representative in attendance along with the complainant. OR

If possible, an adjudication will be held in conjunction with the Spring General Meeting of the Alberta Press Council. All directors to be present in person. The complainant will be invited to attend at their own expense. If the complainant chooses not to be in attendance in person, they they will be present via teleconference. A newspaper representative must be in attendance with the complainant if this is the case.


PART III
The Adjudication


1. Except for the APC Industry Director appointed by the newspaper that is involved in the complaint, all APC Directors present will participate in the adjudication hearing.

2. The adjudication will be chaired by the APC chair.

3. The subject matter of the adjudication must not be in the process of being litigated through the Courts at the time of the hearing. No one may be represented by another party, unless there are extenuating circumstances and the representative is approved in advance by the APC chair. There is no cross-examination and no direct exchange allowed between the parties.

4 Both complainant and respondent will be given the opportunity to make a short (up to ten minutes) oral presentation to the APC. The chair will entertain questions from members of the APC who may request additional information or clarification.

5. The complainant and respondent will each have the opportunity for a two minute summary.

6. When there are no further questions, the complainant and respondent will be invited to leave the meeting and the APC will move in camera to rule on the complaint.

7. A press release containing the decision, relevant background, and rationale for the decision shall be prepared and released to the Complainant, member newspapers and the APC website within seven working days. Copies shall be sent to the newspaper involved, to the complainant, and to all members of the APC in advance of the press release.

8. The newspaper involved shall publish the full Press Release of the APC within one week of receipt and send a published copy to the APC.

9. All adjudications by the APC are final and not subject to appeal.

10. The yearly statistical summary of all complaints received will be published in the Annual Report of the APC and on the website.

Adopted 2015





For complaint stats, please view our PRESS RELEASE page.

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