Complaints Process

Learn more about how the NNC handles complaints

The National NewsMedia Council considers complaints about accuracy, journalistic standards and ethics in gathering and reporting the news. Our complaints process follows the steps below.

Step 1: Contact the news organization. Before filing a complaint with the NNC, individuals are expected to work towards a resolution with the news media organization.

Step 2: File a complaint with the NNC. If the complaint is not satisfactorily resolved by the news media organization, an individual may choose to submit a complaint to the National NewsMedia Council.

Please note that the NNC only accepts specific, unresolved complaints about journalistic standards and ethics in news and opinion reporting published by our member publications.

For more information on what type of complaints we consider, please visit our page How to File a Complaint.

Step 3: Review of the complaint. Upon receiving the complaint, NNC staff review the submission. Staff determine whether the news media organization has been given sufficient opportunity to address the complaint, and verify whether the complaint falls within our mandate. If both of these conditions are met, the complaint moves to the mediation phase.


4A. News organization response. NNC staff contact the news media organization by email for a response to the complaint. Staff assist both parties through the process, and rely on the news outlet’s code of practice or generally accepted journalistic standards to resolve the complaint through corrective action, education, or other appropriate steps.

4B. Opportunity for clarification, education and correction. It is important that both parties provide all information relevant to the complaint and put their best case forward. If there is any outstanding information or explanation about the specific complaint following the news media organization’s response, the complainant and the news organization may provide further explanation to each other and the NNC in writing via email.

It is expected that all relevant information will be put forward in the first instance and that there will be a brief and limited round of rebuttal.

Both parties are requested to treat the content, submissions, and correspondence related to the complaint as confidential during the complaints process so as to ensure that due process is conducted in a fair and just manner.

In some cases, the issue may be resolved and the file closed at this stage.


Step 5: Staff recommendation. If staff determine the issue is still outstanding at this stage, both parties will be informed that the complaint will go to consideration by Council. NNC staff will consider both parties’ submissions and make a written recommendation to Council.

Step 6: Council review and deliberation. Council reviews and discusses the staff recommendation based on the appropriate journalistic and community standards. In some cases, Council may also determine to call a hearing into a complaint on the basis of public education, public interest, or in the case of a significant journalistic issue or matter of complexity. For more information on hearings, please visit our FAQ page.

Step 7: Decision issued. After careful deliberation, Council may decide to dismiss, uphold, or dismiss with reservations. The decision is sent to both the complainant and the news media organization before it is published on the NNC website. Decisions on complaints are final and not subject to appeal.