Editorial Policy

We at SUNonline/Orillia endeavour to present the most complete and accurate stories and editorials. SUNonline is not a news website. We think of it more as information that becomes news. SUNonline/Orillia users may have seen or read something elsewhere about some of the stories we present, we want you believe we are more informative, and we certainly want you to trust us.

This is how we are going to do that.

Everything will have a byline, or producer credit. You can assume a SUNonline/Orillia contributor who appears in a video or podcast has some editorial control along with the producer if they are not the producer. If there is no byline, it is a press release.

First, it helps you to know what we mean by stories (news) and editorials.

Stories

Stories fall into a few camps.

1              News reportage is done in the traditional sense – what happened, who was involved, what did they say, just the facts.

2              SUNonline/Orillia does publish press releases. They are not labeled as such, but readers can tell from the tone and lack of a byline. We do not publish them verbatim all the time. We do not publish every press release we receive, but of the ones we do we want you to read them, so we may edit for clarity, poor use of English, and brevity – usually by removing some release content, but sometimes we will re-write and keep context. We will not use quotations supplied in a press release because that gives the impression SUNonline/Orillia spoke with someone and it is our story.

3              Investigative pieces are a grey area. By nature contributing journalists are sometimes personally involved in the story. They may not have been at first, but quite often become too deep with the subject matter. For the most part our contributing journalists are with SUNonline/Orillia because they have expertise and we expect them to utilize their knowledge and/or educational authority. We all are members of the communities we live in and care about our own backyards. You can expect, while any given investigative piece may have a strong news element, it may also take a position. See below for more on how we take positions.

Editorials

Editorials will always be labeled Op/Ed or Analysis. Columns are editorials by default; they may contain news, certainly information, but expect it’s from a point of view.

Editorials will have a byline and are considered that contributor’s learned opinion, except where consensus among several relevant contributors and editors is in agreement on a position; regardless of who writes an unsigned editorial it should be considered the position of the SUNonline/Orillia organization. Like the supreme court, if there is not unanimous agreement among staff, dissenting opinion will also be published.

Editor’s Practice

Contributors are not allowed to publish without going through a review process by an editor.

There will always be a byline, except for press releases.

Editors will question everything in any piece submitted by a contributor. Editors expect evidentiary proof to be in a story, or readily available to the public, or easily supplied by the contributor.

Sources of a data nature will be stated in stories; more than one corroborating source is ideal (though others may not be given space in a story or editorial for the sake of avoiding repetition or becoming boring). However, corroboration may not exist with stories containing new information. In that case it should be inherent in the content of the story it’s new ground and reference to old thinking or data should be presented.

Sources in quotation will always be unaltered from what is said, or sourced from another identified publication. SUNonline/Orillia encourages all contributors to use voice recorders and to transcribe accurately. Editors will demand access to original voice recordings when necessary.

Council reportage: Quotations are exactly as stated, with a “they said” attributed to the speaker under these conditions; it was said during the course of a meeting or proceeding for anyone to hear, or in answer to another journalist’s question in a media scrum situation. If the quote came from direct questioning by a SUNonline contributor either in a one on one interview or in answer to a SUNonline question in a media scrum it will also include “so and so told SUNonline/Orillia”.

Columnists

Our columnists contribute to SUNonline/Orillia because they are experts by experience, education or vocation; they speak from a position of authority. You can assume they know what they are talking about. You can assume columnists are taking a position with their pieces. However, editors will require evidentiary proof be submitted with columns that are presenting new or contrarian positions, or when presenting data to back contributor’s positions.

Political columnists are expected to not be members of, or do work for (including campaigning) any party, though they may have been in the past. They are encouraged to be apolitical with their journalism, though they may be informed by their political experiences. We don’t expect carpenters to have a wealth of political experience, and we don’t expect former political operators to have a wealth of carpentry expertise.

We expect observations by political commentators to be from a position of practicality and pragmatism; obvious partisanship won’t be tolerated. We encourage shots at all sides, not of just one political party or politician (though sometimes the actions of particular politicians make it hard to scatter the love to others).

Criticism of the government is just that, not of a party, or person, its policy and actions that matter. We will use the terms ‘municipal government,’ ‘provincial government,’ and ‘federal government’ instead of a party or politician’s name preceding the word government.

Humour columnists: don’t believe any of it, especially Foster.

Photos

Picture editing will be done by editors from original photographs. SUNonline/Orillia users should understand all digital photos must be processed to some degree to be published. If a contributor needs to edit a photo to make a point, or for artistic purpose, they will also have to submit the original to an editor as well so SUNonline/Orillia can ensure integrity. For example, photographers often take photos wider than the finished or published product to allow for cropping to fit space; this means some original picture content is extraneous to the central subject matter and will be removed.

It should be noted that the majority of photos published by SUNonline/Orillia will have some degree of artistic purpose related to the story – we want to publish great pictures. However, photos accompanying ‘news’ stories as defined above, will be published with a minimum of processing necessary to present for public consumption. Bottom line, SUNonline, and contributors, will not misrepresent the content of photos.

Photos presented essentially as taken, even if cropped, colour or luminance balanced, will be labeled “Photo by…”  Anything else that is significantly altered, added to by any means, composited with graphic or other photo elements will be labeled “Image.”

Photos sourced outside SUNonline/Orillia will also carry the name of the source/service and/or photographer if available.

Video and audio by necessity must be edited. SUNonline/Orillia will preserve the integrity of the content provided by those appearing in videos or audio productions. Contributors are required to keep the full recordings ‘as is’ before editing.

Overall Editorial Stance

SUNonline/Orillia is neither right nor left politically. We are firmly in the middle. We side with observable practicality and pragmatism, with evidence and/or examples provided.

We believe our responsibility is to provide you with reliable information that helps you with your daily lives. We are most concerned with events and happenings in Orillia, Rama and the surrounding townships. Events elsewhere are unimportant unless we perceive there is an effect on people here.

We do not believe in balance as the general media has recently come to define it . We will present contrasting and opposing viewpoints that have basis in rationality. The ship sailed on climate change, for example, and deniers have no place on this website. We would however, present conflicting points of view from those arguing how to deal with climate change, that’s relevant. The same goes for numerous other subjects.

We will not allow people who are part of stories to present observable and/or provable lies, except to expose those who are lying.

Notwithstanding this particular policy description, we will not be boring.

This policy will be added to, or refined as needed.