NewsMedia Council rules in Tri-City News' favour over church article complaints

"An ordinary reading of the article did not indicate negativity or bias as referenced by the complainants," stated the National NewsMedia Council.

The National NewsMedia Council (NNMC) last week dismissed three complaints against The Tri-City News regarding an article last month about a federal all-candidates meeting that was to be held in a Coquitlam church.

The article — headlined "Candidates won’t attend church meeting" in the print edition and "Tri-City candidates boycott debate at Coquitlam church" at tricitynews.com — reported that a number of Tri-City candidates would not be attending an electoral forum planned for Westwood Community Church. Their actions came after a community activist alerted them to concerns about the pastor's participation in OneAccord, a religious document signed by hundreds of pastors and church leaders across Canada that calls out homosexuality and “transgender self-perception” as modern-day heresies.

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Three people complained to NNMC, "arguing that the article was biased and that it painted the church, and by extension Christians, in a negative light." One complainant alleged that the pastor of the church had been misquoted.

In responding to complaints — including about a dozen phone calls and more than 80 emails, many from outside the Tri-Cities and most containing the same text — The Tri-City News reviewed the recording of the interview with the pastor and found he was quoted accurately.

In reviewing the complaints and article in question, NNMC stated "An ordinary reading of the article did not indicate negativity or bias as referenced by the complainants… The NewsMedia Council identified no evidence of a breach of journalistic practice and dismissed the three complaints of bias and inaccuracy."

You can read the full text of the NNMC decision here.

• To see all The Tri-City News' federal election coverage, including videos of candidates, click here.

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