Code of Ethics
AJAC Ethics and Member Conduct Guidelines
The purpose of AJAC is to promote, encourage, support and facilitate professionalism in Canadian automotive journalism and to ensure factual and ethical reporting about the automobile and automotive issues.
By accepting membership in AJAC, journalists agree to conduct and present themselves in a professional manner. AJAC members are expected to represent Canadian automotive journalism at its highest level, and members shall act accordingly during media events, when testing or reviewing automobiles or automobile-related products, and in the content they publish for their respective audience.
Members shall represent AJAC in a positive manner and present themselves respectfully through the work they do and their personal interaction, whether through their work, face-to-face interaction or online. They will dress appropriately at all media events.
AJAC recognizes that contemporary, legitimate automotive journalism takes many forms. AJAC members may publish their content via traditional print, online publications, video or radio presentation, or any combination thereof, and are held to the same levels of accountability for conduct and accuracy, regardless of medium.
AJAC journalist members must have a regular and recognized outlet for their work. Members who change or lose outlets are permitted a period of one year to reestablish an alternate outlet before being considered to have left the profession.
AJAC members strive to provide honest, informed and original perspective of the vehicles they review and the subjects that they cover.
AJAC members who review vehicles base their opinions on first-hand experience behind the wheel, which may be supplemented by data produced independently by credible sources, as well as information supplied by the manufacturer.
AJAC members shall make every effort to report facts and accurate information and data, and are expected to make prompt corrections when mistakes are made.
AJAC members shall not allow personal biases to prevent truthful and accurate reviews and reporting.
Photographs, audio and video files must not be altered to misrepresent or mislead an audience.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
AJAC journalist members do not accept vehicle review assignments from automobile manufacturers for publication in brand magazines.
AJAC journalist members do not accept compensation, monetary or otherwise, from the automobile manufacturers and other companies that they report on. This includes selling the right to republish quotations from their work in advertising, though their publication has the right to this for its own income. The exception is made for attendance at events, when they can expect coverage to be provided for the reasonable costs of travel, accommodation, meals and other requirements necessary to their work.
An AJAC journalist’s only allegiance is to his or her public and publication.
AJAC journalists do not write positive articles with a view to receiving invitations to press events, or gifts paid for by manufacturers.
AJAC journalist members must not be influenced by advertisers in the reviewing and reporting of vehicles, products or industry news.
Occasionally, AJAC journalists are offered gifts by companies and manufacturers that they report on. These are intended as souvenirs and mementoes. Similarly, journalists are sometimes offered tickets to sports or entertainment events. While most salaried staff at organizations are prohibited from accepting such gifts, it is the AJAC journalist’s individual choice as to whether to accept the gift, decline it courteously, or accept it and donate it to a charitable cause.
AJAC journalists are sometimes offered, or request, product for testing and reporting on that is connected in some way to their work, for example, tires, cleaning products, or motorcycle helmets. Often, the product is of little value when returned, so if the provider of the product is willing to give it to the journalist, it is again the journalist’s individual choice as to whether to keep it, return it, or donate it to a charitable cause.
In order to produce vehicle reviews, AJAC members typically source subject vehicles from the manufacturer's "press fleet," evaluating the vehicle for a period of one or two weeks.
On occasion, an AJAC journalist member may request or be offered use of a vehicle for a term longer than the typical one- or two-week road test period. A sound editorial reason, such as a request by an outlet for evaluation by multiple individuals, or challenges of scheduling, should accompany acceptance of a vehicle for an extended term.
No member should request vehicles for review without intending to report on that vehicle in
some way in a valid publication.
AJAC member journalists do not copy or reproduce the work of other journalists or content providers, in part or whole, without appropriate attribution and permission.
AJAC members do not give their work away for no compensation, and will not permit its publication for a token amount.
A reasonable expectation of payment is either a minimum of $50 gross or at least 10 cents a word for any published story. Most credible automotive journalists working for respectable outlets should expect to be paid considerably more than this.
AJAC members do not operate publications, new or existing, that do not compensate journalists fairly for their work.
Advertorial is any and all material used for the purpose of promoting a product. It should be clearly labeled as publicity, advertising or advertorial.
Advertorial, by definition, is not journalism. Consequently, a journalist must not permit his or her byline to be attached to advertorial materials.
An AJAC journalist member must not engage in regular business activities with car manufacturers, their dealers, or their agents. The exception to this is if a member is the publisher of his or her outlet, in which the activities must be for the benefit of the outlet, not the individual journalist.
BREACH OF ETHICS
Unethical behaviour (that is, behaviour contrary to AJAC's Ethics and Member Conduct Guidelines document) should be reported to the AJAC Board of Directors, who will determine an appropriate response. The response may extend to revoking AJAC membership.
A member may be disciplined for failing to comply with the association’s “Ethics and Member Conduct Guidelines”. Discipline shall be in accordance with the Discipline Process established by the Board and amended by resolution. The Discipline Process sets out the procedure for investigating complaints, hearing allegations, and making appeals to the Board. It also sets out the occasions when the discipline may take the form of a warning, reprimand, suspension, probation, or cancellation as well as the terms, conditions, and limitations of the penalty.