Note that the editorial board is responsible both for the editorials run by the paper and for overall news coverage (including such questions as how much space they give to stories relating to refugees, whether they have a journalist who regularly covers refugee issues, etc).

Potential benefits of meeting with the editorial board
·    The paper might run a pro-refugee editorial.
·    The paper might nuance its not-so-pro-refugee position.
·    The paper might adjust its coverage of refugee issues (e.g. more coverage, better informed coverage, more balanced coverage)
·    You might pick up tips about how to interest the paper in providing coverage of refugees

Requesting a meeting
·    Write to the editorial board asking for a meeting.
·    If you know friendly reporters or columnists at the paper, ask for their suggestions about the best approach.
·    Mention anniversary of Singh decision as a good occasion to discuss refugee issues.
·    Say something about your experience and expertise concerning refugees.
·    If they have run editorials on refugee issues, mention this as a sign that they are interested.
·    If they haven’t run editorials on refugee issues, mention this as a gap that they might want to fill.
·    If you have concerns about how the paper covers refugee issues, say that you have constructive input to offer.
·    Offer to provide them with information as well as opinions from people who have significant experience and expertise, as well as caring deeply about these issues.

Forming your delegation
·    Have 3-4 people go to the meeting.
·    Choose people who can talk intelligently and passionately about the issues that you want to cover.
·    Include at least one person with refugee experience in the delegation.

Forming your agenda
·    Find out beforehand how much time you will have and prepare accordingly.  Plan plenty of time for questions and discussion.
·    Include a point about the Singh decision, so you can tell them why refugee advocates celebrate April 4 each year.
·    Identify 2-3 key refugee issues that you would like to highlight (e.g. non-implementation of Refugee Appeal Division, Safe third country, painfully slow processing for privately sponsored refugees and refugee family reunification).  Make use of the CCR’s Refugee Rights Day materials (remember it is good to leave something in writing with people, whether it be a pamphlet or Fact Sheet, to help them remember and get more information.)
·    Identify any feedback (positive or negative) you want to give about the paper’s coverage of refugee issues: e.g. thank them if they have been running stories about refugees’ contributions, comment on editorials that are ill-informed or unfair to refugees, complain if they have been giving lots of space to anti-refugee positions and little to pro-refugees ones.

Running the meeting
·    Have your delegation prepared to make presentations on each item in your agenda.
·    Make sure you give time and opportunity for discussion – it can be much more productive to engage in dialogue than fill the time with presentations, which may not cover the points most of interest to the editorial board representatives.
·    Keep in mind the professional values generally held by news media: they aspire to objective, accurate and balanced news reporting and the expression of different points of view, through editorials, columns and op eds.  Your input should be geared to helping them meet these goals.
·    Adjust your comments based on the paper’s position: if they are hostile to refugees, you should aim to moderate their hostility; if they are generally quite positive, you should aim to give them more information and arguments to use.

March 2006