Kusugak responds to survey

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

When Nunavut Tunngavik receives anonymous correspondence we toss it in the waste basket.

This does not seem to be the case at the Nunatsiaq News, which is now publishing anonymous “surveys”! (Jan. 3, 1997 edition, p. 19,”Nunavut Residents’ Survey on NTI’s AGM”)

The journalistic ethics and motives of a regional newspaper anonymously publishing such a biased, poorly developed, unprofessionally prepared research attempt must be called into question.

It is not entirely clear what the objective is, or the purpose of the survey. One thing that is clear is that Nunatsiaq News agrees with this politically motivatedquestionnaire, and is lending its resources to the author.

Its intent appears to be to prompt people to write your newspaper, expressing opposition to, or dissatisfaction with Nunavut Tunngavik.

It is my understanding that the ethics of anonymity in journalistic practice generally apply to situations where a writer or source’s life or livelihood might be placed at extreme risk if their identity were known.

Clearly no legitimate research effort in Nunavut would require such extraordinary measures! If the writer had brought questions directly to NTI, it would have been our pleasure to respond.

I believe anyone who is asked to respond to a survey has a right to know what individual or organizational hands their letter would be placed in, and what their motivation is.

I believe they also have a right to know how the information will be tabulated and analyzed, what “statistical biases” will be factored into the calculations by the researcher, the sample size of the survey response, what the survey’s margin for error accuracy rate is calculated at, what purpose the information will be put to, and what individuals or organizations will have access to the core data. None of this information has been provided.

Publishing anonymous surveys, with the publisher asked to compile the results, leaves me with the very strong impression that the journalistic standards followed by the Nunatsiaq News leave much to be desired.

Surely as a member of the Canadian Community Newspapers Association, and the Ontario Community Newspapers Association, you subscribe to a Code of Practice.

We will be following this matter up with the appropriate Press Council in the belief that it is unfair to collaborate with an individual to anonymously publish a politically motivated survey or this type.

The lines of communication to Nunavut Tunngavik are open in our democratic system of running the institutions that Inuit operate.

If publication of thisso called surveyis in the public interest, then the public and Nunavut Tunngavik must be made aware of the name of the individual that the publisher of Nunatsiaq News is collaborating with.

Jose A. Kusugak
President, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Editor’s note: Mr. Kusugak describes the open letter from a Baffin beneficiary we published as “anonymous,” which suggests we don’t know who the letter’s author is. We don’t publish letters without knowing the author’s identity. We talked to the author about Kusugak’s reaction to her letter and her reply appears below.

Beneficiary responds to Kusugak

This is in response to the president of NTI’s letterabout the small unofficial survey of NTI’s AGM.

Firstly, the letter is not anonymous as the author has requested that the name be withheld.

The survey was not intended to be professional ­ it is more of a, how should you say it? A wake-up-and-smell-your-coffee call to beneficiaries!

Is it not about time that we knew what was happening at NTI? Of course, it is not a professional survey; it was not intended to be one.

Yes, it is appropriate to have beneficiaries write Nunatsiaq News. They should have a say in their future. We are a free nation and do not live in a dictatorship.

The president’s response to the survey would have me believe that he would love for us to live in such an environment.

What happened to the Inuit way ­ a vote by consensus? What has the president and the board so paranoid by this little unprofessional survey?

Are they afraid of what the results may be, once beneficiaries do write in their responses?

Would it not be more interesting as a president to know how beneficiaries feel about the way their elected officials manage their organization?

This is one way of getting these results. They could be used to the benefit of NTI. This could be a start of how to better communicate with beneficiaries and also an excellent educational tool to teach beneficiaries about the roles and responsibilities of NTI.

Do not forget Jose, that you are an elected official and that you are accountable to the people that elected you. I am really ashamed that you would write such a response letter to the only newspaper that had balls enough to publish the survey. My hat goes off to them.

I thank you for making this survey into such a controversy that other beneficiaries will respond to. We can truly see what their reaction to your action is.

There will be no “statistical biases” factor, no tabulation, no analyzing, no political motivation, no legitimate research effort, no individual or organization’s hands, no calculations, no margin for error, no access to core data necessary, no collaboration with the newspaper. Just plain old-fashioned information for all the beneficiaries to read.

As a true democratic leader you should welcome this opportunity to answer the questions raised and use this as a positive communications tool to inform the people of Nunavut as to where their future lies. Instead, you have taken this survey as a threat, which was not the intention.

As for your threat to take this matter up with the Press Council, I give Nunatsiaq News my permission to have this survey released to the Canadian Press and any other news organization that will publish the survey, along with your response to it.

Do not forget that knowledge and information is power. Beneficiaries have a birthright to it, therefore, it is to be shared by everyone-as equals! Even this little insignificant survey.

I leave you with a dictionary definition of survey: a comprehensive view, a detailed examination of a problem or situation.

Name withheld by request

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