Earlier this month, the Reynolds Center hosted a workshop on finding and following the money at the Canadian Association of Journalists 2015 conference.
Christopher Waddell, associate professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University in Ottawa, gave specific tips on covering businesses and corporations in Canada.
Here are six highlights from Waddell’s presentation that will help you understand how money flows in Canada:
- Industry Canada is a great resource when looking for information about who is in charge of a company and where it’s located. In Canada, nearly all incorporated companies have to file reports annually at the federal or provincial level. Filings by federal Canadian companies can be found at Industry Canada and filings for provincial private companies are held at the provincial ministries (similar to public bureaus in the U.S.). This resource lets you know who would be best to contact for a story, and displays the company’s phone number and address so you know where to start when beginning a story.
- Sedar.com stores the financial information for every publicly traded Canadian company. Current and historic data on quarterly reports, which are unaudited, along with audited annual reports, can be found on the site. The site’s easy search function will enable you to find any public Canadian firm or investment fund and their securities documents. A company’s financial reports allows you to determine how well the company is performing in the market. You can investigate its numbers and ask the right questions as to why they’ve performed in a certain way. The numbers can always lead to questions as to why the company is performing a certain way.
- Management information circular: This document reveals information about a company’s annual meeting and is released to coincide with the company’s annual report. You may find details in the circular that can lead to future stories or help provide more background or context to current stories. The circular contains end-of-year financial data, board recommendations, board pay, number of shares board members hold and compensation information for the top five management positions. The circular can provide plenty of background information as well as insight into the company. New story ideas, and insight into how the company operates can be found here.
- Financial Post’s Directory of Directors is published every fall as a list of executive officers and board directors of every Canadian private and publicly traded company. You can search any director’s name and find out which boards they serve on. This lets you connect the dots when finding out who works with who and gives you an idea of the business community and how it works together.
- Corporate databases can help you find information on any type of company. Bloomberg, Factiva, Mergent Online and FP Advisor compile long-term financial data to help identify trends. These resources house analyst information as well as government filings. These databases usually have fees associated with them so be sure to shop around and find which one works best with you.
- Stock regulators in Canada: Two groups regulate Canadian stock markets and businesses. The Toronto Stock Exchange regulates financial information releases for Canadian businesses. It houses market research, company directories and stock screeners. The Ontario Securities Commission regulates the people and companies who trade shares. The site holds information on legislation, court filings and rulings. If a U.S. company is part of your beat, you’ll also need to check the Securities and Exchange Commission (the United States’ version of the Ontario Securities Commission). Regulators combat shady dealings and insider trading.