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Editorial Integrity for Public Media: Principles, Policies, & Practices

November 21, 2012 in Policy, Resources

Trust is perhaps the most important asset public broadcasting carries forward into its evolving public media future. Audiences rely on our information and perspectives as they make decisions in their public and personal lives. The public tells pollsters that public television and radio news is their most trusted source among many mass media choices.

We have built that trust by rigorous attention to editorial integrity — how we govern our organizations, raise funds for our programming, and produce our daily work. Nationally and locally, public broadcasters have crafted enduring principles, policies and practices to protect and advance our trust and integrity. These crucial guideposts are now tested by powerful and exciting changes in our field.

  • The unfolding technologies of the digital era are transforming how content is created and distributed and reshaping the ways in which public broadcasters engage their communities — and vice versa.
  • Stations increasingly complement traditional television and radio broadcasting with a portfolio strategy of online, wireless and mobile services. This leads to wider availability of public media, but often places content in a context not directly controlled by those who created it.
  • Stations are re-framing their community roles through new forms of partnership, collaboration, and civic engagement and participation. These partnerships create new opportunities for multiple voices, contributions, and ideas from new sources, but present challenges with respect to shared editorial standards and the public’s expectations for balance and independence.
  • Further, public broadcasters are encountering evolving expectations from donors, corporate sponsors, philanthropy and other stakeholders — and higher expectations and standards for transparency and accountability.
  • Stations and their staffs need a more refined set of guidelines that will inform their decision-making and ensure a continuity of values, trust, and organizational clarity in this new environment. It is time for a vigorous review of our editorial standards to assure ourselves and our audiences that our new services will carry forward the trust and integrity that we have accrued over time.”

Source: Public Media Integrity

In this political environment there’s a lot being thrown around about integrity, bias, and ‘just who are these public broadcasting guys, anyway?’” said Tom Thomas of the Station Resource Group, co-director of the editorial initiative. “We should be able to say, here’s how we do our work, here’s the way in which we make decisions, here’s what money we take or not, here’s how we balance funding and content.” …

Byron Knight, emeritus director of Wisconsin Public Broadcasting, is the project’s co-director. Knight said use of ethics policies at the station level varies widely across the system. … The steering committee “is not trying to write the Ten Commandments of how to do these things,” Knight said. “These will be suggestions to stations for things to think about as they create their own mission statements, position themselves in their communities, define themselves, create productions and look for funding. We’re not saying, ‘You must do this.’ We’re saying, ‘This could help you stay out of situations you may not want to be in.’” Source: Current.org

Public Insight Network

September 16, 2011 in Community, Craft, Experiments, Resources

The Public Insight Network (PIN) is a powerful database of over 85,000 people who help to shape and deepen local and national public radio news coverage by volunteering their personal knowledge, experience, and opinions. Members of the network provide basic information about themselves and their areas of expertise, and receive periodic emails from their local newsroom soliciting their thoughts on issues that the station plans to cover. As Public Insight Network editor Andrew Haeg explains, reporter working on a series or piece on healthcare, could reach out into the network and find nurses and patients and doctors and administrators, sifting through responses to “see what themes and patterns emerge.”

The concept of Public Insight Journalism, with the PIN as its centerpiece, was originally pioneered by Minnesota Public Radio in response to what Haeg describes as “a big disconnect between what was going on in the newsroom — the decisions we were making, our editorial meetings — and what was going on out there in the community.” The PIN was designed to bridge that divide, pioneering what the Public Insight Journalism website describes as, “a new model of journalism to meet the needs of today’s open-source society…built on genuine partnership between news media and the public.”

This network-driven structure moves beyond what Haeg calls “Rolodex journalism” — relying on a small and trusted group of sources for news tips and suggestions for coverage. “We all know that people out there in the community have a much better feel for what’s actually going on on-the-ground,” he says, “and if you can include them in the conversation, you’re going to be much better off.”

This method of engaging the community in the process of newsgathering has steadily gained traction in public radio newsrooms since its launch in 2003, and has spread beyond Minnesota Public Radio and its parent organization, American Public Media, to local stations nationwide.” SourceCenter for Social Media