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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