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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

Ten hot ethical challenges facing political reporting in 2012

September 28, 2012 in Blog, Craft

Gregory Korte

USA Today reporter Gregory Korte tells the crowd at the 2012 Poynter Kent State Media Ethics Workshop why he sometimes agrees to quote approval. Credit: Kent State University

Journalism Accelerator

“The values of journalism are under pressure.” With that remark, Kelly McBride of The Poynter Institute set the stage for “Dirty Politics,” the 2012 ethics workshop at Kent State University.

Here are ten hot ethical challenges in political coverage that emerged from the workshop. Join in the series of online conversations exploring ways to handle them. Bring your questions! Bring your experience! Help uncover ethical issues in political coverage that require clarity to provide the accurate reporting people deserve to inform their vote. Read the rest of this entry →

Kent State Media Law Center for Ethics and Access

August 24, 2012 in Craft, Resources

The Media Law Center for Ethics and Access, originally named the Center for Privacy and the First Amendment, offers workshops and seminars in media ethics and access to government information. It provides advice and counsel for anyone — journalists, government officials or members of the public — with questions about ethics or access or related media law concerns. The Center was founded in 1991 to provide information and research on accessing government records and meetings. It was expanded in 2007 to include ethics training and to address issues of access and ethics in online journalism.” Source: Kent State University Media Law Center for Ethics and Access

Each September, the Poynter Institute and the Media Law Center for Ethics and Access at Kent State University host an annual ethics workshop. Topics and discussions are relevant to current trends in the media and journalism education. Presenters and panelists from varying backgrounds provide information and opinions based on personal industry experience.” Source: Kent State University Media Law Center for Ethics and Access

Rules of the Road: Navigating the New Ethics of Local Journalism

August 16, 2012 in Community, Craft, Resources

With journalism entrepreneurs launching local news startups at a rapid pace, the local news landscape is evolving ­– and so are the rules of the road guiding ethical decisions.

Where a bright ethical line once separated a newsroom from its business operations, one person now often wears multiple hats, as editor, business manager and grants writer. Site publishers navigate new kinds of critical decisions daily. This guide examines a number of them. You can click to any topic in any order. Or, you can cruise through the Table of Contents.

On every page you’ll find a box that says, “Share your story.” We invite you to weigh in with an ethical problem you faced – and your solution.  Your participation will help inform a work in progress.” Source: J-Lab

Fifteen site operators and one digital ethicist candidly discuss dilemmas they’ve confronted and the solutions they’ve reached. The good news, [J-Lab Executive Director Jan] Schaffer said, is that the internal compasses of community news site founders are working well. Indeed, many actually draw more stringent rules for behavior than traditional news organizations do.

“We’ve seen how entrepreneurial news startups are trying to responsibly fill gaps in investigative journalism. With this publication, we see how local news startups are meeting new challenges of covering community news,” said Bob Ross, president and CEO of Ethics and Excellence Journalism Foundation.” Source: J-Lab

On The Media

January 27, 2012 in Community, Craft, Education, Policy, Resources

While maintaining the civility and fairness that are the hallmarks of public radio, OTM tackles sticky issues with a frankness and transparency that has built trust with listeners and led to more than a tripling of its audience in five years.

Since OTM was re-launched in 2001, it has been one of NPR’s fastest growing programs, heard on more than 300 public radio stations. It has won Edward R. Murrow Awards for feature reporting and investigative reporting, the National Press Club’s Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism and a Peabody Award for its body of work.” Source: On The Media

 

“On the Media is our effort to function as the outsider’s insider. In other words, all of us who work on the show are journalists. But I guess there is something in our collective natures that makes us feel somewhat outside the process, despite the years we may have spent within it.

So we hope that we can demystify the process…

It’s always interesting to cover your own business, but the beat lacks something that is really, really important for reporters like me who like narrative. There’s no story. What you are reporting on are trends, policies, perceptions, and studies. Where are the people? Where is the blood? What are the stakes?

Well there ARE stakes and that is something that we try to focus on a lot, what the stakes are – the continued health of an honest and independent press.” Source: Gothamist

The Poynter Institute

January 12, 2012 in Craft, Education, Resources

Poynter is a school that exists to ensure that our communities have access to excellent journalism—the kind of journalism that enables us to participate fully and effectively in our democracy.

What we do

To that end, we teach those who manage, edit, produce, program, report, write, blog, photograph and design, whether they belong to news organizations or work as independent entrepreneurs. We teach those who teach, as well as students in middle school, high school and college—the journalists of tomorrow. And we teach members of the public, helping them better understand how journalism is produced and how to tell for themselves whether it’s credible.

  • We teach in seminar rooms on our main campus in St. Petersburg.
  • We teach in newsrooms all over the world.
  • We teach online, allowing those in search of training to choose from hundreds of self-directed courses, online group seminars, Webinars, online chats, podcasts and video tutorials.

We teach management, ethical decision-making and the power of diversity; we teach editing, writing, reporting and new media skills; we teach those in broadcast, print and the Web; we teach those trying to remake their organizations and those trying to remake their journalistic skills set.” Source: The Poynter Institute

Investigative Reporters and Editors

December 16, 2011 in Community, Education, Resources, Technology

Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. IRE was formed in 1975 to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, news gathering techniques and news sources. IRE provides members access to thousands of reporting tip sheets and other materials through its resource center and hosts conferences and specialized training throughout the country.” Source: Investigative Reporters and Editors

IRE’s programs and projects

National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting

“Founded in 1989, NICAR has trained thousands of journalists in the practical skills of finding, prying loose and analyzing electronic information.

NICAR also maintains a library of databases containing government data on a wide array of subjects, including airplane service difficulty reports, storm events, FBI crime data, fatal highway accidents, problems with medical devices and federal contracts awarded to private companies. This is just a short list of the more than 40 datasets in the collection.” Source: IRE

 

CensusIRE

“[IRE’s] ongoing Census project [is] designed to provide journalists with a simpler way to access 2010 Census data so they can spend less time importing and managing the data and more time exploring and reporting the data. The project is the result of work by journalists from the The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, USA Today, CNN, the Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.) and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, funded through generous support from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism.” Source: CensusIRE

 

DocumentCloud

“DocumentCloud is a project that uses collaborative methods to host and organize primary-source documents … The project is a software system, website, and set of open standards intended as a tool for investigative reporting, and only news organizations, bloggers and watchdog groups can upload documents there. Its 200-plus contributors include many news organizations as well as other groups such as the ACLU, National Security Archive and Sunlight Foundation. DocumentCloud’s software, however, is open-source, and anyone can view the documents … DocumentCloud’s technology has been used on the websites of such news organizations as PBS, ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune to allow readers to search annotated copies of source documents.” Source: Encyclo

“DocumentCloud was founded in 2009 with a grant from the Knight News Challenge. After two years as an independent nonprofit organization, DocumentCloud became a project of Investigative Reporters and Editors in June of 2011.” Source: DocumentCloud

 

Washington News Council

April 14, 2011 in Craft, Experiments, Resources, Technology

WNC describes itself as “an independent, nonprofit, statewide organization whose members share a common belief that fair, accurate and balanced news media are vital to our democracy.” It was founded in 1998. John Hamer, its president and executive director, has been at the helm since its inception. He is a former associate editorial-page editor at the Seattle Times and previously associate editor with Congressional Quarterly/Editorial Research reports in Washington, D.C.

The WNC’s early emphasis was on vetting complaints against media organizations concerning inaccurate or unfair stories, along the model of the now-defunct Minnesota News Council. In recent years it has developed a broad range of projects to emphasize quality, integrity and public engagement with journalism through an interactive website with online community discussion, an active blog, a live Twitter feed and Facebook/LinkedIn pages.

The WNC funds journalism scholarships through donations and some proceeds from an annual Gridiron West Dinner.

In January 2011, it announced successfully matching a Gates Foundation challenge grant of $100,000.  The WNC was named organization of the year by the Municipal League of King County.

Among the News Council’s projects in the Online Media Guide, which has a database of more than 800 websites.

Another WNC project is the TAO of Journalism pledge and seal, a means to encourage news outlets, bloggers, hyperlocal news sites, freelancers, newsletters and civic groups. to emphasize Transparency, Accountability and Openness.

InvestigateWest

April 13, 2011 in Community, Craft, Experiments, Resources

InvestigateWest says it “rose from the ashes of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer” but prides itself on not being “limited by those roots.” Founded in July 2009, it is a nonprofit organization dedicated to investigative and narrative journalism whose mission statement says, in part:

The old model for supporting and conducting public service journalism has collapsed. Thousands of traditional journalism jobs have simply vanished in this region, and along with them the opportunity for the kind of in-depth, investigative reporting and memorable storytelling that keeps citizens engaged and informed about changes shaping their lives.

InvestigateWest continues the reporting essential to democracy. Our passion for investigative journalism is paired with the ambition to find and connect with new audiences using the new tools of the digital revolution now available to journalists. Investigative reporting and storytelling takes time, resources and talent that many traditional news outlets can no longer afford.

InvestigateWest was started by a group of accomplished journalists with a track record of producing investigative stories and, with them, change in public policy and corporate practice. Our mission is to cut across the old media borders to reach and engage audiences by new and powerful means. We harness the synergies of the printed word with the evocative power of photography, video and audio to produce reports used and distributed by a wide variety of news organizations, whether online, print, television or radio.

InvestigateWest is led by executive director and editor Rita Hibbard, formerly an assistant managing editor and investigative editor at the P-I. It got a $100,000 grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation in February 2010 and another in February 2011. Other funders include the Brainerd Foundation, the Bullitt Foundation, the Russell Family Foundation and the Fund for Investigative Journalism. It also solicits finds from the public.

More than 20 national and regional media partners, including MSNBC.com, AOLNews.com, The Seattle Timesseattlepi.com and The Oregonian, have distributed its work.

The Columbia Journalism Review published a first anniversary review of InvestigateWest, which it called “new pioneers of the west.”