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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

An interview with Mike Fancher, author of “Re-Imagining Journalism: Local News for a Networked World”

September 13, 2011 in Blog, Craft, Policy, Revenue

Across the field of journalism we’ve had an “information infusion” from a broad range of sources over the summer. Analysis, review and reporting from the likes of PEW, Knight, the Economist, Clay Shirky, the FCC’s recent 450+ page report furthering the analysis Knight Foundation started two years ago, and CJR’s recent write up “What We Know so Far.” The Chicago Community Trust has released a mother lode of data revealing new insights on the power of linking. The list outlined above is far from exhaustive but a good representation of the depth, breadth and focus on the unfolding of a “news industry interrupted” by some of the brightest minds today.

There is a general consensus that we’re bearing witness to a long-standing community of practice “reimagining” itself, a phrase Mike Fancher refers to in his new report, Local News for a Networked World. Posted  in July, this paper was co-commissioned by the Aspen Institute and the Knight Foundation. As a veteran newsman and community advocate, Fancher brings a unique perspective to this work with a long run as executive editor of one of the finest city paper newsrooms in the nation, The Seattle Times. Noting his career as an editor unfolded in a far less turbulent time in the business lifecycle of news and reporting Fancher retired from the Times in 2008.

The combination of professional experiences Fancher has accrued over the course of his career has expanded further since his retirement. In 2008-2009 he served as a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri focusing his study there on journalism ethics evolution in the digital age. Prior to returning to the academy as a fellow, while serving as a city paper editor, Fancher completed his master’s degree in business to better understand news, journalism and the marketplace it lives within, in context. Read the rest of this entry →

Re-Imagining Journalism: Local News for a Networked World

August 31, 2011 in Craft, Education, Experiments, Policy, Resources

Re-Imagining Journalism: Local News for a Networked World, a new policy paper by Michael R. Fancher, identifies five strategic areas and specific ideas for promoting experimentation, collaboration and public engagement that are critical for reforming local journalism. The paper calls upon a variety of stakeholders in business, the nonprofit sector, government and community institutions, and citizens themselves to each play a role in nurturing a revitalized and re-imagined local media ecosystem.

The five key strategies for re-inventing local journalism include:

  1. For-profit media organizations must re-invent themselves to extend the role and values of journalism in interactive ways.
  2. Not-for-profit and non-traditional media must be important sources of local journalism.
  3. Higher education, community and non-profit institutions can be hubs of journalistic activity and other information-sharing for local communities.
  4. Greater urgency must be placed on relevance, research and revenues to support local journalism.
  5. Government at all levels should support policies that create an environment for sustainable, quality local journalism.

In particular, Fancher calls on leaders of local print and broadcast media to spearhead the creation of regional and local collaborative news networks that meet the information needs of their communities. These interactive news networks are part of a broader set of strategies for re-inventing local journalism that are aimed at addressing the need for media policies that foster innovation, competition and support for business models that provide marketplace incentives for quality journalism and envision new roles for universities and community institutions as hubs of journalistic activity.” SourceKnight Foundation