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Guidelines for Balancing Business Pressures and Journalism Values

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Source: RTNDA

The following standards should be applied to content-related decisions on air and online:

  • News operations should not show favoritism to advertisers. It should be clear to all advertisers that they have no influence over news content.
  • Professional electronic journalists should expose unethical or illegal business practices, but should not target businesses unfairly.
  • Content should be generated based on journalistic merits and not solely as an advertising vehicle.
  • The most important professional responsibility of an electronic journalist is to report the news. Everything else comes second.
  • News directors should carefully consider instances when ratings and demographics drive coverage decisions and ensure that news coverage remains journalistically sound and serves the public interest.
  • News organizations should protect the integrity of coverage against any potential conflict of interest arising from station owners’ commercial or other interests.
  • Coverage of a promotional or commercial event that an advertiser or station sponsors should be proportional to the event’s newsworthiness.
  • Stations or networks should foster a high degree of communication, collaboration, respect and trust among station leaders and staff members. Business-side managers should be encouraged to understand that journalistic independence and credibility are among the station’s most precious commodities.
  • News directors should insist that newsroom employees do not accept gifts, favors or other compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.
  • A news operation’s online product should clearly separate commercial and editorial content and maintain the same high journalistic and ethical standards as the on-air product.
  • Professional electronic journalists should tell their audiences why and how they made decisions, especially if the public might perceive that journalistic independence has been compromised.
  • See more at: http://www.rtdna.org/content/coverage_guidelines/

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Travis Cross Artist and Entrepreneur. Founder of not.tv

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