KQED, San Francisco

About Us


Editorial Integrity for Public Media was developed as a collaboration of the Station Resource Group, an alliance of leading public radio stations focused on strategy, policy, and operational innovation, and the Affinity Group Coalition, which is made up of representatives from seven membership organizations of public television stations. The National Educational Telecommunications Association, NETA has provided organizational support.

The project has been guided from the outset by leaders of local public media organizations across the country – top public radio and television executives, program decision-makers and senior journalists.

Contact Us


Tom Thomas 
Co-CEO
Station Resource Group
E: tthomas@srg.org
Byron Knight
Emeritus Director
Wisconsin Public Broadcasting
E: Byron.Knight@uwex.edu

History of the Project


St. Louis Public Radio

The Editorial Integrity Project

The Code of Editorial Integrity was created through a station-led effort. Public television’s Affinity Group Coalition (AGC), which knits together seven organizations that serve public television licensees, formed the initial idea of renewing core principles of editorial integrity for the field. They quickly concluded that a joint television and radio effort was most appropriate and enlisted public radio’s Station Resource Group (SRG) as a partner in the project.

In mid-2008 AGC and SRG formed a 20-member Steering Committee of station leaders, chaired by WPSU’s Ted Krichels, to define and guide the project. Byron Knight, Emeritus Director of Wisconsin Public Broadcasting and Tom Thomas, SRG’s co-CEO, agreed to serve as project directors. The National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) offered to provide organizational support. In early 2010 the Corporation for Public Broadcasting provided the financial support needed to launch.

A starting point for the project was the 1985 Statement of Principles of Editorial Integrity, developed by station leaders meeting at the Wingspread conference center. The Wingspread Statement spoke to relationships among boards, staff and community at a time when the independence and integrity of the still-young public broadcasting system was in some jeopardy.

It was quickly apparent that our 21st century public media enterprise needs a framework for editorial integrity that speaks to evolving roles and expectations, including a greater scale and stature for our organizations, a stronger role in journalism for many of us, new technologies and platforms that introduce new questions to the editorial mix, and shifting notions of accountability and transparency that befit today’s always-on, searchable, findable information environment.

Framing and Vetting Issues

KERA, Dallas

Steering Committee members identified, discussed, and ranked several dozen issues for consideration. We eventually tackled six major issue areas, forming a working group for each. These groups included six to nine volunteer participants with experience and expertise in the subject area, led by a facilitator/writer commissioned through the project. The working groups prepared reports of their findings and recommendations, all of which are available on the project web site pmintegrity.org.

As the reports were being developed, we took advantage of industry meetings to share and discuss emerging work with public media professionals in presentations, workshops, and brainstorming sessions.

Meanwhile, we explored the efforts of other organizations. This included reviewing the codes and guidelines of national public broadcasting networks here and abroad, collecting examples of existing station policies and guidelines, and studying professional standards developed by organizations such as the Society of Professional Journalists, the Association of Fund Raising Professionals, and several state associations of nonprofit organizations.

We also invited outside experts to review our work. Byron Knight enlisted the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Journalism and his colleagues at Wisconsin Public Broadcasting to co-host an Editorial Integrity Roundtable that brought together leading academics and practitioners to evaluate key working group reports.

 

 

Drafting and Adopting a Code

Drawing on the now-substantial body of work created by the Editorial Integrity Project, we began drafting a Code of Editorial Integrity. We aimed for several goals.

  • The Code needs to assert our special roles and privileges and to clarify the responsibilities that go with them. It should be both motivating and disciplined.
  • The Code needs to be aspirational, pushing us to do our best. But it also needs to be within reach of our organizations, something to which we can realistically commit ourselves.
  • The Code needs to be flexible enough to reflect the diversity of circumstances and focus of the hundreds of local public media organizations across the country. It needs to be specific enough to offer meaningful guidance.

Tom Thomas and SRG co-CEO Terry Clifford took up principal drafting responsibility. Initial drafts received detailed critiques, principally from members of the project Steering Committee, with a final version receiving unanimous approval at the end of January. The Code has since received unanimous endorsement from both the Affinity Group Coalition and the Station Resource Group board of directors.

Aligning with the Networks

We have worked to assure alignment between our work and separate ethics reviews at PBS and NPR.

PBS updated its Editorial Standards in mid-2011. The PBS statement underscores the importance of strong local standards to complement policies at the national level:

each station is ultimately responsible for assuring an appropriate balance of subjects and viewpoints across its broadcast schedule and for complying with all applicable federal statutes and regulations . . . final responsibility for the quality and integrity of its broadcast services rests with each individual station.

NPR has conducted an extensive review and updating of its Code of Ethics. Our project and NPR have been keeping track of what the other is doing for months. All involved see broad alignment between the two efforts, but also a somewhat different focus to each: the Editorial Integrity Project is addressing local organizations, a wide range of content, and integrity issues that touch upon organizations as a whole. The NPR effort centers on its own news and organization.

A Call for Station Action

We have attached a list of the many public media leaders and friends of our field who have contributed to the Editorial Integrity Project. We are proud of their work and grateful for their service.

We know, however, that the Code takes on genuine meaning through thoughtful, voluntary consideration and embrace by individual local public media organizations, followed by periodic review of success in its application.

That is what we are asking you to set in motion now.

– Byron Knight and Tom Thomas
Directors, Editorial Integrity Project

Contributers


Project Co-Directors
Tom Thomas
Station Resource Group

Byron Knight
University of Wisconsin

Aufderheide, Pat
American University

Bates, Rod
Nebraska ETV

Bauhof, Mike
Nine Network, St. Louis

Craig Beeby
University Station Alliance

Bowles, Cephas *
WBGO-FM Newark

Brett, Malcolm
Wisconsin Public Broadcasting

Bromberg, Ellis
Milwaukee Public Television

Cappello, Dean
New York Public Radio

Christians, Clifford
University of Illinois

Clark, Jessica
American University

Clifford, Terry
Station Resource Group

Coates-Madsen, Amy
Maryland Non-Profits

Culver, Katy
University of Wisconsin

Derheim, Don
KQED San Francisco

Doebler, Melanie
WPSU Penn State

Edmonds, Rick
Poynter Institute

Edwards, Dave
Milwaukee Public Radio

Eichten, Doug
DEI

Eisele, Sally
Chicago Public Radio

Eldredge, Ted
WLRN-FM Miami

Emmons, Tim *
WNIU DeKalb

Ericson, Jeannie
Integrated Media Association

Erstling, Mark
CPB

Feingold, David
Nebraska ETV

Ferro, Jennifer
KCRW-FM Santa Monica

Fleming, Sam
WBUR-FM Boston

Cara Fry
WITF Harrisburg

Galmiche, Jack
Nine Network, St. Louis

Garcia, Yolette
Southern Methodist University

Gillette, Walt
WAMU-FM Washington DC

Hall, Andrew
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Hamilton, DeAnne
WESA-FM Pittsburgh

Hanley Bill
Twin Cities Public Television

Hinton, Skip
NETA

Holm, Morgan
Oregon Public Broadcasting

Hope, Quentin
Great Plains Strategy

Iverson, Dave
Independent Producer

Jones, Jacquie
National Black Programming Consortium

Kaplan, Joel
Syracuse University

Kobin, Bill
Major Market Group

Krichels, Ted
CPB

Levy, Michael
CPB

Magura, Becky
WCTE-TV Cookeville TN

Marcotte, Michael
MVM Consulting

Masters-Wolfe, Jenny
Twin Cities Public Television

Meyer, Charles
National Center for Media Engagement

Miskowski, Jon
Wisconsin Public Television

Mitchell, Jack
University of Wisconsin

Ott, Tanya
WBHM-FM Birmingham

Ozier, Lance
WGBH Boston

Pavelko, Kathleen
WITF Harrisburg

Ramirez, Raul *
KQED San Francisco

Ramos, Henry A.J.
Mauer Kunst Consulting

Rieland, Tom
WOSU Columbus

Rivera, Silvia
Volcalo, Chicago Public Radio

Rivero, Marita
WGBH Boston

Rowland, Wick
KBDI-TV Denver

Amy Shaw
Nine Network St. Louis

Brian  Sickora
WSKG Binghamton

Steinbach, James
Wisconsin Public Television

Swanberg, Wendy
University of Wisconsin

Tardif, Amy
WGCU-FM Fort Myers

Theriault, Bruce
CPB

Van Hoesen, John
Vermont Public Radio

Venderwilt, Stewart
KUT-FM Austin

Walker, Connie
WUNC-FM Chapel Hill

Ward, Stephen
University of Wisconsin

Wareham, Jerry
Ideastream Cleveland

Weatherly, Allen *
Arkansas Education Television Network

White, Tom
CPB

Wilkins, Lee
University of Missouri

Worthington, Chris
Minnesota Public Radio

Organizational affiliations are as of the time of participation in the project.
* = deceased.
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