Editorial Partnerships

Things to Consider:

Changes in U.S. population dynamics present a wider diversity of perspectives and attitudes in our communities.

Challenges:

  1. New collaborators may stretch our thinking with overt points of view and advocacy positions on public issues. What constitutes editorial fairness, accuracy and transparency?
  2. Avoiding relationships because of fear of association denies the opportunity to reflect a broader range of community views and risks the appearance of station elitism.
  3. Balancing multiple considerations is difficult for station managers already facing pressures from public and private funding sources related to editorial and coverage issues.

Opportunity:

  1. Changing demographics present an opportunity to reflect the communities we serve better, and deliver content that is more relevant.

Recommended Response Strategies:

  1. Build relationships that deepen station leadership’s knowledge of the community gaining good will to support station projects.
  2. Understand the motivation and goals of potential collaborators articulating to them station values, needs and expectations.
  3. Learn to distinguish core values and practices from differences in style or tone.
  4. Diversify the range of community perspectives the station represents over time.
  5. Accept that everybody has a point of view and a stake in something.
  6. Protect editorial independence through program framing, language and disclaimers, if needed, to avoid owning a collaborator’s biases.
  7. Develop affirmative strategies to build balanced coalitions that take up community issues with clearly established roles, rules and outcomes.

Evolving technology continues to disaggregate content delivery, dissolving lines between delivery platforms, and changing expectations about participation and collaboration.

Challenges:

  1. As more people access IP-delivered content from a variety of media platforms, the line between platforms is not just blurring, it is completely dissolving.
  2. As social media tools evolve, they will also become more pervasive and integral to the public dialogue.
  3. Digital disruption means content is portable.
  4. As more stations engage their communities through a variety of platforms, organizational identity is more vulnerable to the words and actions of individual employees, as well as those of partner organizations and their employees.

Opportunity:

New technologies and platforms widen public broadcasting’s reach, deepen value added relationships, invite new voices into the conversation, and strengthen civic life.

Recommended Response Strategies

  1. Proactively adhere to editorial standards whenever collaborating with external entities.
  2. Leverage social media as tools for building relationships and for public dialogue more than just promoting content.
  3. Develop social media guidelines for staff and ensure partner organizations have done the same.

New public expectations are changing journalism’s role in society and what constitutes news, objectivity, standards, and credibility.

Challenges:

  1. Old definitions of news, analysis and opinion are disappearing. Public perceptions of what constitutes “news” have changed dramatically.
  2. There are generational and societal differences in views about objectivity in news. Boomers tend to equate the idea of objectivity with credibility. Millennials, however, tend to believe everyone has a bias and they want to know what yours is.

Opportunity:

Reestablish public broadcasting’s position in local communities as a trusted information source, convener, and collaborator with high standards for editorial integrity.

Recommended Response Strategies

  1. Establish a defined sense of the station’s editorial role in the community beyond distributing content.
  2. Identify and elevate the standards and practices that are core to public broadcasting’s mission.
  3. Review content definitions (news, analysis, opinion, etc.) and how to explain these definitions to a wide range of audiences.
  4. Review and explain relational and editorial boundaries for the partnership activities your station is interested to pursue.
  5. Develop an exit strategy for concluding the relationship if partners are in anyway compromising mutually agreed standards or practices.