WSKG Code Of Ethics

Feb 24, 2016

WSKG Public Media

Our purposes are to support a strong civil society, increase cultural access and knowledge, extend public education, and strengthen community life through electronic media and related community activities. The public’s trust in our organizations, content, services, and relationships is fundamental to achieving these purposes.

We earn the public’s trust through the quality and excellence of our work, the inclusion and reflection of the diversity of our communities, and a commitment to defined professional standards and practices.

We take specific steps to ascertain and understand community needs, issues, and interests; to assure respect and civility in our forums and discussions and impartiality and objectivity in our coverage of complex and controversial matters; and to be accessible, accountable, and transparent to those who use our services and the community as a whole.

Our standards apply to all the content we produce and present, regardless of subject matter, including news, science, history, information and cultural content. They apply across all the channels and platforms we use – broadcasting, online, social media, print, and in-person events.

GOVERNANCE AND MANAGEMENT FOR THE COMMON GOOD

We govern our activities in ways that promote the common good and the public interest and that reflect our commitment to integrity and trustworthiness. These obligations supersede personal and institutional agendas.

IDEAS, CULTURE AND FORUMS WITH RESPECT AND CIVILITY

We contribute to the civic, educational, and cultural life of our communities by presenting a range of ideas and cultures and offering a robust forum for discussion and debate.

JOURNALISM THAT REPORTS EVENTS AND ISSUES WITH ACCURACY AND INTEGRITY

We pursue facts about events and issues in our communities and other important matters that affect people’s lives with accuracy and integrity.

INCLUSION AND REFLECTION OF OUR COMMUNITIES’ DIVERSITY

The integrity of our work is strengthened by incorporating the diversity of demography, culture, and beliefs in our communities and the nation into our work and our content.

TRANSPARENCY IN PROGRAM SELECTION AND CONTENT CREATION

We share with our audiences and the public the mission-based and practical reasons for our program choices. We seek to be transparent in how we gather and report news and create other content.  We protect intellectual property rights and are generous with attribution.

TRANSPARENCY IN FUNDRAISING

We aim for respectful relationships with our donors and clear understanding among donors and others about our fundraising operations. We exercise care in seeking and accepting funds, setting careful boundaries between contributors and content creators.  We acknowledge the sponsors of our programming and disclose the terms on which we obtain such support.

PREVENTING UNDUE INFLUENCE

We assure that our editorial process is free from undue influence. We take care in deciding from whom we seek and accept funds and in setting boundaries with respect to those who contribute.

CONSISTENT EDITORIAL STANDARDS IN PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATIONS

We bring our standards into editorial partnerships and collaborations through which we expand our capacity to serve, add to the perspectives we share with our audiences, and enhance the timeliness and relevance of our work.

EMPLOYEE ACTIVITIES BEYOND THEIR PUBLIC MEDIA WORK

We expect our employees to operate openly, with full accountability to the public. The actions of our employees, even when “off the clock,” affect public trust in our integrity, credibility, and impartiality. We expect employees to uphold our integrity in their personal as well as their professional lives.

Additional Guidance for WSKG Journalists

Journalists have many ethical standards essential and unique to their profession, but those standards may also guide WSKG’s other content creators.  Ethical decision-making should occur at every step of the journalistic process, including story selection, newsgathering, editing, production, presentation and delivery.  Practitioners of ethical journalism seek diverse and even opposing opinions in order to reach better conclusions that can be clearly explained and effectively defended or, when appropriate, revisited and revised.

WSKG Journalists:

·       Strive for truth and accuracy above all.

·       Report more than remarks, claims or comments.

·       Verify facts, provide relevant context, connect the dots, tell the rest of the story and acknowledge the absence of important additional information.

·       Update stories and amend archival versions to make them more accurate as new information becomes available.

·       Shall not use deception in newsgathering, including surreptitious recording.

·       Challenge assumptions; reject stereotypes, and illuminate – even where it cannot eliminate – ignorance.

·       Resist false dichotomies – either/or, always/never, black/white thinking – and consider a range of alternatives between the extremes.

·       Shall not make commercial endorsements of any kind.

·       Refrain from political activity and active advocacy that can undercut the real or perceived independence of their journalism. Journalists do not give up the rights of citizenship, but their public exercise of those rights can call into question their impartiality, which can then detract from their value as a WSKG employee.

·       Consider the consequences of both the newsgathering – even if the information is never made public – and of the material’s potential dissemination.

·       Balance concerns, such as the protection of vulnerable people and the protection of a person’s right to a fair trial, against the importance or urgency of reporting.

·       Seek editorial partnerships and collaborations to enhance capacity, perspective, timeliness, diversity, and relevance, and applies public media standards to these arrangements.

Responsibilities of the Board of Trustees

·       Establish and enforce the WSKG Public Media’s Code of Conduct, which serves the public interest, convenience and necessity.

·       Delegate to the President/CEO the authority to manage the organization and its programming, and review that management.

·       Demand the highest journalistic standards of fairness and accuracy in all news and information programming.

·       Share the opinions of our audiences, and encourage all citizens to express their views about programming to the board, President and staff.

Responsibilities of WSKG’S Community Advisory Boards

The Federal Communications Commission and the Board of Trustees at WSKG Public Media have established community advisory boards, which are broadly representative of the communities served by WSKG. A community advisory board member shall:

·       Review the services and programming provided by WSKG, provide constructive criticism and recommendations to the Board of Trustees.

·       Advocate for, and inform their communities about, the value of public service media and its contribution to community life.

Accountability for consequences

Public Broadcasting accepts full responsibility for its content, articulates its reasons and opens its processes to public scrutiny.

Our obligation is to pursue truth and share it with the public. Shying away from difficult cases is not necessarily more ethical than taking on the challenge of broadcasting them. Avoiding tough or sensitive content can be a disservice to the public.

The content generated by WSKG Public Media can inconvenience, discomfort and even distress. The privacy of certain stakeholders deserves special consideration; they include children, victims, vulnerable adults and others inexperienced with American media. These factors should be considered in every editorial and ethical decision.

All WSKG staff and volunteers are held to the standards articulated in this document.

Inspired by the codes of ethics created in 2015 by Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and by Public Media Code of Editorial Integrity, created by Editorial Integrity for Public Media, a joint initiative of the public broadcasting Affinity Group Coalition and the Station Resource Group.

Approved and adopted by the WSKG Board of Trustees February 23, 2016.