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JPR Foundation Journalistic Code of Ethics & Practices
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JPR Foundation Journalistic Code of Ethics & Practices

JPR Foundation Journalistic Code of Ethics & Practices

I. Statement of purpose

News and public affairs programming often tests and questions the credibility of others.  Therefore, all of our employees who create such programming must also stand that test.

The purpose of having a code of ethics and practices is to protect the credibility of the JPR Foundation by ensuring high standards of honesty, integrity, impartiality and conduct. This is accomplished by (a) articulating the ethical standards observed in pursuing and presenting stories, (b) setting rules and policies that prevent conflicts of interest, (c) establishing guidelines for outside work and activities that may reflect on the JPR Foundation, and (d) establishing policies and procedures to ensure that the activities of the JPR Foundation that fall outside journalism – business underwriting, foundation funding, marketing and promotional activities – do not jeopardize journalistic independence or involve reporters, editors, hosts or producers who are employed by the JPR Foundation in activities inappropriate to their role as journalists/hosts.

II. Who and what is covered

This code covers all JPR Foundation journalists, defined as employees who report, edit or produce news and public affairs/information programming either directly for the JPR Foundation or as loaned by the JPR Foundation to Jefferson Public Radio.  It also covers all personnel responsible for managing and or supervising JPR Foundation  journalists. 

The code also applies to material provided to, and paid for, by the JPR Foundation by independent producers and freelance reporters.  The JPR Foundation expects its outside contributors to be free of conflicts of interest on stories they cover, to be fair and accurate, and to pursue stories in a manner consistent with the ethical journalism principles stated in this code. There will be instances where provisions of this code are not applicable to an outside contributor (a freelancer, who primarily does arts coverage, for example, may in some situations not be subject to the prohibition on making contributions to political campaigns). Supervisor(s) of journalists will make these judgments on a case-by-case basis and, if necessary, in consultation with the Executive Director. Because contributors in this category are not JPR Foundation employees, the remedy for dealing with a conflict of interest or other violation of the principles of this code is rejection of the offered material as well as any future story proposals similarly affected by the conflict. As with JPR Foundation journalist employees, outside contributors must disclose potential conflicts of interest when they accept an assignment or make a story pitch, and news editors must make sufficient inquiries of those persons to satisfy themselves that the contributors have complied with this code.

III. Statement of principles

News programming created by JPR Foundation journalists must be fair, unbiased, accurate, complete and honest.  JPR Foundation journalists are expected to act in a manner that leaves no question about independence and fairness. Interview subjects and listeners must be treated with respect.  The JPR Foundation will provide a mechanism for unfiltered feedback from listeners.

• Fairness means that all important views on a subject are presented– and treated even-handedly. This range of views may be encompassed in a single story on a controversial topic, or it may play out over a body of coverage or series. But at all times the commitment to presenting all important views must be conscious and affirmative, and it must be timely if it is being accomplished over the course of more than one story.  Topics known to be controversial in nature often best achieve fairness objectives by interviewing multiple parties  with differing viewpoints.  If this is not possible during a single program, time should be allocated for interview subjects with opposing views during subsequent coverage.

• Unbiased means that personal opinions are kept separate – such as an individual’s religious beliefs or political ideology – from the subjects being covered. Coverage is not approached with overt or hidden agendas. 

• Accuracy means that each day rigorous efforts are made at all levels of the newsgathering and programming process to ensure facts are not only right but also presented in the correct context. When material is argumentative or capable of different interpretations, an attempt will be made to verify the words of the sources and the officials interviewed.  All facts gathered are treated with skepticism and reported only when we are reasonably satisfied as to their accuracy. Errors of omission that cause a story to misinform listeners will be guarded against. Language used will accurately describe the facts and will not imply a fact that has not been confirmed.  The acknowledgement of errors will be aired in the program in which they occurred.

• Honesty means people or institutions covered are not deceived about the identity or intentions of JPR Foundation Journalists.  JPR Foundation journalists will not present the work of others as their own (plagiarism), edit interviews in ways that distort their meaning, or manipulate audio in a way that distorts its meaning, how it was obtained or when it was obtained. This includes ambient sound or music used to position a story.  Honesty means owning up publicly and quickly to mistakes made.

• Respect means treating the people covered and listeners with regard. In reporting, the diversity of the region is recognized.  Moreover, the diversity of interests, attitudes and experiences of the audience should be considered. Diverse voices will be sought on as many subjects as is practical. Subjects are approached in an open-minded, sensitive and civil way.

IV. Conflicts of interest

1. To inspire listener confidence in the JPR Foundation’s independence and fairness, JPR Foundation journalists should conduct themselves in a manner that avoids actual and perceived conflicts of interests.

2. A conflict of interest in its simplest dictionary term is a conflict between the private interests and the professional responsibilities of a person in a position of trust. An operative word in this sentence is “trust.” All JPR Foundation journalists are in positions of trust when it comes to both the audience and the people and institutions covered. To maintain that trust requires that there be no real or perceived overlap between the private interests and opinions of JPR journalists and their professional responsibilities.

3. An employee covered by this code has the responsibility to disclose potential conflicts of interest. Revealing a conflict of interest after an individual has already participated in coverage where such a conflict exists or appears to exist is or can be extremely damaging to the reputation of the JPR Foundation.  JPR Foundation journalists must, at the time they are first assigned to cover or work on a matter, disclose to their immediate supervisor any business, commercial, financial or personal interests where such interests might reasonably be construed as being in actual, apparent or potential conflict with their duties. This would include situations in which a spouse, family member or companion is an active participant in a subject area that the JPR journalist covers. In the financial category, this does not include a journalist’s investment in mutual funds or pension funds that are invested by fund managers in a broad range of companies.  Supervisors will decide whether the interests create an actual conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict. In making these decisions, supervisors should feel free to consult with the Executive Director. In live programming, journalists, interviewers or hosts should take care to disclose to listeners any membership in or significant involvement with an organization relevantly linked to a topic or issue they are covering.

V. Outside work, freelancing, speaking engagements

1. The primary responsibility of  JPR Foundation journalists is to gather, write, edit or produce news or public affairs content for the JPR Foundation and not work in direct competition with the JPR Foundation. An example of competing with the JPR Foundation would be breaking a story for another news outlet before reporting the story for the JPR Foundation.

2. JPR Foundation journalists must get written permission for all outside journalistic work. Requests should be submitted to the employee’s supervisor. Approval will be made by the Executive Director or designee. Approval will not be denied if the proposed work will not discredit the JPR Foundation, conflict with the JPR Foundation’s interests, create a conflict of interest for the employee or interfere with the employee’s ability to perform JPR Foundation duties.

3. JPR Foundation journalists may produce content for international, national and regional news partners so long as the work does not interfere with their ability to perform JPR Foundation duties.

4. JPR Foundation journalists may not engage in public relations work, paid or unpaid. Exceptions may be made for volunteer nonprofit, nonpartisan activities, such as participating in the work of a church or synagogue or charitable organization, so long as this would not conflict with the interests of the JPR Foundation in reporting on activities related to that organization. When in doubt, employees should consult their supervisor.

5. JPR Foundation journalists may not do outside work for government or agencies principally funded by government, or for private organizations that are regularly covered in their work for the  JPR Foundation. This includes work that would be done on leaves of absence. There may be instances in which such work will be approved after consultation with the journalist’s supervisor.

6. JPR Foundation journalists may not ghostwrite or co-author articles or books with people they cover, or write reports – such as annual reports – for government agencies, institutions or businesses that the JPR Foundation covers.

7. JPR Foundation journalists may speak before groups so long as the content does not discredit the JPR Foundation, conflict with JPR Foundation’s interests, or create a conflict of interest for the employee. JPR Foundation journalists may not speak in settings where their appearance is being used by an organization to market its services or products, unless it is marketing the JPR Foundation or its interests. JPR Foundation journalists are permitted to engage in promotional activities for books they have written (such as a book tour), although they are expected to get approval from their supervisors on scheduling.

8. JPR Foundation journalists may only accept speaking fees from groups not engaged in significant lobbying or political activity. Determining whether a group engages in significant lobbying or political activity is the responsibility of the journalists seeking permission, and all information must be fully disclosed to a supervisor.

9. JPR Foundation journalists may not speak to groups where the journalist’s appearance reasonably suggests an endorsement of the organization’s agenda.

10. JPR Foundation journalists must get permission from his/her supervisor to appear on TV or other media. It is not necessary to get permission in each instance when the employee is a regular participant on an approved show. Permission for such appearances may be revoked if the JPR Foundation determines the appearance discredits the JPR Foundation, conflicts with the JPR Foundation’s interests, or creates a conflict for the employee.

11. In appearing on TV or other media, JPR Foundation journalists should not express views they would not air in their role on JPR Foundation-funded programs.

VI. Personal gain, gifts, freebies, loaned equipment or merchandise, etc.

JPR Foundation journalists may not accept compensation, including property or benefits of significant value, from people or institutions they cover. JPR Foundation journalists may accept gifts of token value (hats, mugs, t-shirts, etc.). Unsolicited items of significant value will be returned with a letter thanking the sender but stating our policy on gifts. In keeping with the intent of the JPR Foundation’s mission to cover community events , JPR Foundation journalists may on occasion receive complimentary tickets to paid events.  On such occasions JPR Foundation journalists shall take specific care to be sure that coverage is in no way influenced by this consideration. JPR journalists should pay for their own travel and meals in accordance with the JPR Foundation’s travel policy.  There are certain instances – such as conferences and conventions – where food is provided as a convenience for the press as a whole, and in such instances it is acceptable to take advantage of this. In addition, JPR Foundation journalists may accept paid travel and meals for speaking engagements and awards ceremonies that are approved under the standards in this document.

2. JPR Foundation journalists must conduct themselves at all times in a manner that leaves no grounds for belief, or even the appearance, that information they have gathered on the job has been used for personal gain, financial or otherwise.

3. JPR Foundation journalists may not use any nonpublic information acquired at work for personal gain, or use their association with the JPR Foundation for personal gain. No JPR Foundation journalist may disclose information acquired by the JPR Foundation to anyone inside or outside of  the JPR Foundation if the intent is to use that information for personal or institutional gain. This prohibition does not apply to accepted journalistic practices, such as sharing information as a member of a news “pool.”

4. JPR Foundation journalists cannot sell items like books, CDs, etc., they receive for review in their work.   Such items belong to the JPR Foundation. They may be distributed to staff for their personal use (which may include donations to charities) after they are no longer needed.

5. JPR Foundation journalists cannot keep equipment or items of value provided by a company for story purposes. Such items must be disclosed to the journalist’s supervisor and are to be disposed of in accordance with the ethical practices stated in this document, which usually means returning such items to the provider.

VII. Ethical conduct in coverage of news

1. JPR Foundation journalists do not plagiarize (i.e. take other peoples’ work and present it as their own).

2. JPR Foundation journalists must take special care in the use they make of information from wire service stories, reports by other broadcast news organizations, newspaper clips or articles in other publications. No material from another source should ever be included verbatim, or substantially so, without attribution.

• Wire services: There is one category of quotation from wire services where it is acceptable to use quotes without attribution. That is where an AP or Reuters story is about some public event – like a press conference, speech by a public official in a public setting, an official statement of a
government agency, a congressional hearing, and the like. In those cases, we reasonably expect that AP and Reuters are reliable conveyors of those quotes in the same way we regard the transcript services we use for these events. However, reporters and editors must use caution and check source material if there is reason to believe that information has been inaccurately reported or has been taken out of its proper context.

• When using material from newspaper stories, JPR Foundation journalists should double-check “facts” and other material gleaned from those stories when possible.  JPR Foundation journalists should take special care not to pass on erroneous information.

3. JPR Foundation journalists must treat the people they cover fairly and with respect. They should always keep in mind that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort, and they weigh that against the importance of the story. Sensitivity is shown when seeking or using interviews of those affected by tragedy or grief.  Special sensitivity must be used when dealing with children and inexperienced or unsophisticated sources or subjects, or individuals who have difficulty understanding the language in which they are being interviewed.

4. JPR Foundation journalists should think carefully about the boundaries between legitimate journalistic pursuit and an individual’s right to privacy. We recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding
public need to know can justify intrusion into anyone's privacy.

5. JPR Foundation journalists should make sure actualities, quotes or paraphrases of those interviewed are accurate and are used in the proper context. An actuality from an interviewee or speaker should reflect accurately what that person was asked or was responding to. If tape or material from an earlier story is used, it is clearly identify as such. Listeners should be told about the circumstances of an interview if that information is pertinent (such as the time the interview took place, the fact that an interviewee was speaking while on the fly, etc.). The burden is on the JPR journalist to ensure that the use of such material is true to the meaning the interviewee or speaker intended.

6. Journalism should be conducted in the open. JPR Foundation journalists do not misrepresent themselves: They disclose who they are and don’t pose as law enforcement officials, investigators or other such officials. There will be occasions to not declare a profession but rather to seek information as a member of the public working in places to which the general public has access, such as stores, public buildings, etc.

7. JPR Foundation journalists will not use hidden microphones, recorders or cameras except in unusual circumstances. Occasionally, information that serves an important journalistic purpose, such as in reporting on illegal, antisocial or fraudulent activities, cannot be obtained by more open means. In such circumstances, approval must be obtained from the Executive Director or designee before any taping takes place. JPR Foundation journalists will not record phone calls without permission. A reporter or host should make clear when an interview has begun or has ended so there is no question about what is or isn’t for broadcast, or what is on the record or not. Permission is presumed by callers to a call-in program.

8. If there is a question of legality in pursuit of a story, JPR Foundation journalists should consult their supervisors.

9. JPR Foundation journalists will not pay for information from sources or newsmakers. They do not allow sources or interviewees to dictate how a topic will be covered, or which other voices or ideas will be included. They do not agree to submit questions in advance unless the supervisor approves a specific instance. If questions are submitted in advance, this will be disclosed in the coverage.

10. JPR Foundation journalists will not sign non-disclosure agreements, except in the rarest of circumstances. The supervisor must approve exceptions to this rule. JPR Foundation journalists respect embargoes on news unless the circumstances surrounding the embargo make adherence to it inappropriate, such as where the information has already surfaced elsewhere or a strong public interest requires the disclosure to place other news in the proper context.

11. Although JPR Foundation journalists may agree to talk to sources on background when necessary, the JPR Foundation’s strong preference is to have people on the record. Before any information is accepted without full attribution, reporters should make every reasonable effort to get it on the record. If that is not possible, reporters should consider seeking the information elsewhere.

12. When reporters quote anonymous sources, the editor or producer of that story has an obligation to satisfy him/herself that the source is credible and reliable, and there is a journalistically justifiable reason to let that person speak without attribution. This obligation also pertains to situations where individuals ask that their real names be withheld. The editor or producer has a twofold responsibility: (1) to make a judgment about whether it is editorially justified to let the person speak anonymously or under cover of a pseudonym or partial description, and (2) to satisfy him/herself that this person is who the piece says s/he is. An editor should never be in the position of having to verify these things after a story has aired and a question is raised about it. If a pseudonym is used, the reporter must disclose this in the story.

13. When JPR Foundation journalists attribute information in a story to a “source” or “sources,” it is assumed that these are the JPR journalists’ sources and that they have obtained the information firsthand. If this is not the case, and the sources are ones quoted by other news organizations, then those sources must be attributed to those other news organizations.

14. JPR Foundation journalists will not show scripts in advance or preview pieces to any person not affiliated with the JPR Foundation.  JPR Foundation journalists may review portions of a script or read back a quotation to assure accuracy. JPR Foundation journalists may also play audio or read transcripts of an interview to a third party if the purpose is to get that party’s reaction to what another person has said.

15. JPR Foundation journalists will correct substantive errors of fact in a timely way. If a JPR Foundation journalist believes the JPR Foundation got something wrong- or that there was a serious defect in a piece – she/he has an affirmative responsibility to get that on the table for investigation and possible correction.  If JPR Foundation journalists have reason to believe there was a significant error, they should not wait for it to be pointed out. 

Journalists who are broadcasting/hosting a live program should make every possible attempt to clearly and candidly correct any erroneous information that is unwittingly broadcast.  However, correction practices are shaped by constraints on the rigor and amount of fact-checking that is possible. In an exchange of uncertain “facts”, the host bears a responsibility to:

• Observe journalistic standards of accuracy for information that he/she prepares in advance of the program.

• Ask guests or callers for substantiation of purported “facts” that seem particularly dubious, inflammatory or controversial.

• Qualify the degree of certainty behind “factual” information that he or she is spontaneously asked about on the air.

• Attempt to improve the accuracy of uncertain information in subsequent broadcasts as time and resources permit.

16. Archival audio or audio that was obtained from a past story must be identified as such if it is used in a new piece. The listener should not be left to think that any archival or previously obtained audio was gathered in the context of the current piece. As an example, a story updating a controversy surrounding an individual would be misleading if it included new assertions of fact but only used past statements by that individual and failed to identify them as such.

17. The JPR Foundation does not name victims of sexual assaults. There will at times be exceptions – such as certain instances when a victim goes public with his/her identity – and JPR Foundation editors will judge these instances on a case-by-case basis.

VIII. Politics, community and outside activities

Because JPR Foundation journalists are public figures, public participation by JPR Foundation journalists in activities of a political nature could be interpreted by some members of the public as an editorial expression of views held by the JPR Foundation– an inference that would inaccurately suggest that the JPR Foundation supports particular political causes, views or issues.  A description of the letter and spirit of this principle may be found in Oregon Administrative Rule 580-022-0010(2).  It is the JPR Foundation’s responsibility to take steps to avoid creating such false impressions and therefore also incumbent upon JPR journalists to conduct themselves in a similar fashion.   The following provisions are designed to achieve that goal.

1.  It is the responsibility of all JPR Foundation journalists to disclose to their supervisor any steps they may take, or have taken, relative to seeking public office, endorsing candidates or participating in such activities. Since contributions to candidates are part of the public record, such contributions are also considered to constitute participation in a political campaign.
2.  With respect to participation by JPR Foundation journalists in marches or rallies involving causes or issues that the JPR Foundation covers, or signing petitions or otherwise lending their name to, or contributing money to, such causes, it is the obligation of JPR Foundation journalists to assure that such acts will not reasonably be interpreted to relate either to the JPR Foundation or to the employee’s work at the JPR Foundation and/or be inferred by members of the public to represent support by the JPR Foundation for such endeavors.  It is JPR Foundation journalists’ responsibility to take sufficient, suitable steps to avoid any inferences resulting from such activities.   

3. With respect to service on government boards or commissions, is the obligation of JPR Foundation journalists to assure that such participation will not reasonably be inferred by members of the public to represent support by the JPR Foundation for such endeavors.  It is the JPR Foundation journalists’ obligation to take sufficient, suitable steps to avoid any such inferences resulting from such activities. 

4. JPR Foundation journalists may sit on community advisory boards, educational institution trustee boards, boards of religious organizations or boards of nonprofit organizations so long as the JPR Foundation does not normally cover them and they are not engaged in significant lobbying or political activity.  To the degree such service could reasonably be inferred by members of the public to represent support by the JPR Foundation for such endeavors, it is the obligation of JPR Foundation journalists to take sufficient, suitable steps to avoid any such inference arising out of such activities. 

5. When a spouse, family members or companions of JPR Foundation journalists are involved in political activity, JPR Foundation journalists should be sensitive to the fact that this could create real or apparent conflicts of interest. In such instances JPR Foundation journalists should advise his or her supervisor to determine whether s/he should recuse him or herself from covering a certain story or issue.

6.  With respect to Paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this Section VIII, JPR Foundation journalists will not be permitted to report upon, or cover, for the JPR Foundation, or for Jefferson Public Radio on a loaned basis to that organization, (in either broadcast, print or Internet-based media) any issue, organization or individual associated with the circumstances described in those paragraphs which present potential conflict(s) with JPR Foundation journalists’ public appearance of objectivity.  It is the ongoing obligation of JPR Foundation journalists to disclose, in accord with the terms of Paragraphs 1, 2 3 and 4 above, the circumstances identified therein in order to achieve the goals of this Code.  Decisions by JPR Foundation journalists’ supervisors, or appropriate station administrators, regarding the application of the employee’s “exclusion” of ineligible topics pursuant to the provisions of this Section, shall be solely the responsibility of JPR Foundation journalists’ supervisors or their duly appointed representatives.    

IX. Underwriting; foundation grants; advertising, marketing and promotion

1. News judgment and content shall be independent of funding consideration.

2. To the greatest degree allowed by station resources, JPR Foundation journalists will not read funding credits on the air.

3. If the JPR Foundation reports on an organization or individual who funds us, we will disclose that relationship on air if the subject of the report is directly related to the thrust of the funding we received.

4. JPR Foundation journalists will participate in JPR Foundation promotional activities such as fund drives and audience-building initiatives, as assigned.

X. Application and enforcement of this Code

1. Application and enforcement of this Code is the responsibility in the first instance of all individual JPR Foundation journalists. Individuals engaged in editing or producing work generated by a JPR Foundation journalist have special responsibility for application of this Code to matters they are editing or producing.

2. JPR Foundation journalists who do not comply with this Code may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination . 

XI. Miscellaneous

1. Except when expressly authorized by JPR Foundation management, JPR Foundation journalists may not endorse products or provide blurbs for books, movies or performances using their JPR Foundation identification.

2. JPR Foundation journalists must not turn over any notes, audio or working materials from their stories or provide information they have observed in the course of their journalistic activities to government officials or parties involved in or considering litigation. If such materials or information are requested pursuant to governmental, administrative or other legal process, JPR Foundation journalists should immediately consult their supervisors.

3. The JPR Foundation owns material that has been collected or produced by JPR Foundation journalists in the course of their duties, irrespective of whether it has been distributed by the JPR Foundation outright, and it may not be reproduced elsewhere without the permission of the JPR Foundation.  At its sole discretion, the JPR Foundation may assign rights to such material to Jefferson Public Radio.

November, 2006

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