Current dot org The Gray Page

Ethics in public broadcasting

Public broadcasters are probably far from the worst violators of ethical codes in media, but they face stressful temptations. Questions arose in both gray and black-and-white situations reported in these Current articles.

Journalistic ethics guide
Pubradio guide urges broad application of news ethics, Jan. 19, 2004

Avoiding ethical crises
Talk through 'gray areas,' giving staff a moral compass
Commentary by Patti Dodgen, Feb. 24, 2003

Foundations, funding and independence
Commentary by Raul Ramirez on PoynterOnline
(Current published a version July 8, 2002)

Management ethics
Palm Beach station staff pushes out chairman, March 2, 1992
Wichita: Wichita staff uprising forces v.p.'s resignation
Aug. 19, 1996; Lawsuits are latest fallout from 1996 staff revolt in Wichita, May 24, 1999
Allentown: Auction bids probed in Allentown, Oct. 4, 1993; Embattled WLVT founder Shel Siegel to retire at 58, March 28, 1994

Plain old malfeasance, actual or alleged
Nancy Kruse accused: Fundraiser’s past a red flag no one saw, Aug. 8, 2005
Financial irregularities: Extreme audit outcomes: guilty pleas in court, Jan. 13, 2003
New York: Thief gets jail term; stations still vulnerable to inside jobs, Sept. 8, 2003
Chicago: WTTW employee who fled theft allegations faces arraignment, Feb. 23, 2004
Jacksonville: Funding scheme leads to exit, Oct. 8, 1990

Accountability and transparency
Donors demand clearer view of station reality
Commentary by Bob Ottenhoff, Sept. 8, 2003
Required filing: a chance to show your stuff
Commentary by Cindy Browne, Jan. 19, 2004

NPR's first ombudsman: my year as a 'porous membrane'
Commentary by Jeffrey Dvorkin, June 11, 2001

Journalistic conflicts of interest: corporate and foundation funders
KQED drops Mondavi project in underwriting controversy Nov. 25, 1996
WBUR takes cautious tack on topical underwriting
April 3, 2000
Connecticut flap points up partnership pitfalls
Aug. 29, 2005
Paid advertorial programs: Cronkite fights 'masquerade' that trades on his reputation (American Review series), Feb. 23, 2004
Haig's chats with executives seen as '30-minute commercial' (World Business Review series), Feb. 25, 2002
Nonprofits raise the money to be profiled on Visionaries, Feb. 25, 2002
Spotlight On: fillers for hire, Feb. 25, 2002

Journalistic conflicts: political independence
List exchanges: Congress reacts hotly to station donor-list swaps with Democrats July 19, 1999; CPB bans list dealings with politicos, Aug. 2, 1999
WHYY: 'Disseminated as news': WHYY took state funds to do positive stories, Nov. 18, 2002

Journalistic conflicts: personal bias
When reporters sound off, eyebrows rise Sept. 8, 2003
'Terrorist': loaded word, handled with caution July 14, 2003
NPR news chiefs deny they knew of Army interns
April 17, 2000
NPR Mideast correspondent broke ban on speaker fees
March 11, 2002

Journalistic conflicts: disclosure
If Moyers had it to do again, he'd disclose his foundation role, Nov. 1, 1999

Journalistic conflicts: licensee's interests
UNC-TV: Clash over bond referendum coverage
Aug. 12, 2000; Readers write about bond referendum coverage in North Carolina Oct. 2, 2000.
Winston-Salem, N.C.: 'Hasty mistake' at WFDD prompts talk of ideals Feb. 21, 2000; University backs off from censoring N.C. station Oct. 4, 1999


Engineering ethics

Society of Broadcast Engineers Canon of Ethics

Journalistic ethics

Independence and Integrity ethics guides for public radio the 1995 original (PDF file) and the 2004 revision (PDF file)

Code of Ethics, Public Radio News Directors Inc.

NPR News Code of Ethics and Practices

Ten Tenets of MPR News,
Guiding Principles for the Journalist,
Minnesota Public Radio

Ethics in Journalism, Society of Professional Journalists

Ethics articles and resources, Poynter Institute

Ethics articles
Online Journalism Review, USC

Newspaper codes of ethics, American Society of Newspaper Editors

Ethics/credibility articles
American Press Institute

Journalist's Toolbox: Ethics

Editorial integrity

Wingspread Statement of Principles on Editorial Integrity in the Program Process for State Licensees of Public Broadcasting Stations, 1984

Objectivity and balance amendment in Public Telecommunications Act of 1992

Government interference

The Nixon Administration Public Broadcasting Papers: A Summary, 1969-74, released 1979 in response to Freedom of Information Act request by Carnegie II staff

Ethical management
Readings suggested by Patti Dodgen [her article]

Four Principles of Ethical Management

Managing Ethics in the Workplace: A Practical Guide for Managers
np_progs/ etx_mod/ethics.htm

Sample organizational values statement
Transformations Consulting Group

SBA Online Women's Business Center: Business Ethics - The Foundation of Effective Leadership


Web page revised Oct. 18, 2005
The biweekly newspaper that covers public broadcasting
A service of Current Publishing Committee


Current dot org    

Transformations Consulting Group values statement

Organizational values statement offered as an example in Patti Dodgen's Current commentary on ethical management in public broadcasting, Feb. 24, 2003

Transformations Consulting Group is based on a foundation of trust. Our values of Teamwork, Communication skills, and Growth and development of business grow from that trust in each other.

Trust is our foundation.

  • Acts with integrity; adhering to the highest standards of conduct and code of values on both a personal and professional level
  • Demonstrates a long and consistent track record of acting with honesty, principle, and integrity
  • Is honest; fair and straight forward, both explicitly and implicitly, in principles, intentions, and actions
  • Respects the rights of others, and the company's principles and code of ethics

Teamwork is working collaboratively with others to achieve success.

  • Lends support to others when they need it
  • Shares expertise with others and takes full advantage of expertise that others have to offer
  • Places issues on the table and works through them
  • Shares good ideas; keeps others well informed
  • Strives for clear definitions of problems or opportunities and clear agreement on how they will be addressed
  • Assures that everyone understands who is responsible for what, and when work is due; consistently meets these deadlines and expectations
  • Notices and addresses problems in personal or group dynamics
  • Fosters a sense of team spirit; demonstrates the philosophy that work can be fun
  • Makes certain credit is given when due
  • Respects personal boundaries; each member is responsible for telling team members quickly and in value neutral language when personal boundaries are exceeded.
  • Holds each other accountable; clearly communicating expectations, ensuring deadlines can be met, checking in on progress and expecting others to live up to their word.
  • Responds to each other
  • Consistently seeks and finds approaches that accomplish tasks while minimizing the use of resources, carefully calculating costs vs. benefits

Communication skills are demonstrated by interacting with each other and our clients in an honest, open way.

  • Gives and receives effective feedback and lessons with each other and with our clients
  • Projects openness to ideas and suggestions of others
  • Accepts different speaking styles
  • Listens to the feelings of the speaker
  • Observes the speaker's gestures and body language
  • Takes notes to facilitate understanding
  • Avoids interrupting others
  • Asks relevant questions which seeks information
  • Admits mistakes
  • Encourages written or verbal evaluation from our clients and each other
  • Communicates clearly and often; asking for help, offering assistance, showing curiosity about other's projects and offering to get involved
  • Presents oneself with confidence and effectiveness to audiences at all levels within our company and at the client's company
  • Uses clear and concise language

Growth and development of business is essential to achieve company goals.

  • Ensures confidentiality on our client's behalf and on the behalf of TCG
  • Respects the needs of our clients; understanding what they want to accomplish, not what we need
  • Matches staff capability and capacity to the work that needs to be accomplished
  • Ensures client's qualifications match our abilities both in deliverables and budget
  • Delivers value
  • Evaluates work periodically with the client and appropriate staff to determine if project is on the proper course; make timely adjustments as needed
  • Avoids conflicts of interest
  • Honors commitments
  • Provides loyalty and dedication to the client and TCG
  • Ensures successful results, operationally and financially, for both the client and TCG
  • Understands diversity as an inclusive term
  • Shows respect for others culture
  • Creates a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere for client interactions

Source: Transformations Consulting Group, Lutz, Fla. [website]