News Policy

A news organization cannot exist without trust and credibility.

All staff, including full- and part-time reporters, freelancers, anchors, producers, talk show hosts, photographers, technical staff, development, support staff and volunteers—frankly, anyone associated with the organization must adhere to these core values. All are obligated to provide objective reporting and steer clear of conflicts of interest or other activities—actual or could be perceived as—compromising journalistic integrity.

Towards this end, WHAV has identified accuracy, reliability and trustworthiness (ART) as key tenets of its news policy.

Accuracy relies on thoroughness, open-mindedness and truthfulness. Every effort must be made to ensure facts are presented correctly, including spellings, names, ages, places and dates; any contrary views are represented

When mistakes happen, WHAV will make timely corrections—on-air, online and in social media—without first being asked to do so. WHAV shall own up to its role in reporting erroneous information.

Reliability means listeners’ or readers’ expectations that WHAV will cover a story in a timely and honest manner will be met. WHAV risks losing audiences if it does not promptly disseminate breaking or important news or updates of the same. Audiences also rely on WHAV to adhere to the highest standards of fairness, integrity, transparency and accountability and consistent presentation across platforms (on-air, online, social media, etc.) in all its reporting. Consistency is achieved by adhering to journalism conventions.

Trustworthiness is attained when news reporting is fair, impartial, transparent and complete. This means steering free of conflicts of interests, disclosing potential conflicts—real or apparent and digging to reveal contrary viewpoints.

Expanding on these central tenets, this is how WHAV ensures fairness, integrity, transparency and credibility.

Fairness

Stories are only fair when they are complete and include significant and important facts. WHAV shall diligently seek out individuals or organizations to address assertions or claims made by others.

Fairness doesn’t necessarily mean simply giving equal time or space. Demonstrably false assertions by newsmakers—even if allotted the same amount of time or space as others—is not permitted.

Integrity

Integrity relies on honesty and civility.

Staff shall never use their positions to secure favors, preferential treatment, tickets, drinks, dinners, lodging or other gifts. Staff may not use company identification cards for purposes not connected with their work. ID cards may not be used to obtain special treatment or advantage from governmental, commercial or other organizations.

All contacts—in-person or by letter, fax, email, text, instant messenger-type apps, etc.—will be polite, straight forward and free of threats. Moreover, WHAV never promises favorable coverage in return for cooperation or offers to pay for interviews, documents or other material.

Transparency

Staff shall remain detached from persons or subjects of inquiry. That is, personal relationships with news sources risk eroding into favoritism. Staff are required to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest when they have household members, friends or other personal associations with any person or subject being reported upon.

Staff must always exercise good judgment, adhering to the highest ethical standards by not accepting gifts, maintaining strict neutrality and avoiding political partisanship by not displaying political pins, buttons, stickers, etc. while on the job. Similarly, no member of the sports staff may gamble on any sports event.

Staff members should refrain from giving money to any political candidate or election cause; attending marches, rallies or fundraising efforts except to provide news coverage; or sign advertisements or petitions taking a position on public issues.

In short, no one is allowed to damage WHAV’s journalistic reputation.

Credibility

Truth and clear presentation of facts matter. WHAV endeavors to report the undistorted truth as best as staff can learn it.

The sources of all information, quotations, photographs and other information must be disclosed and properly attributed. All efforts should be made to verify independently sources of all information.

Use of unidentified “confidential sources” risks credibility and shall be used only as a last resort when there are no other means of providing important context. The public is understandably skeptical of such unnamed sources, perhaps thinking they have been invented to foster a particular viewpoint. Use of such sources is often a result of laziness. Staff must take the time to identify, if possible, another source who will go “on the record.” Even in the rare cases when allowed, the source must be clearly identified ahead of time to editors and management. No advance promises may be made to a “source.” Anonymous allegations and speculation are never acceptable.

To thwart attempts at censorship, staff is prohibited from sharing drafts of news articles prior to dissemination.

Finally, WHAV’s relationship with donors and underwriters rests on the understanding that news and fundraising efforts are separate.

Social Media

It is difficult for people to distinguish between staff members’ personal views and interests from the news WHAV is expected to objectively cover.

Disclose, where possible, your “likes” or “follows” of public figures, events or causes is aimed at fulfilling legitimate newsgathering purposes.

Refrain from sharing, commenting or showing approval/disapproval of topics, individuals and subjects WHAV covers. Staff are encouraged, however, to share WHAV’s social media posts.

Further, staff must refrain from posting anything that could objectively be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism.

Other Legal Issues

As a nonprofit, noncommercial and educational organization, WHAV adheres fully to local, state and federal laws and regulations, including those issued by the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Communications Commission.

In practice, this means staff may not offer opinions or endorse candidates, political activities or other groups when there is even the slightest possibility the public may conceive of these views or endorsements as being on behalf of, or sanctioned by, WHAV.

Plagiarism—the use of another person’s words and style outside of a direct quotation—amounts to theft or copyright infringement and is never tolerated. There may be instances where laws allow “fair use” of limited excerpts, but these must always be attributed to original sources.

WHAV endeavors to steer clear of libel or invasion of privacy. When WHAV receives “takedown requests” relating to its website, which must be in writing, management shall consider whether further action is warranted. In no event will the article be removed, but it may be updated to reflect new information.

While WHAV considers certain government-imposed impediments against audio or video recording or photographing at public meetings or events contrary to the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution, WHAV will make reasonable efforts to comply. Where compliance would greatly hinder WHAV’s ability to report the news and serve the public interest, an authorized radio station manager may file complaints with participating government agents.

WHAV will employ public records requests in an attempt to keep the public informed. Such requests need not follow any particular form. Emails, text messages, etc. are acceptable, but where there may be confusion, staff shall file requests more formally using company templates.

If a reporter or any staff members has compelling evidence a government meeting is not in compliance with the Open Meeting Law, he or she is obligated to immediately raise an objection.

 

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