Yesterday an email went out to National Public Radio (NPR) staff:
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 6:12 PM
Subject: From Dana Rehm: Communications Alert
To: All Staff
Fr: Dana Davis Rehm
Re: Communications Alert
We recently learned of World of Opera host Lisa Simeone’s participation in an Occupy DC group. World of Opera is produced by WDAV, a music and arts station based in Davidson, North Carolina. The program is distributed by NPR. Lisa is not an employee of WDAV or NPR; she is a freelancer with the station.
We're in conversations with WDAV about how they intend to handle this. We of course take this issue very seriously.
As a reminder, all public comment (including social media) on this matter is being managed by NPR Communications.
All media requests should be routed through NPR Communications at 202.513.2300 or email@example.com. We will keep you updated as needed. Thanks.
NPR also repeated that message in a blog post at their site.
Via NPR's code of ethics page:
II. Who is covered
This code covers all employees of the NPR News Division.
The code also applies to material provided to NPR by independent producers, member station contributors and/or reporters and freelance reporters, writers, news contributors or photographers. In cases where essayists or commentators make statements of fact those statements must meet this Code's requirements of accuracy. NPR expects its outside contributors to be free of conflicts of interest on content they submit, to be fair and accurate in creating that material, and to pursue coverage in a manner consistent with the ethical principles stated in this code. There will be instances where provisions of this code are not applicable to an outside contributor. For example, a freelancer who primarily does arts coverage, for example, may not in some situations be subject to the prohibition on making contributions to political campaigns. Such contributions, however, might limit the range of topics or individuals the outside contributor could cover. Supervisors will make these judgments on a case-by-case basis and, if necessary, in consultation with the appropriate programming Senior Vice President, Vice President or their designee.
Because contributors in this category are not NPR 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, or of any future programming proposals similarly affected by the conflict or other violation of the ethical principles. NPR may also terminate any ongoing contract with the freelancer. As with NPR employees who produce content, outside contributors must disclose potential conflicts of interest or other issues under this Code when they accept an assignment or make a story pitch, and NPR editors and producers must make sufficient inquiries of those persons to satisfy themselves that the outside contributors have complied with this code.
Producers of standalone programs acquired by NPR should also apply these ethical principles and procedures to the production of that programming. There may be instances in which the type of programming may not demand the application of a particular principle in this code. In such case, the program producer should confer with the person at NPR who is responsible for managing the program acquisition and determine that NPR agrees that the principle need not be applied. Otherwise, producers of acquired standalone programming should take seriously the requirements of this code.
V. Outside work, freelancing, speaking engagements
1. The primary professional responsibility of NPR journalists is to NPR. They should never work in direct competition with NPR. An example of competing with NPR would be breaking a story or contributing a feature for another broadcast outlet or Web site before offering the work to NPR.
2. NPR journalists must get written permission for all outside freelance and journalistic work, including written articles. Requests should be submitted in writing to the employee's immediate supervisor. Approval will not be unreasonably denied if the proposed work will not discredit NPR, conflict with NPR's interests, create a conflict of interest for the employee or interfere with the employee's ability to perform NPR duties. Supervisors must respond within seven days of receiving a request.
3. NPR journalists must get written permission for broadcast appearances or speaking engagements, whether or not compensated. Requests should be submitted in writing to the employee's immediate supervisor, and copied to the Communications Division at firstname.lastname@example.org. Approval will not be unreasonably denied if the proposed work will not discredit NPR, conflict with NPR's interests, create a conflict of interest for the employee or interfere with the employee's ability to perform NPR duties. Supervisors must respond within seven days of receiving a request.
3. NPR journalists may not engage in public relations work, paid or unpaid. Exceptions may be made for certain volunteer nonprofit, nonpartisan activities, such as participating in the work of a church, synagogue or other institution of worship, or a charitable organization, so long as this would not conflict with the interests of NPR in reporting on activities related to that institution or organization. When in doubt, employees should consult their supervisor.
4. In general, NPR journalists may not without prior permission from their supervisor do outside work for government or agencies principally funded by government, or for private organizations that are regularly covered by NPR. This includes work that would be done on leaves of absence.
5. NPR journalists may not ghostwrite or co-author articles or books or write reports - such as annual reports - for government agencies, institutions or businesses that we cover or are likely to cover.
6. NPR journalists must get approval from the Senior Vice President for the News Division, or that person's designee, before speaking to groups that might have a relationship to a subject that NPR may cover. Generally, NPR journalists may not speak at corporation or industry functions. NPR journalists also may not speak in settings where their appearance is being used by an organization to market its services or products, unless it is marketing NPR or its member stations' interests, and then only as permitted in Section IX, Item 5 (below). NPR 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.
7. NPR journalists may only accept speaking fees from educational or nonprofit 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 NPR journalist seeking permission, and all information must be fully disclosed to the journalist's supervisor.
8. NPR journalists may not speak to groups where the appearance might put in question NPR's impartiality. Such instances include situations where the employee's appearance may appear to endorse the agenda of a group or organization. This would include participation in some political debates and forums where the sponsoring group(s) or other participants are identified with a particular perspective on an issue or issues and NPR journalist's participation might put into question NPR's impartiality.
9. NPR journalists must get permission from the Senior Vice President for News, or their designee, to appear on TV or other media. Requests should be submitted in writing to the employee's immediate supervisor and copied to email@example.com . Approval will not be unreasonably denied if the proposed work will not discredit NPR, conflict with NPR's interests, create a conflict of interest for the employee or interfere with the employee's ability to perform NPR duties. The Senior Vice President or designee must respond within seven days of receiving a request. 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 NPR determines such appearances are harmful to the reputation of NPR or the NPR participant.
10. In appearing on TV or other media including electronic Web-based forums, NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist. They should not participate in shows electronic forums, or blogs that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis.
11. Any NPR journalist intending to write a non-fiction book or TV or movie script or other guiding documents for non-radio productions based in whole or substantial part on assignments they did for NPR must notify NPR in writing of such plans before entering into any agreement with respect to that work. NPR will respond within 14 days as to whether it has any objections to the project.
12. NPR journalists considering book projects or TV or movie productions based on stories that they have covered must be careful not to give any impression they might benefit financially from the outcome of news or program events. They should before taking any actions with respect to such matters seek guidance from the Senior Vice President for News, or their designee.
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