This week NPR announced the Network Handbook Working Group that brings together journalists from Member stations across the country and NPR to develop a standards and practices handbook — in tandem with NPR's existing handbook — that focuses on issues of particular concern to stations. NPR is convening this group under the leadership of Kenya Young, managing editor for collaborative journalism. Through this project, NPR and stations will work together to develop a living, responsive resource that supplements existing handbooks in the public media sphere.
"We know there is no one-size-fits-all set of practices for the variety of newsrooms we have in public media. This guide and working group is an effort to align our common thoughts, issues and questions while maintaining a consistent level of editorial and journalistic integrity," Young said. "The ability to create a shared framework of standards and practices elevates our credibility as a public media organization and as a network working to deliver accurate and fair news and information to our communities."
"NPR is essentially a journalism company but local stations sometimes are not and have competing interests. Certain issues may pop up for school district or university licensees that do not arise at NPR or a station that's a community licensee," said Terence Shepherd, news director at WLRN in Miami and member of the working group. "I am looking forward to this group coming up with a framework that addresses these issues and provides a game plan to continue serving our communities while operating under the umbrella of another organization."
"I think it's a good opportunity to give stations a starting point: people are not looking to just be given the answer but how to come up with the answer. The value of this lies in showing people how and why we arrived at a certain conclusion," said working group member Ross Terrell, managing editor at KUER in Salt Lake City. "If we can help jumpstart conversations and even challenge how people have thought about some issues, that will make this a successful project."
NPR's call for participants brought nearly 70 applications from station staff from which a working group was selected to reflect a diversity of locations, station sizes, years in journalism and personal experience.
Young is overseeing the group's work and will be incorporating it into her ongoing effort to better knit together NPR and the newsrooms at Member Stations. The group will also work with NPR's Tony Cavin (Managing Editor for Standards and Practices), Kathy Goldgeier (Network Hub Content Manager) and Mark Memmott (former NPR Standards and Practices Editor) to create a public media resource that will build on and complement NPR's standards and ethics code with additional guidance that takes into account issues of specific concern to stations.
NPR and some stations have already updated existing policies and, in some cases, introduced new standards to our newsrooms. This working group will add a critical resource to help ensure that our newsrooms and organizations are poised to fulfill our mission to serve and represent all communities across the country.
More information about the Collaborative Journalism Network can be found here.
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