In response to report issued earlier today, group calls for complete disclosure, but cautions against government action.
In the wake of a report about the use of video news releases without attribution on local television stations (see “Groups Blast ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¹Ã…â€œEpidemic’ of VNRs Aired As News” in today’s “Top Stories”), the Radio-Television News Directors Association said that it “strongly urges station management to review and strengthen their policies requiring complete disclosure of any outside material used in news programming.”
RTNDA said its longstanding policy on the identification of outside material is stated in its Code of Ethics: “Professional electronic journalists must clearly disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by outsiders.”
RTNDA’s Ethics Committee developed guidelines on video news releases to elaborate on questions journalists should address when considering whether to use outside material. The guidelines also state that if such material is deemed to serve a useful journalistic purpose, it should be used only if the origin is clearly identified.
To assist station management, RTNDA is distributing these guidelines to its membership again today.
In addition, the group said: “Some have called for government regulation of use of material from video news releases. RTNDA cautions against government intrusion in determining news content because such action would undermine First Amendment values. Determining the content of a newscast, including when and how to identify sources, is at the very heart of the responsibility of electronic journalists, and these decisions must remain far removed from government involvement or supervision.
“The public has a right to expect truthfulness, accuracy and fairness in newscasts. Electronic journalists have every incentive to maintain the bonds of trust with their audiences by clearly disclosing the sources of the material they use.”