Guidelines for Ethical Promotions

 

Consider the following questions for promotions:

What do you know? What do you need to know? How well do you understand the story? You need to be involved in the discussions and development of the story on the front-end. It is an especially dangerous practice to write and even begin production of promotions before a reporter has begun the work of reporting the story.

What is our purpose for promoting this story? How does that purpose fit with your station's mission, position and brand?

Is the promotion accurate AND true? Will the story deliver what the promotion promises? Who will double-check the promotion for accuracy, context and tone?

Who are the stakeholders in this story? How well do you understand who the stakeholders are and who has the greatest stake in the story? How might your promotions affect the stakeholders? How can you include many voices with different points of view in the decision on how to promote this story?

What is the tone and degree of your promotion and your coverage? How do you justify the tone of your promotion and the degree to which you promote it? Appropriately use subjective adjectives such as œtragic,frightening and shocking.Are you inflating the importance of this story beyond its real value to the public?

Does this promotion raise unnecessary fears? Dont suggest by innuendo that something is harmful if it is not.

What images and audio are you using in your promotion? How accurately do they reflect the actual event? Do not stage or create video illustrations for your promotions that viewers may believe are actual events. You should avoid using images that stereotype and instead consider how victims, vulnerable people and the accused are portrayed?

What effects might your production decisions have on the audience's understanding of the story? What guidelines does your station have about using altered audio or video, music, file tape, slo-mo, still frames and mug shots?

Are you accountable for your actions? Would you be able to explain your decisions to the newsroom and to the public?

Did you demand the same journalistic integrity for your promotion that the newsroom demands of the story itself? The public does not know that the creative services and news departments are not the same. Therefore, the two departments should have the same high standards for truth, accuracy, fairness, balance and integrity.

 

Created through RTNDF's Journalism Ethics Project by Al Tompkins, broadcast/online group leader at The Poynter Institute