Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NPR staff told to stay away from Colbert, Stewart rallies if not covering them

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Memos to NPR staffers

From: [NPR chief executive] Vivian Schiller
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 8:58 AM
To: AllStaff
Subject: FW: NPR Journalists and political activity

To ALL NPR staff,

Please see Ellen Weiss' note to her staff below (and in particular, the
reference to the upcoming Jon Stewart rally). In addition to News, the
other divisions that are required to abide by the NPR News Ethics policy
are digital, programming/AIR, legal and communications.

no matter where you work at NPR you should be very mindful that you
represent the organization and its news coverage in the eyes of your
friends, neighbors and others. So please think twice about the message
you may be sending about our objectivity before you attend a rally or
post a bumper sticker or yard sign. We are all NPR.

If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to your supervisor.



From: [Senior vice president for news] Ellen Weiss
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 8:46 AM
To: News-All Staff
Subject: NPR Journalists and political activity

As we head into the final weeks of this political season, I thought it
would be valuable to send out a reminder of what NPR News Ethics
Policies and Social Media Guidelines are regarding political activity.
These are the relevant excerpts from the full documents that can be found online .

Please review carefully and if you have any questions please talk to your direct supervisor.

Many thanks,

Political activity:

* NPR journalists may not run for office, endorse candidates or
otherwise engage in politics. Since contributions to candidates are part
of the public record, NPR journalists may not contribute to political
campaigns, as doing so would call into question a journalist’s

* NPR journalists may not participate in marches
and rallies involving causes or issues that NPR covers, nor should they
sign petitions or otherwise lend their name to such causes, or
contribute money to them. This restriction applies to the upcoming John
Stewart and Stephen Colbert rallies.

* You must not advocate for
political or other polarizing issues online. This extends to joining
online groups or using social media in any form (including your Facebook
page or a personal blog) to express personal views on a political or
other controversial issue that you could not write for the air or post

* NPR journalists may not serve on government boards or commissions.


This is a COMEDY Central event, similar to a concert. When management orders staff not to attend, they are setting weird precedent. Should we be prohibited from watching Leno, because his monologue contains political jokes? Shall we be prohibited from reading opinion sections of media outlets? If we forward a cartoon to a friend, are we violating ethics codes?

As for the proscription in their ethics policies against "friending" folks on FaceBook: if I want news from the Tea Parody (oops, slipped in an opinion), the GOP, Communists against sandals, Green Party, etc., I pretty much HAVE to "friend" or "like" those pages. I didn't choose the vocabulary of this; FaceBook did. Mother Jones is not my friend and I don't like Conservatives for Bashing Baby Seals as Sport, but I want to read their news.

If I eat free range turkeys, drink fair trade coffee, drive an electric vehicle, am I exhibiting "liberal bias?" And WHY are we letting the hysterical babble thumpers make us so NERVOUS?!?! They're all watching Faux Noise, anyway!

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