Thursday, December 13, 2007

In the family

How you report the news when you have become the news is one of the most ticklish problems in journalistic ethics. A case in point is a story that will air in a few minutes on All Before Five, and again tomorrow (Friday) during the Eight O'Clock Hour. Recently, in a rare FCC "filing window" for applying for broadcast licenses, NCPR applied to upgrade its facility in Lake Placid to a higher-power license. Our public radio neighbor to the south, Northeast Public Radio (WAMC), also made an application that, if successful, would transfer the Lake Placid 91.7 fm frequency from NCPR to them.

The news was first aired in the region this morning on Saranac Lake station WNBZ, in a feature story by Chris Knight who, in addition to his duties at WNBZ, is a frequent freelance reporter for NCPR on Adirondack issues. While NCPR is committed to retaining the frequency on which it has served Lake Placid for over twenty years, we needed to find a way to cover the story in a fair and balanced way that would place the public interest ahead of the institutional interests of the station. Toward that end, the station manager and the news director sought advice from the Poynter Institute, an organization that provides training in journalistic ethics. They recommended that we use an outside editor with no connection to either of the parties to the dispute to oversee NCPR's coverage. Suzanna Capelouto, news director of Georgia Public Broadcasting, agreed to fill that role. The reporting by Chris Knight that you will hear on NCPR tonight and tomorrow was edited by her.

NCPR's position on the dispute and links to other coverage, including Northeast Public Radio.

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