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RTNDA issues new guidelines for video news release use

The Radio-Television News Directors Association last week issued new guidelines on the use of video news releases by radio and television newsrooms.

In recent months, government watchdog groups and media critics have raised concern about taxpayer funded video news releases from government agencies being presented during local newscasts without identifying the source of the report. Many have also questioned the use of VNRs from other sources, such as corporations.

The RTNDA ethics committee developed the guidelines to expand on existing policy. According to the association’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, journalists must “clearly disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by outsiders.”

The RTNDA Guidelines for Use of Non-Editorial Video and Audio contain six main points:

  • News managers and producers should determine if the station is able to shoot the video or capture the audio itself, or get it through regular editorial channels, such as its network feed service.
  • News managers and producers should clearly disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by corporate or other non-editorial sources.
  • News managers and producers should determine if interviews provided with video/audio releases follow the same standards regarding conflicts of interest as used in the newsroom.
  • Before re-voicing and airing stories released with all their elements and intended for that purpose, managers and producers should ask questions regarding whether the editorial process behind the story is in concert with those used in the newsroom.
  • Producers should question the source of network feed video that appears to have come from sources other than the network’s news operation.
  • News managers and producers should consider how video/audio released from groups without a profit or political agenda, such as nonprofit, charitable and educational institutions, will be used in newscasts, if at all.

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