RTDNA issues updated coverage guidelines

July 11, 2017 01:30

RTDNA provides broad ethical guidance to journalists through its Code of Ethics. But it also drills down with more than 30 sets of coverage guidelines, focusing on specific situations encountered by radio, television and digital news organizations, including plagiarism, covering bomb threats, using hidden cameras and more.

This month, RTDNA is issuing updated versions of four sets of guidelines: Breaking news, live coverage, user-generated content and the use of confidential sources.

"Our coverage guidelines are designed to give journalists a framework for decision-making," said RTDNA Ethics Committee Chairman Terence Shepherd. "We have an ongoing process of developing, evaluating and revising these resources to ensure they remain current, relevant and helpful."

Among the new guidelines:
  • Breaking news: Suggestions for delivering content via broadcast and social media channels, a reminder of closed-captioning requirements for television, urges newsrooms to develop a breaking news plan;
  • Live coverage: Safety in the field is given new emphasis, along with notes on protests where law enforcement agencies may use force or arrest journalists;
  • User-generated content: Be aware of how easy it is to create and distribute content via social media, and the need to evaluate the credibility of those who provide it;
  • Confidential sources: Urges journalists and sources to have a clear understanding of how the information being provided will be used before accepting that information.
"In the fast-paced world of newsgathering, journalists must understand the potential impacts of their reporting," said RTDNA Executive Director Mike Cavender. "Our guidelines have been carefully and thoughtfully developed to provide newsrooms with coverage suggestions and important ethical questions to ask, even in the heat of the moment."

You can see them all on our coverage guidelines page.