Use of Non-Editorial Audio & Video

Television and radio stations should strive to protect the editorial integrity of the video and audio they air. This integrity, at times, might come into question when stations air video and audio provided to newsrooms by companies, organizations or governmental agencies with political or financial interests in publicizing the material. News staffs should find answers to the following questions when making decisions to broadcast video or audio produced and/or supplied by non-editorial sources.

RTDNA's Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct states that professional electronic journalists should clearly disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by outsiders. The following guidelines are offered to meet this goal.

  • News managers and producers should determine if the station is able to shoot this video or capture this audio itself, or get it through regular editorial channels, such as its network feed service. If this video/audio is available in no other way but through corporate release (as in the case of proprietary assembly line video), then managers should decide what value using the video/audio brings to the newscast, and if that value outweighs the possible appearance of product placements or commercial interests.
  • News managers and producers should clearly disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by corporate or other non-editorial sources. For example, graphics could denote Mercy Hospital video and the reporter or anchor script could also acknowledge it by stating, This operating room video was provided by Mercy Hospital.
  • 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. For instance, some releases might contain interviews where subjects and interviewers are employed by the same organization. Consider whether tough questions were asked and if the subject was properly questioned.
  • 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. Some questions to ask include whether more than one side is included, if there is a financial agenda to releasing the story, and if the viewers and/or listeners would believe this is work done locally by your team.
  • Producers should question the source of network feed video that appears to have come from sources other than the networks news operation. Network feed producers should supply information revealing the source of such material.
  • 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. Can this material add valuable insight to local stories? Has it been issued to be aired locally and credited to the issuing organizations. Will viewers find it to be useful information?