The following standards should be applied to content-related decisions on air and online:
- News operations should not show favoritism to advertisers. It should be clear to all advertisers that they have no influence over news content.
- Professional electronic journalists should expose unethical or illegal business practices, but should not target businesses unfairly.
- Content should be generated based on journalistic merits and not solely as an advertising vehicle.
- The most important professional responsibility of an electronic journalist is to report the news. Everything else comes second.
- News directors should carefully consider instances when ratings and demographics drive coverage decisions and ensure that news coverage remains journalistically sound and serves the public interest.
- News organizations should protect the integrity of coverage against any potential conflict of interest arising from station owners’ commercial or other interests.
- Coverage of a promotional or commercial event that an advertiser or station sponsors should be proportional to the event’s newsworthiness.
- Stations or networks should foster a high degree of communication, collaboration, respect and trust among station leaders and staff members. Business-side managers should be encouraged to understand that journalistic independence and credibility are among the station’s most precious commodities.
- News directors should insist that newsroom employees do not accept gifts, favors or other compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.
- A news operation’s online product should clearly separate commercial and editorial content and maintain the same high journalistic and ethical standards as the on-air product.
- Professional electronic journalists should tell their audiences why and how they made decisions, especially if the public might perceive that journalistic independence has been compromised.
See more at: http://www.rtdna.org/content/coverage_guidelines/