WGXC’s news programming (online and on-air) shall strive to reflect the breadth of interests, viewpoints, experiences, characters, and political and religious beliefs in our listening area, while simultaneously maintaining quality journalistic standards and staying true to our stated station values.
News programming includes reports edited and approved by WGXC’s news editors. WGXC news programming are broadcast at consistent morning and afternoon times, and will be audibly distinguished from other programming.
WGXC News -- Individual Roles
Components of Integrity
When uncertainty arises about the application of these guidelines, the primary goal always should be to protect the station’s integrity and provide listeners/readers with honest reporting. When in doubt, contributors should not be shy about asking questions. A robust, ongoing discussion of ethics at all levels of the station is essential to producing consistently high quality public service programming. There are several components to journalistic integrity.
WGXC News Best Practices
These practices detail news policies specific to the operation of WGXC. If you have any questions on these policies, please consult the Managing News Editor or Station Manager.
Crediting a source is not a substitute for clearance with regard to copyrighted media content. When we sample from other sources, we always acknowledge their origins. WGXC journalists must take special care in the use they make of information from wire service stories, reports by other broadcast news organizations, newspapers, articles in other publications, or online sources. No material from another source should ever be included verbatim without attribution. WGXC journalists should give credit to other news organizations for stories that demonstrate enterprise or contain exclusive information. When using material from newspaper stories, WGXC journalists must fact-check the material gleaned from those stories as much as possible. Online, WGXC stories should contain as many links as possible to facts and other reporting on the subject. Copyrighted images from sources external to WGXC should never be utilized online.
We strive to correct substantive errors of fact in a timely way. If WGXC journalists have reason to believe there are significant errors in a story, they should report the details to the Managing News Editor immediately. If there is any possibility the material in question poses a legal liability, WGXC journalists should err on the side of caution in checking corrections, clarifications or retractions with the Managing News Editor before they air or are posted online.
Dealing with minors (generally defined as anyone under the age of 18) involves special considerations. An interview of a minor about a sensitive subject requires WGXC journalists to secure written permission from the minor's parent or legal guardian. Interviews conducted on school premises almost always require the consent of school authorities. Examples of sensitive subjects include, but are not limited to: academic dishonesty; sexual activity or abuse; involvement in gangs or crime including probation violation; difficult family relationships; out-of-wedlock pregnancy or parenthood; and similar topics that could have legal ramifications or lead to embarrassment. An interview on a non-sensitive topic does not require parental consent.
If a minor is a witness to a crime, the WGXC journalist must weigh carefully whether the story may expose the minor to risk by identifying him or her by name as a potential witness, and whether there is potential for the minor to be accused as a participant.
Consult the Managing News Editor if you have any questions regarding whether an interview with a minor requires consent.
WGXC journalists must carefully consider the fluid boundaries between legitimate journalistic pursuit, the public’s right to know, and an individual's right to privacy. We recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. For the purposes of identification, public figures include elected and appointed governmental figures, executives and spokespeople for corporations and not-for-profit institutions, those who regularly take a position on public issues, entities involved in public review processes, and anyone charged with a crime.
WGXC journalists must make sure that actualities, quotes, or paraphrases of those we interview are accurate and used in proper context. Within our news broadcast segments, if we use material from an earlier story, we clearly identify it as such. We tell listeners about the circumstances of an interview if that information is pertinent (such as the time the interview took place, how the interview was obtained, etc.). The burden is on the journalist to ensure that our use of such material is true to the meaning the speaker intended, or the speaker is fully aware of the context in which his/her interview is being used. Audio should never be employed to mislead or deceive the listener.
WGXC journalists do not misrepresent themselves and should not pose as anyone other than themselves. Any other extraordinary tactics for collecting information must be approved in writing by the Managing News Editor. Although New York is a one-party consent state, WGXC journalists do not record phone calls without the other party’s permission. The FCC requires that we seek the consent of live callers into our station before we broadcast them.
If there is a question of legality in pursuit of a story, WGXC journalists must consult with the Managing News Editor.
Plagiarism is not tolerated. WGXC puts its highest value on presenting a sophisticated balance of firsthand and community news gathering with a high degree of accuracy, including a comprehensive overview of what other regional media is reporting on in our community, and how all these elements affect us on a daily basis.
WGXC journalists do not pay for information from sources or newsmakers.
WGXC journalists do not sign non-disclosure agreements. Exceptions to this rule must be approved in writing by the Managing News Editor. WGXC journalists respect embargoes on news unless the circumstances surrounding the embargo make adherence to it inappropriate, such as where the information has already surfaced elsewhere or a strong public interest requires the disclosure to place other news in proper context.
There are five degrees of attribution available to sources of our stories:
WGXC journalists do not show scripts in advance or preview stories to any person not affiliated with WGXC. It is permissible to review direct quotes with a source in a story to ensure accuracy. WGXC journalists may also play audio or read transcripts of an interview to a third party if the purpose is to get that party's reaction to that information.
Archival audio or audio that was obtained from a prior story must be identified if it is used in a new story. For example, a story updating a controversy surrounding an individual would be misleading if it included new assertions of fact but used past statements by that individual and failed to identify them as such.
WGXC journalists will use only authentic sound recorded at the stated location. WGXC journalists will not use canned sound effects unless for obvious comic or satirical purposes and they clearly identified as sound effects. If there are questions as to the appropriateness of the use of sound or sound effects, please consult your News Editor.
WGXC does not name victims of crimes unless they are of public importance, as defined in the Privacy section of this document. There will at times be exceptions, such as certain instances when a victim goes public with their story, and the Managing News Editor will evaluate these instances on a case-by-case basis.
Conflict of Interest
Journalists should avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Maintaining the trust of our community requires that there be no real or perceived overlap between the private interests of WGXC journalists and their professional responsibilities. We are expected to conduct ourselves in a manner that leaves no question about our independence and impartiality. We will not show favoritism to any outside forces, and we will also resist those who would seek to buy or otherwise influence news content or who would seek to intimidate those gathering news.
A shorthand reference regarding conflict of interest, real or perceived, is: love, blood, or money:
WGXC journalists have the responsibility to disclose potential conflicts of interest to the Managing News Editor upon being assigned a story. The Managing News Editor will determine whether an actual or perceived conflict of interest exists. If a conflict of interest is unavoidable, it should be disclosed to our audience.
WGXC journalists do not forfeit their First Amendment-protected rights of expression or association simply by acting as journalists, but it is strongly recommended that they refrain from mixing these activities in a manner that might raise questions about their professional impartiality or that of WGXC’s news operations. Any circumstances where a perceived conflict is possible full disclosure is mandatory (i.e., membership in an organization germane to the story, activities related to political campaigns such as petition-signing and donations, etc.). Questions regarding your personal political activity should consult the Managing News Editor or WGXC Station Manager for guidance.
If WGXC reports on an organization or individual who funds us, or provides underwriting to our programming, we will disclose that relationship in cases where the subject of a story is directly related to the funding provided by the organization or individual.
WGXC seeks to be an engaged member of the community and works to build partnerships with other organizations that can help fulfill our mission and serve our listeners. However, these partnerships will never be allowed to undermine our editorial independence or credibility.
Dispute and Complaint Resolution
WGXC employees and volunteers who do not comply with the station’s News Policy may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination. Please refer to the WGXC Dispute and Complaint Resolution Policy for further information.
For More Information: Journalists’ Code of Ethics
Based on Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics: https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp
The SPJ Code of Ethics is voluntarily embraced by thousands of journalists, regardless of place or platform, and is widely used in newsrooms and classrooms as a guide for ethical behavior. The code is intended not as a set of rules, but as a resource for ethical decision-making.
Seek Truth and Report It
Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.
Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.
To unify materials produced on behalf of WGXC, while ensuring autonomy for the artists creating WGXC special event promotional fliers, posters, etc., a WGXC footer has been designed and is required on all materials that represent programs and activities produced by WGXC.
The WGXC logo and footer is available for download here.
Official Name & Language
The official name for WGXC is “WGXC: Radio for Open Ears”
The official Station ID is “WGXC, Acra”
The official tagline is “Creative Community Radio”
Each use of the WGXC logo and all promotional materials must be authorized by station staff. PDF proofs must be sent to info [at] wgxc.org for review at least three business days to approve all usage requests.
Any financial expenditure requests must be approved by the Station Manager.
WGXC is a Program Division of Wave Farm, a nonprofit organization with a mission that celebrates creative and community use of media and the airwaves. Wave Farm Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and contributions made to the organization are tax-deductible.
All donations solicited on behalf of WGXC are used to meet the operating expenses of WGXC. Funds shall be solicited in a respectful manner, without pressure, and with the permission of the Station Manager prior to beginning any fundraising activities.
Those soliciting donations or promoting station fundraising events on behalf of WGXC are acting as represents of the station and as such, are expected to conduct themselves in a respectful, professional manner, consistent with station policies.
In general, donor-designated restrictions on gifts to WGXC are undesirable. WGXC seeks to cultivate donors who are in support of the WGXC mission and program division at large. A culture of restricted donations can be crippling for an organization with significant regular operating costs like WGXC. Any donor-designated restrictions on contributions must be approved by the Station Manager and Executive Director before being accepted.
Programmers and Volunteers who wish to have an active role in fundraising, beyond Pledge Drive activities, are invited to join the Fundraising Committee, and may do so by expressing interest to the Station Manager.
WGXC shall work to continuously serve the diverse populations in our listening community. Programmers and Volunteers who wish to have an active role in station Outreach are invited to join the Outreach Committee, and may do so by expressing interest to the Outreach Coordinator.
All public service announcements (PSAs) aired on WGXC 90.7-FM must meet FCC rules. WGXC may not be able to accommodate every PSA request and reserves the right to decline a request. All groups who record an event-specific PSA must also submit their event to our Calendar of Events.
Who is eligible to air PSAs on WGXC?
Generally, nonprofits that provide free services to the public based within the WGXC service area of Greene and Columbia Counties are allowed to air PSAs. However, the PSA cannot be a solicitation of funds, a solicitation for volunteers to solicit funds, or for promoting a "members only" event. WGXC does not mention event sponsors within the body of any PSA.
At no time will a PSA be accepted from any for-profit organization. WGXC also does not air PSAs for commercial events where there is an emphasis on “selling” or “bidding,” including silent auctions, yard sales, bake sales, artist markets and craft fairs.
If there is ever any question as to whether a public service announcement is compliant it should be referred to a WGXC staff member. Announcements that are not compliant will be immediately pulled from rotation.
Policies for Wave Farm employees
Wave Farm and WGXC employees are not permitted to voice pre-recorded PSAs for organizations. Only non-WGXC employees are permitted to voice PSAs. The FCC strictly forbids announcers on noncommercial radio stations from endorsements of any kind.
Submitting a PSA
Due to high demand, PSA submissions must be made AT LEAST 30 days prior to the event. PSA requests must be submitted by mail or email to email@example.com. Please include information about your event. If you are eligible, we will send you a choice of available recording times and ask you to submit a script. The script should be no longer than 27 seconds and must follow the guidelines listed below. ALL SCRIPTS MUST BE APPROVED AT LEAST ONE DAY PRIOR TO YOUR RECORDING SESSION.
PSA Content Restrictions
A PSA cannot refer to prices, values, discounts or sales of any kind. Words such as “free,” “sale,” “discount,” and similar language are prohibited. You may tell listeners where tickets are available for an event, and if an an event is free you may say it's “open to the public.”
Value neutral descriptions
The FCC prohibits noncommercial broadcast outlets from comparative language in describing products, services, or events. You cannot qualify a product, service or event as something that may be more or better in some way than a competitor. That makes it a commercial.
When describing something in value neutral terms you will be describing the actual event, product or service exactly as it is without embellishing language. Here's an example of what is permissible:
"The Such and Such organization will present their annual spring concert this Saturday at 6 p.m., featuring the music of Grammy winning artist, So and So. Lawn chairs, coolers and blankets are welcome to keep you comfortable under the night sky. Information at 555-1234."
Here's an example of a similar announcement that violates the FCC’s noncommercial broadcast rules (offending text underlined):
"The Such and Such organization, one of the leading organizations of its kind, will present their fantastic annual spring concert this Saturday at 6 p.m., featuring the country's favorite artist, Grammy winning So and So. Lawn chairs, coolers and blankets are welcome to keep you comfortable under the night sky. Information at 555-1234."
Calls to Action
Calls to action are, perhaps, the most common offense made in PSAs. A call to action is a statement or phrase that commands or invites someone to do something. The FCC prohibits calls to action on noncommercial broadcasting stations. Some examples of calls to action:
"Bring lawn chairs and blankets."
The word "bring" is a call to action, you are telling a listener to do something. Rephrase as passive: "Lawn chairs and blankets welcomed." You are merely stating that the event organizers will allow people to have these items with them at the event.
"Come to tonight's presentation of Such and Such."
In this statement you are calling the listener action by coming to the event. Rephrase as passive: "The So and So organization will present Such and Such tonight." This simply says that the event is tonight and does not instruct a listener to be there.
"Don't forget to get your tickets."
"Don't forget" and "get" are both instructions to the listener to take action—in this case, get tickets. Rephrase as passive: "Tickets available by pre-order only." Both phrasings tell listeners to get their tickets ahead of time, but the rephrased language falls within the parameters of what the FCC and WGXC permits.
"For more information call 555-1234."
The word "call" is clearly an inducement for a listener to take action, in this case to pick up their phone. The same message may be communicated by changing the language to "More information at 555-1234."
"[Organization Name] invites you…" may be used by local representatives voicing their organization’s PSA.
Examples of words and phrases that cannot be used in PSAs
The following list includes some of the words and phrases that are either comparative, price related, or calls to action, and thus not allowed in PSAs on WGXC. It is not a complete list of all words and phrases that are not acceptable. If there's ever any question about language and content, please speak with a representative of WGXC before you submit your PSA or come to our studios to record it. Based on policy published by WIRH (http://wlrh.org/PSA)
first ("…first annual…" is okay), best, finest, number one, discount or discounted, price, specially priced, free (unless it's in the name of an event), call us, come and…, visit us, visit our…, buy, purchase, don't miss, don't forget, better than, more interesting, your money, get your…, don't go, hurry and get…, fundraiser, auction, silent auction, sale, close out, bring, savings, dig in, stay for, your only…, flea market, yard sale, thrift sale, white elephant sale, fee, low cost, raffle, most beautiful (or any other word preceded by "most"), fantastic
Promoting local organization fundraisers
At no time will WGXC promote an organization’s fundraiser unless it can be promoted strictly as an event. A concert to raise money for a service organization can be promoted as a concert with a brief statement in the body of the announcement that states who will benefit. An example is
" …Proceeds benefit Such and Such organization."
This is the only statement allowable in a PSA to acknowledge a beneficiary. Words such as "fundraiser" are not allowable. There are some fundraising activities that we simply cannot promote, no matter how worthy the cause because the language cannot be modified. Examples include silent auctions and yard sales.
WGXC does not permit mentions of an organization’s event sponsors in PSAs.
Tone of PSAs
The tone you use when reading PSAs is important. PSAs must sound consistent with our other announcements. PSAs that are read like a commercial, even with compliant language and content, is inconsistent with our overall presentation and will be pulled from rotation.
PSA Closing Text
All PSAs must end with "Information at…" This creates a "consistency of sound", an important component of WGXC's overall sound. Do not qualify the word "information" with words like "further" or "more." A website or email is also acceptable with or without a phone number. Some examples:
Acceptable PSA close: "Information at 555-1234 and/or info.org."
Unacceptable PSA close: "Further information on this event at 555-1234 or you can visit our new website at info.org."
Sample Public Service Announcement Text
Start Date: September 22, 2007
End Date: October 4, 2007
The Caribbean Brass Ensemble will perform works including Beethoven and Bach on Saturday, October the 4th at 8 p.m. in the Von Broad Center - North Hall. Information at .... or on the web at www.....
Timing: Approximately :15 seconds
This set of procedures is intended to guide WGXC’s programmers and volunteers who wish to express their concerns regarding the station’s policies, procedures, and performance.
Timing: In order for a dispute or complaint to qualify for processing under this section, it must be filed no later than thirty (30) calendar days after the date on which the aggrieved condition commenced.
• Step One: A programmer and/or volunteer must submit their dispute or complaint in writing to the Community Programming Coordinator or Outreach Coordinator for discussion and action.
• Step Two: If the complainant finds the outcome of Step One unsatisfactory, or was unable to engage in Step One because the complainant was uncomfortable raising the issue with the specified contact, the written dispute or complaint should be submitted to the Station Manager for discussion and action.
• Step Three: If the issue has not been resolved by Steps One or Two, the complainant should submit their written dispute or complaint to the Executive Director. The Executive Director will alert Wave Farm’s Board of Directors to the situation, and may choose to convene a meeting with the complainant and relevant parties. The Executive Director shall respond to the complainant in writing with a final decision.
In all instances, a thorough and fair investigation will take place, giving careful consideration to the rights and dignity of all of those involved in a complaint or dispute.