The news team at New England Public Radio (NEPR) aims to provide accurate and fair coverage of the events and issues that shape and influence the lives of western New England residents. We take seriously our obligations and responsibilities as professional journalists, and avoid conflicts of interest – or even the appearance of them.
We follow the NPR ethics handbook, which includes both guiding principles on journalistic standards, and practical advice on everyday reporting. There are some instances when our practices diverge from NPR’s. For instance, NPR does not allow its news employees to read on-air announcements of financial support. New England Public Radio news employees do read underwriting messages, although these sponsorships play no role in our news decision-making.
The license for WFCR, the main signal for NEPR, is held by the University of Massachusetts. As such, most employees of NEPR – including those in the newsroom – are employees of UMass Amherst and the state of Massachusetts, which contributes to the employee pension plan. However, salaries and benefits, are paid by donor contributions and underwriting which NEPR seeks directly from the community in support of the organization’s annual operating budget.
Further, the station’s editorial independence is spelled out in the General Tenets and Operating Principles for WFCR:
“[The station has a responsibility] to make independent editorial and programming judgments without regard to the political, financial or promotional interests of any individual or organization.”
The NEPR news department recognizes that UMass Amherst is a large employer for the region and a public entity, and believes it is important we provide independent coverage of its activities, policies and administrative decisions. The decisions on whether, when and how we report those stories are made entirely within the NEPR news department, without influence or involvement from UMass Amherst or Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges, which along with UMass Amherst founded the station. Each entity retains a seat on the NEPR Foundation Board, Inc., the fundraising entity for NEPR.
All the locally produced stories heard on NEPR frequencies and seen on NEPR.net must go through our strict editorial process. Occasionally, we make mistakes. Starting in May of 2015, you can see a list of our corrections here. A correction is also listed at the bottom of a web story in italics, and – when applicable – read on the radio.
Much of the news coverage you hear on our frequencies and found on our website is produced by NPR. We carry the network’s programming, but are not involved in its editorial process. You can contact NPR and see a list of its corrections at NPR.org.