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Policies & Practices

Updated March 2024

The following policies are on this page:

Other reports and info:

Ethics & Editorial Policy

Why this matters

Vermont Public’s mission is to broaden and diversify our audience through relevant, trusted information and stories that bring people and communities together. We emphasize the word trusted because the trust that you, our audience, place in us is our most valuable asset. And we can’t earn and maintain that trust without a solid grounding in journalistic ethics and transparency.

The ethics guidance we share here is a great way to deepen your understanding of how we approach our work, make decisions and hold ourselves accountable. It’s also a roadmap for all the Vermont Public staff who shape and present the local content you hear, watch and read every day — and for our organization’s senior leaders. Our journalists might consult these materials when they have a personal conflict of interest, for example, or a source who’s asked to remain anonymous. More often than not, this guidance serves as a starting place for deeper conversations as we seek to approach our work with humility, integrity and fairness.

We will continually revisit this guidance to ensure it reflects our organization’s values and commitment to public service.

The ethics guidance we follow

Vermont Public is a “joint licensee,” meaning we operate both public radio and public television services, in addition to our wide range of digital and on-demand offerings. As a joint licensee, we follow the robust ethics guidance set forth by our colleagues at the national level for both public radio and public television: NPR and PBS. (Where the guidance diverges, we follow NPR.) You can explore those full documents here:

We require all Vermont Public employees to be familiar with these principles and methods, and we require staff in our Content and Audience & Community departments, as well as our senior leadership, to adhere to them. (Other parts of our organization have also developed their own guidelines — for example, around philanthropy.) We also have an internal employee handbook that lays out expectations for all employees of our organization.

Here are five highlights from the guidance that underscore our commitment to fairness, accountability, independence, accuracy and respect.

1. Fairness [from NPR’s Ethics Handbook]

“To tell the truest story possible, it is essential that we treat those we interview and report on with scrupulous fairness, guided by a spirit of professionalism. We make every effort to gather responses from those who are the subjects of criticism, unfavorable allegations or other negative assertions in our stories. What we broadcast and put online is edited for time and clarity. Whenever we quote, edit or otherwise interpret what people tell us, we aim to be faithful to their meaning, so our stories ring true to those we interview. In all our stories, especially matters of controversy, we strive to consider the strongest arguments we can find on all sides, seeking to deliver both nuance and clarity. Our goal is not to please those whom we report on or to produce stories that create the appearance of balance, but to seek the truth.”

2. Accountability [from PBS Standards]

“Accountability requires producers to stand by their work and to be prepared and willing to respond to relevant inquiries about it, including through active and thoughtful digital engagement with the audience. Accountability also means that producers must adhere to the highest professional standards of conduct and diligently pursue and report the truth. Conflicts of interest must be avoided, and any real or perceived conflicts that could have the appearance of influencing content must be disclosed to PBS.” 

3. Independence [from NPR’s Ethics Handbook]

“To secure the public's trust, we must make it clear that our primary allegiance is to the public. Any personal or professional interests that conflict with that allegiance, whether in appearance or in reality, risk compromising our credibility. We are vigilant in disclosing to both our supervisors and the public any circumstances where our loyalties may be divided – extending to the interests of spouses and other family members – and when necessary, we recuse ourselves from related coverage. Under no circumstances do we skew our reports for personal gain, to help NPR's bottom line or to please those who fund us. Decisions about what we cover and how we do our work are made by our journalists, not by those who provide NPR with financial support.”

4. Accuracy [from PBS Editorial Standards]

“Accuracy means honesty, fidelity to facts, and humility on the part of producers and [staff] to question their own assumptions about the subjects they are handling. Accuracy includes more than simply verifying whether information is correct; facts must be placed in sufficient context based on the nature of the piece to ensure that the public is not misled. For example, facts can lack necessary context if they are presented in a way that omits important details, quotes someone without correctly reflecting what the person was asked, or distorts what occurred. Producers must also be mindful of the language used to frame the facts to avoid deceiving or misleading the audience or encouraging false inferences. A commitment to accuracy also requires gathering, updating, and promptly correcting information as a story develops. Producers must exercise the highest level of care in verifying information, especially when it relates to any accusations of wrongdoing.”

5. Respect [from NPR]

“Everyone affected by our journalism deserves to be treated with decency and compassion. We are civil in our actions and words, avoiding arrogance and hubris. We listen to others. When we ask tough questions, we do so to seek answers — not confrontations. We are sensitive to differences in attitudes and culture. We minimize undue harm and take special care with those who are vulnerable or suffering. And with all subjects of our coverage, we are mindful of their privacy as we fulfill our journalistic obligations.”

Frequently asked questions

How does your newsroom select stories?

Every story is a choice. Here are some of the questions we weigh when deciding whether to move forward with a story, and what shape it will take:

  • Relevance: Who is this story for? Given our broad coverage area, how applicable is this story to communities around the state & region?
  • Timeliness: Is this something that our audience needs to know urgently?
  • Prominence: Does this story revolve around elected officials or others in power who wield a high level of influence?
  • Complexity and nuance: Is this a story that would benefit from multiple voices and perspectives?
  • Representation: Will the diverse array of communities we cover be able to see or hear themselves in our work? How can we center voices that are often left out of coverage of this topic?
  • Impact: Who will this story serve? And how will it affect the people who participate in it? Do we need to take steps to minimize harm in our coverage?
  • Your curiosity, interest and need: We regularly invite you, our audience, to participate in our newsmaking process — whether by joining the conversation on Vermont Edition, taking part in our listener-driven show Brave Little State or dropping a note to one of our reporters to help shape our coverage. We love to hear from you.

Are your journalists biased?

Our journalists are human. We all come to this work with different lived experiences, education and personalities. That will inevitably influence how we approach our work and the stories we pursue.

However, it is our responsibility to interrogate how our individual lived experiences create biases. As trained professionals, it is also our responsibility to seek out as many different perspectives as we can, put accuracy at the center of our work and fairly represent the information we receive during reporting.

How do you ensure stories are accurate and fair? 

Every story – from :45 second newscast items to a lengthy podcast episode, from a video piece to a digital story on our website – receives at least one, and often more than one, edit. In fact, our reporters and producers receive feedback and support from an editor throughout their reporting and producing process.

When we conduct interviews, we clearly identify ourselves as Vermont Public employees, and aim to be transparent about how any information shared with us might be used in our work.

Internally, our Content department has collected basic demographic data about who we interview, in an effort to ensure we are accurately reflecting the diversity of our state in our coverage.

We emphasize rigorous fact-checking in our editing process, and distribute these handy NPR checklists to our staff:

Checklist with heading "The NPR accuracy checklist: 13 things that must be double- or triple-checked"

What happens when you make a mistake?

Vermont Public takes responsibility for our work and strives for accuracy. We correct factual errors as quickly as we can, and are transparent when we’ve messed up. You may hear corrections on the air, or see them noted in our web stories.

We sometimes hear from sources or members of the community who aren’t happy with the way we’ve covered an issue. We consider that feedback carefully, discuss it internally, and make every effort to respond to good-faith criticism and carry it forward to inform future coverage.

Who gets to influence your editorial decisions? 

As a public media organization, we are accountable to our community and we listen and care deeply about the issues you tell us are important to you. Your feedback and suggestions help guide our decisions.

But we want to be very clear about who does not get to influence our coverage: Our president and CEO, our senior leadership team, our board of directors, our advertisers (often called “underwriters” or “business sponsors” in public media) and our donors do not have special access to, or influence over, our journalists. In our industry, this is called a “firewall” — where the Content department’s editorial independence is protected from powerful interests within, or connected to, our organization.

If we’re covering a business or organization that happens to be a Vermont Public sponsor, or is prominently affiliated with a member of our board of directors, we’ll disclose that relationship in the story when our editorial staff deem it necessary to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest. (Sometimes our journalists aren’t aware of the connection, and that’s a good thing.) Find our Sponsor Directory here.

We also adhere to these standards to preserve our editorial independence while interacting with sources:

  • We do not provide interview questions to be vetted ahead of time. We happily provide context regarding what we hope to ask our sources about, and may request, for example, that they prepare to talk about specific data. But we do not agree to limitations on what we may ask.
  • We do not pay for access or for interviews. We do occasionally compensate for use of original performances/recordings to be used in our content, or for special appearances at live events.
  • We don’t accept gifts from sources or any favors that would come with an expectation of favorable coverage. (Our journalists know that gifts of “token value,” such as hats, mugs and T-shirts, are OK; see more from NPR’s handbook here.)
  • We don’t share drafts of our stories with sources. That said, when we’re working to help someone tell a particularly sensitive personal story, we’ll work hard to make sure they’re comfortable with the way their story is being portrayed.

How do you conduct interviews?

We seek to be fair and transparent in every interview, recognizing that each “source” is a whole human who is trusting us with their story — and speaking to us for free. We don’t take that for granted, and take great care to fairly portray people’s views, experiences and perspectives.

When we interview elected officials, or other people in positions of power, we may ask tough questions to hold them to account. When we interview people who have less experience interacting with the media, we take the time to explain how our process works, and what they can expect after the interview is complete.

Do you use anonymous sources?

Only in very rare circumstances. Generally, those would include the personal and economic safety of the source — will they be in danger, or danger of losing their job, if they speak out? — or, sometimes, if the information can’t be obtained through other means, but serves an important public interest.

And, to be clear, anonymous sources are never anonymous to us. We know who they are, and we vet the information they provide. We’ll always explain in the story why we granted a source anonymity; our track record shows we use anonymous sources sparingly.

Do you use AI to write stories?

We follow NPR’s guidance on responsible and ethical use of generative artificial intelligence (GAI) in our reporting and content creation. We recognize that GAI tools may allow reporters to easily synthesize data, transcribe audio, or generate SEO-friendly headlines, among other uses. But we are clear with our editorial staff that “there should always be a human between the robots and our audience” – in other words, it’s critical to review any GAI-generated material for both accuracy and quality. We also set strict prohibitions on using GAI to generate audio, video or editorial imagery or alter it to change its meaning. In addition, all our on-air voices and likenesses will continue to be human.

What’s your relationship with other media in Vermont?

We are an independent organization. You’ll sometimes hear references to the reporting of other outlets in our coverage. Like most media organizations, we’ll sometimes cite the reporting of other outlets and take great care to attribute their information. And in other instances, we’ll formally partner with journalists from other organizations on special projects and coverage areas.

We also support the work of local content creators/storytellers/media-makers through funding and distribution, as part of Vermont Public’s Made Here Fund. We hold all of our collaborators to the same journalistic and ethical standards that we hold ourselves, and consider this guidance from PBS when vetting projects.

Our lives as Vermonters

We are dedicated to our roles as journalists and storytellers, and to preserve your trust we willingly give up the ability to do things like contribute to political campaigns or advocate for a cause we’re directly covering.

However, we are also people who live here, alongside you, in communities across the region. We’re curious about the same things you are. We vote, we show up on Town Meeting Day, we coach youth sports, and we volunteer with organizations we’re passionate about. We care about what happens here and we feel the impacts in many of the same ways. Also, just by living our lives, we interact with and get to know people we sometimes have to cover in our day jobs.

Each circumstance is unique, but we believe transparency and honest conversations between employees and their managers is the best way to coexist as citizens and ethical storytellers. Journalists and producers must be clear and bring forward potential conflicts of interest to their managers.

And when it comes to involvement in our communities, we want every person bound by our ethics policy to be able to thrive and live a full civic life. That means people can participate in and support organizations and movements that recognize our common humanity, build community and support civil rights for all.

Conduct not prohibited by this code

This policy is not intended to restrict communications or actions protected or required by state or federal law.

Programming policy

As an independent and non-partisan source of news and programming for the region, our goal is to select and create broadcast and digital content that meets the broad expectations of our listeners, donors, friends and neighbors.

The Vermont Public Board of Directors delegates the day-to-day operation of the stations (with its various content choices) to the full-time, professional staff of hosts, reporters, producers, editors, and managers. Their responsibility is to offer content of the highest quality that reflects the communities Vermont Public serves, while maintaining the core values of public radio.

The Vermont Public Community Forum is a statutory resource that meets regularly as a group in locations across the listening area and provides important feedback to the organization about content.

This programming model has served the organization well for decades, and it is reflected in the significant audiences, stable funding and broad community involvement that Vermont Public is privileged to enjoy.

Here are the broad criteria that we look at in the selection and creation of specific regional, national and international broadcast and digital content.

Purpose and mission: The station’s goals are informed by the strategic plan, which is updated annually and adopted by the Vermont Public Board of Directors. All content selected and created is aimed at meeting the goals and objectives as outlined in the plan.

Professional evaluation:  We pursue content that is relevant and interesting to our audience. News and information needs to meet the highest standards of editorial integrity and independence. Our music programs must meet the highest standards of creativity, accessibility and discovery.

Independence:  To maintain its independence and integrity, which is paramount, Vermont Public has established a firewall so that all Vermont Public content is free from influence.

Diversity: When selecting and producing content, Vermont Public will deliberately involve a diversity of perspectives and seek out programs, digital content and audience engagement that are inclusive of all segments of our audience and potential audience.

Audience research: Vermont Public uses professional radio research tools and data to evaluate and measure audience trends within the region. National research is also an important factor.

Program availability: The professional reputation and ability of producers to deliver consistently high-quality content, in a timely manner, with fundraising and promotion support, are essential.

Market factors: When selecting and producing content, we take into account the variety of services, both commercial and non-commercial, which are available throughout the listening area.

Content expense:  The cost of acquiring network content or producing local content can vary widely. Vermont Public must always consider the cost of a project in order to stay within its annual budget.

Audience comments:  Audience responses to programming are evaluated regularly. Audience members contact Vermont Public each week by telephone, letter, voice message, social media and email. In all cases our principal goal is that each member of our audience will receive an appropriate and timely response.

Partnerships: Vermont Public may enter into partnerships in order to connect with the community and encourage audience participation in the production of content. These partnerships, which must also adhere to Vermont Public's programming policy, may involve community outreach as well as formal agreements with independent content producers.

Classical's mission and programming philosophy

Vermont Public Classical provides a vibrant and relevant local connection to the timeless beauty and power of classical music. The music is consistently of the highest quality and substance, and it is programmed thoughtfully with deep respect for listeners' lifestyles, values, and worldly curiosity.  

Our hosts are welcoming whether you're a casual or passionate classical music fan. Each performance, artist, and composer brings a unique perspective, and we share that sense of discovery and delight with you. Vermont Public Classical frequently hosts interviews and studio concerts with local and visiting artists in the area in an effort to further our service as a vital performing arts resource in this community. We are committed to keep listeners connected to the thriving arts and performance opportunities our region provides. 

Vermont Public Classical embraces music as a living art form.  We program entire works, with a broad and deep repertoire that includes vocal (choral and opera) and contemporary music.  We respect and include new artists (musicians and composers) and recordings whose perspectives reflect the exciting, ever-changing landscape of styles and performance practice.

Our hosts provide intelligent context for the music — giving listeners the opportunity to consider what was happening culturally or politically at the time a piece was written, and to learn about the background or motivation for the particular piece or recording. Commentary is conversational, personal, inspired, and directly related to the music. We understand listeners come to Vermont Public Classical for the music.

We strive for excellence in our music choices and individual insight and unique perspective in our comments.

Diversity statement

Updated June 2024

Vermont Public aims to serve a broader and more diverse audience through stories that bring people together. To achieve this mission, we seek to reflect and include more communities in Vermont and beyond in our content, services, and organization.

Vermont Public believes in the inherent worth and dignity of all people. We value the characteristics and experiences that make each of us unique and acknowledge the importance of including diverse identities in our public broadcasting work.

We seek to dismantle the systems of oppression that prevent us from becoming a more equitable society. Antiracism is a core value of Vermont Public. Being antiracist results from a conscious decision to make frequent, consistent, equitable choices. These choices require ongoing self-awareness and self-reflection.

In 2022, Vermont Public became a signatory to Public Media for All, an initiative designed to challenge organizations to take specific actions. Some of those action-items we have completed, or have made substantial progress on, include:

  • A comprehensive pay equity review by an outside firm, leading to salary adjustments to remedy inequities. 
  • A staff that better reflects Vermont’s rapidly-growing Global Majority population. 
  • An anonymous staff survey where diversity, equity and inclusion are a major focus. 
  • A staff committee focused on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging that makes recommendations and helps hold leadership accountable. 
  • Training and discussions by all staff on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, including three mandatory all-staff training sessions. 
  • Paid internship program. 

Our stories, music and educational content strive to help people understand and respect one another, despite our differences. This makes Vermont and our region a better place to live - more just, supportive and enjoyable.
It is our responsibility to interrogate how our individual lived experiences create biases. As trained professionals, it is also our responsibility to seek out as many different perspectives as we can, put accuracy at the center of our work and fairly represent the information we receive during reporting.

Earning the trust of our audience is hard-won and requires constant effort. We will continue to hold ourselves accountable to our own editorial policies and practices, receiving and responding to feedback, and curating a mix of programs that include many viewpoints, opinions and experiences.

Year in Review

Vermont Public continues to make progress in our efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion. During our 2024 fiscal year (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024) we celebrate the following accomplishments:

Staff, Management & Board of Directors

Representation of diversity among staff, leadership and our board is not enough, yet it is a necessary precondition for change.

Vermont Public is a proud equal-opportunity employer. We work diligently to recruit a broad pool of candidates and to hire and promote qualified individuals whose personal experiences, characteristics, and talents better equip us to serve our greater community, both present and future. Our equal employment opportunities apply to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.

As of May 2024, 9.6 percent of Vermont Public staff identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). That compares to 10.9 percent of Vermont’s population who are Black, Asian, Hispanic, American Indian, more than one race or some other race, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

Our staff includes 114 employees: 104 full-time and 10 part-time. Through self-reporting, 98 employees said they are white, non-Hispanic and 11 identified as Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC). Five preferred not to answer.

  • The 9.6% of our staff identifying as BIPOC is an increase from 7% in 2020, and represents 10.6% of full-time employees, nearly in line with BIPOC representation across Vermont. 
  • 4% of all managers (1 in 23) identify as BIPOC, compared to none in 2020. 
  • 25% of the members of our Board of Directors identify as BIPOC, compared to 6% in 2020. 

On gender, our employees include 61 women and 44 men (54% female/39% male) and 9 who chose not to answer (7%).
Our employees represent a wide variety of ages, with staff member ages from 20 to 79 years:

  • 20-29 years: 14 staff (12%) 
  • 30-39 years: 39 staff (34%) 
  • 40-49 years: 20 staff (18%) 
  • 50-59 years: 20 staff (18%) 
  • 60-69 years: 14 staff (12%) 
  • 70-79 years: 7 staff (6%) 

More progress is still needed before our full-time staff, management and board better represent all of Vermont and our region.


Every piece of content that we create is a choice. Here are some of the questions we weigh when deciding whether to move forward with a story, and what shape it will take:

  • Impact: Who will this story serve? And how will it affect the people who participate in it? Do we need to take steps to minimize harm in our coverage? 
  • Relevance: Who is this story for? Given our broad coverage area, how applicable is this story to communities around the state and region? 
  • Timeliness: Is this something that our audience needs to know urgently? 
  • Prominence: Does this story revolve around elected officials or others in power who wield a high level of influence? 
  • Complexity and nuance: Is this a story that would benefit from multiple voices and perspectives? 
  • Representation: Will the diverse array of communities we cover be able to see or hear themselves in our work? How can we center voices that are often left out of coverage of this topic? 
  • Vermonters' curiosity, interest and need: We regularly invite our audience to participate in our news-making process. 

Here is a sample of how our efforts to represent and serve diverse communities showed up in our work in 2023-24:

Awards & Recognition

Vermont Public has been recognized for this approach to reporting. Among our awards this year:

Health & Safety Guidelines

Given Vermont’s high vaccination rate and declining hospitalization rates, proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result are no longer required when visiting Vermont Public’s facilities. Masks are encouraged but not required.

Masking is strongly encouraged for those who are not vaccinated, including those under the age of 5 years, individuals who have a weakened immune system, or those at increased risk for severe disease because of age or an underlying medical condition.

We are committed to maintaining a healthy and safe environment for our visitors and staff. If you or someone in your group doesn’t feel well, please stay home.

Our policies are subject to change as the pandemic evolves. We will continue to monitor guidelines from the CDC and State of Vermont’s Department of Health.

Event Accessibility

We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. Please inform us of any special accommodations you may require in order to participate in this event fully.