Policies & Practices
The following policies are on this page:
- The Public Media Code Of Integrity
- Editorial Policy
- Programming Policy
- Classical's Mission and Programming Philosophy
- Diversity Statement
- Ethics and Conduct Policy
- Health & Safety Guidelines
Other reports and info:
The Public Media Code Of IntegrityVermont Public supports the Public Media Code of Integrity, a national code which describes our commitment to trust and integrity in public media.
Public broadcasters have adopted shared principles to strengthen the trust and integrity that communities expect of valued public service institutions.
Public media organizations contribute to a strong civil society and active community life, provide access to knowledge and culture, extend education, and offer varied viewpoints and sensibilities.
The freedom of public media professionals to make editorial decisions without undue influence is essential. It is rooted in America's commitment to free speech and a free press. It is reflected in the unique and critical media roles that federal, state, and local leaders have encouraged and respected across the years. It is affirmed by the courts.
Trust is equally fundamental. Public media organizations create and reinforce trust through rigorous, voluntary standards for the integrity of programming and services, fundraising, community interactions, and organizational governance.
These standards of integrity apply to all the content public media organizations produce and present, regardless of subject matter, including news, science, history, information, music, arts, and culture. These standards apply across all public media channels and platforms — broadcasting, online, social media, print, media devices, and in-person events.
Public media, individually and collectively:
- Contribute to communities' civic, educational, and cultural life by presenting a range of ideas and cultures and offering a robust forum for discussion and debate.
- Commit to accuracy and integrity in the pursuit of facts about events, issues, and important matters that affect communities and people's lives.
- Pursue fairness and responsiveness in content and services, with particular attention to reflecting diversity of demography, culture, and beliefs.
- Aim for transparency in news gathering, reporting, and other content creation and share the reasons for important editorial and programming choices.
- Protect the editorial process from the fact and appearance of undue influence, exercising care in seeking and accepting funds and setting careful boundaries between contributors and content creators.
- Encourage understanding of fundraising operations and practices, acknowledge program sponsors, and disclose content-related terms of sponsor support.
- Maintain respectful and accountable relationships with individual and organizational contributors.
- Seek editorial partnerships and collaborations to enhance capacity, perspective, timeliness, and relevance and apply public media standards to these arrangements.
- Expect employees to uphold public media's integrity in their personal as well as their professional lives, understanding that employee actions, even when "off the clock," affect trust, integrity, credibility, and impartiality.
- Promote the common good, the public interest, and these commitments to integrity and trustworthiness in organizational governance, leadership, and management.
The Public Media Code of Integrity was developed by the Affinity Group Coalition and the Station Resource Group, collectively representing public television and radio stations and service organizations from across the country, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Editorial policyVermont Public is an essential regional news source that provides coverage of developing news, an overview of regional news, and in-depth reporting. It informs and educates listeners with breaking stories, features, interviews and call-in programs. As a member station, Vermont Public complements the extensive resources of National Public Radio, which provides coverage of national and world events and issues. Through this unique medium, the station reflects the diverse voices of the region.
Vermont Public is an independent and non-partisan news organization that subscribes to the highest standards of journalism. The public radio journalism guidebook "Independence and Integrity" summarizes our goals eloquently: "Reporting that is fair, accurate and balanced is true to the ideals of journalism. Such reporting filters out bias in the traditional spirit of objectivity, while allowing reporters to apply their personal insights and engagement with the issues they cover. It results in the healthy skepticism, tempered by the positive pursuit of truth that marks the best journalists."
Story selection is determined by a number of factors, including public service, a system of topical coverage, news value, geographic balance, listener interest, and commitment to diversity.
To maintain its independence and integrity, which is paramount, Vermont Public has established a firewall so that news from Vermont Public is free from influence to select and report the news fairly and accurately.
Vermont Public utilizes the codes of ethics of NPR, Public Radio News Directors Inc., the Radio-Television News Directors Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists.
Vermont Public news stories and programs advance no political point of view. This standard also applies to talk shows, where Vermont Public believes that the public trust is best served with a non-partisan host, who is a professional journalist and whose goal it is to shine a bright light on important topics of the day. Vermont Public supports energetic examination of issues, robust questioning and balance.
News from Vermont Public attempts to provide an intelligent approach to news, talk shows and opinion. Ultimately, Vermont Public recognizes that in reporting the news there is more than one side to any story, and listeners expect that Vermont Public, as a public radio station, will always strive for an honest and accurate presentation of the facts in every circumstance.
Programming policyAs 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 philosophyVermont 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 December 2022)
Vermont Public aspires to engage a broader and more diverse audience through stories that bring people together. To achieve this mission, we seek to reflect and include all the communities we serve in our content, services and organization.
Vermont Public believes in the inherent worth and dignity of all people. We value all the characteristics and experiences that make each of us unique, including age, race, ethnicity, language, neurodiversity, physical and mental difference, religion, national origin, geography, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, marital status, military or veteran status, educational attainment, socioeconomic status, political views, life experiences and more.
Through our example and our work, we seek to dismantle the systems of oppression that prevent us from becoming a more equitable society. In particular, anti-racism is an important core value of our organization, because of the insidious nature of racism in America and the connections between fighting racism and other forms of oppression.
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.
By itself, representation of difference among staff and leadership is not enough, yet it is a necessary precondition for change. Over the past two years, Vermont Public has improved racial and ethnic diversity among staff. More progress is still needed before our full-time staff, management and board better represent all of Vermont and our region.
As of October 2022, 10.6 percent of Vermont Public staff identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). That compares to 10.2 percent of Vermont’s population who are Black, Asian, Hispanic, American Indian, more than one race or some other race, according to the U.S. Census.
Our staff included 113 employees: 98 full-time and 15 part-time. 97 were white, non-Hispanic employees and 12 identified as Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC). Four preferred not to answer.
- The 10.6 percent of our staff identifying as BIPOC is an increase from 7 percent in 2020, and represents 8 percent of full-time employees
- 4 percent of all managers identify as BIPOC, compared to 0 percent in 2020
- 6 percent of members of our Board of Directors identify as BIPOC, compared to 6 percent in 2020
Because Vermont’s BIPOC population is growing rapidly, our goal is to become a staff, management and board that reflects the anticipated racial and ethnic diversity of Vermont in 2030. Based on previous growth, we estimate that to be at least 15 percent Black, Indigenous and People of Color - as quickly as possible.
On gender, our employees include 65 women and 47 men (58% female/42% male) and one who preferred not to answer.
Our employees represent a wide variety of ages, with staff member ages from 20 to 79 years:
- 20-29 years: 15 staff
- 30-39 years: 31 staff
- 40-49 years: 20 staff
- 50-59 years: 24 staff
- 60-69 years: 16 staff
- 70-79 years: 7 staff
Vermont Public is a signatory to Public Media for All, an initiative designed to challenge our organizations to take specific actions. Some of those action items we have completed this year include:
- A comprehensive pay equity review by an outside firm, leading to salary adjustments to remedy inequities found
- A staff that better reflects Vermont’s rapidly-growing Global Majority population
- A regular, anonymous staff survey where diversity, equity and inclusion are a major focus
- A staff committee focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion that makes recommendations and helps hold leadership accountable
- Regular training and discussions by all staff on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, including three mandatory all-staff trainings
- Paid internship program
In our organization’s content, we aim for more people to see and hear themselves reflected in and part of our work. Our 10-part series Homegoings highlighted conversations with musicians of color about Black grief, resilience and music.
In March of 2021, we launched our source tracking project to record demographic information for people interviewed by our news staff. We currently track sources for all members of the newsroom, including our feature stories, interviews and Brave Little State episodes. (One early finding is that a majority of our sources have higher levels of education.)
In May 2021, we hired our first news fellow. The two-year position creates a new pathway into our organization for an early career journalist and is meant to bring in new perspectives.
We also are committed to passing the mic and camera to more diverse storytellers through our new Made Here Fund, which will award a total of $100,000 to chosen applicants. To advance equity in public media, Vermont Public will help fund and distribute the work created by fund recipients, with priority given to creators who are part of the BIPOC community, and/or under the age of 30, and/or located in rural areas.
In the coming year, Vermont Public plans to improve the racial and ethnic diversity of its management and board of directors through better recruitment. We also plan to share results of our content tracking with all staff, the board and the public.
Our stories, music and educational content help people understand and respect one another, despite our differences. This makes Vermont and our region a better place to live - more interesting, enjoyable, and just.
Ethics & conduct policyUpdated May 2019
Vermont Public holds the public's trust as a news source, and as an integral community and cultural institution in the region. Employees are the backbone of Vermont Public's public service, and their personal and professional excellence contributes to Vermont Public's reputation.
We expect and even encourage our staff to lead active lives outside of work, filled with diverse interests, activities and relationships. We are mindful, though, that employees’ activities beyond their work at Vermont Public can affect our reputation and public trust. We therefore ask employees to integrate the principles and values of public media editorial integrity into their public behavior even when “off the clock.”
While we encourage employees to be active members of their communities, they should not engage in an outside activity if it conflicts with his or her responsibilities at Vermont Public. When it appears that a conflict may arise between the personal interests of a staff member and his or her responsibilities to Vermont Public, the staff member should notify their supervisor.
Who is covered
This Code applies to all full- and part-time Vermont Public employees. Depending on an employee’s specific role at Vermont Public, there may be additional standards that govern his or her conduct, such as our editorial policy and the Donor Bill Of Rights. Those standards will be communicated to affected employees by their supervisors or department heads.
“Outward Facing Employees” (OFEs) are those whose work sometimes puts them in the position of representing Vermont Public to the outside world. An OFE should adhere to the same guidelines that our journalists and news staff follow, unless the OFE receives prior written approval from the OFE’s direct supervisor after receiving guidance from news leadership. The determination of whether an employee is an OFE will be made by the OFE’s supervisor, in consultation with the OFE’s Leadership Team member and the President & CEO. The OFE’s status could change if the OFE’s position or duties within the organization change (see below section on “Political activity and contributions.”)
All Vermont Public employees should:
- Read and understand the Public Media Code Of Integrity.
- Aspire to high standards of integrity and ethics in their lives outside of work, including dealings with friends and associates, public behavior and use of social media.
- Be alert and sensitive to conflicts of interest between personal interests and their professional public media responsibility.
- Exercise careful judgment about, limit, and in some cases forego, engaging in partisan activities or advocacy regarding controversial issues of public importance.
This code in practice: Communicate, consult, collaborate
This code is meant to provide guidance, but it is no substitute for open communication. We encourage questions — answers aren’t always self-evident. Consultation and collaboration make us better at what we do.
If you are confronted with an ethical question or issue that warrants the input of another, talk with your supervisor. If there’s any question of whether the matter should be brought to the attention of others, supervisors will err on the side of caution and reach out to a member of Vermont Public's Leadership Team. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable discussing a matter with your supervisor, talk to a member of Vermont Public's Leadership Team.
Cultivating a “culture of journalism”
We are living in a time of heightened political awareness and activity, and we’re seeing politics come up in more issues than ever before. We understand the urge to stand up for what you believe or do something — anything — to help make the world feel less divided and tumultuous. But it’s important to remember that your work for a public media organization is already an extraordinary civic service. We encourage all Vermont Public employees to view their work in public media as what NPR’s Standards and Practices editor, Mark Memmott, calls “enhanced citizenship.” Any U.S. citizen has the right to vote, donate or march. But not everyone has the opportunity to work for a news organization that informs, educates, and improves civic dialog. If we do our job right, we’re getting people the information they need to make decisions about the issues of the day — and that in and of itself is “doing something” and making a difference every day.
Political activity and contributions
Journalists and news staff should not engage in any political activity, sign petitions, run for political office, volunteer for a campaign, make donations to campaigns or advocacy/lobbying organizations, engage in social media use for political purposes or otherwise advocate for a candidate or cause. In general, OFEs should follow the above guidelines, but may be allowed to be involved in local groups and even some non-partisan elected offices on a case-by-case basis (see above guidance about “Who is covered?”)
If at any time you believe an activity you’re involved in could affect people's perception of Vermont Public as a non-partisan organization dedicated to the values of journalism, please inform your supervisor and/or a member of the Leadership Team.
On Vermont Public premises, all employees should refrain from political activity that endorses or opposes a specific candidate, party or cause. This extends to all means of visible support or opposition, including signs or posters, clothing or hats, bumper stickers or signs in or on cars in the Vermont Public parking lot, emails on Vermont Public computers or through Vermont Public servers, and the like. Vermont Public employees’ work time and resources should not be used in furthering an employee’s personal political activities or interests.
Any employee who does engage in political activity (meaning they do not fall into the categories above) should not use his or her affiliation with Vermont Public in any way that would be misleading or falsely create an impression of endorsement of any political position by Vermont Public. Employees may not reference their affiliation with Vermont Public or any of its programs in any public political statement. In any personal political activity, it must be clear that the employee is acting individually and not on behalf of Vermont Public.
NPR answers questions about family members well, so we’ve adopted their language below:
"Some of our family members — including spouses, companions and children — may be involved in politics or advocacy. We are sensitive to the perception of bias. So we inform our supervisors and work with them to avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interest.
"NPR journalists recuse themselves from covering stories or events related to their family members’ political activities. We may go so far as to change job responsibilities (for instance, moving off the “politics desk” to an area of coverage well removed from that subject). “You have the right to marry anyone you want, but you don’t have the right to cover any beat you want” if the potential conflicts appear to be too great, as Tom Rosenstiel of Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism said to the Los Angeles Times."
Exercising your rights
Alongside our roles as employees of Vermont Public, we are all members of the public ourselves, with a stake in the future of our society and opinions about the direction it should take. Therefore, all employees can and should exercise our right to vote, and to contact our elected officials on individual matters about issues that affect our lives. Of course, we do not use our connection to Vermont Public to try to influence elected officials.
To vote in a Vermont primary, you must declare which party’s ballot you want. If you are a journalist, news staff or OFE and want to vote in a primary it is fine to do so, but not to take any other actions to affiliate yourself with that party, such as making donations, displaying bumper stickers, etc.
Rallies, marches and vigils
Journalists, news staff and OFEs may attend marches, rallies and public events involving political issues or partisan causes that Vermont Public covers or may cover, so long as they don’t participate. Of course, the distinction between being a participant and being an observer can be subtle. Waving a picket sign or joining along in a cheer would be inappropriate. Again, we rely on your good judgment.
Since the nature of each event differs, it’s wise to discuss these matters ahead of time with your supervisor to figure out where ethical pressure points may exist or emerge. If attending such an event as an observer, take care in behavior, comments, attire and physical location not to reflect a participatory role.
The question will be asked: “If I am not an OFE, can I attend and participate in this or any other ‘political’ march?” We can’t give an answer that would cover everyone and every eventuality. The best advice is to discuss it beforehand with your supervisor.
Staff are permitted to attend candlelight vigils, such as ones that pop up in support of a tragedy, but should refrain from wearing Vermont Public branded items or being interviewed by other local media.
Vermont is filled with community groups and fundraising events. Vermont Public is often asked to participate as an organization or to send a well-known host or reporter to participate. Even if not, employees may be inclined to participate on their own. We ask our journalists, news staff and OFEs to exercise caution before participating.
We are generally wary of supporting causes, in part because we don’t want to appear biased, and also because we’d likely have to cover those causes at some point. We’re also wary of charities. If we pick one over the other, what message does that send? That said, supporting cultural, educational or First Amendment-focused institutions is likely OK, but check with your supervisor to be sure. The same goes for showing even indirect support for providing food assistance or helping the homeless. Supporting a group with more partisan leanings isn’t appropriate. Again, check with your supervisor to be safe.
Internet and social media use
We ask all employees to conduct themselves online just as they would in any other public setting as a Vermont Public employee — with fairness, honesty and respect, and uphold the following principles:
- Exercise good judgment in what they say or express in online forums, keeping in mind that everything posted online is essentially public, even when privacy settings are in place. Good judgment means not posting inappropriate or politically-charged material, for example.
- Verify information before passing it along.
- Use of social media during work hours should be limited to professional use and reasonable, limited personal use, providing it does not interfere with work responsibilities.
If you are a journalist, news staff or OFE, keep in mind that what you tweet or post is going to be perceived as coming "from" Vermont Public. Tweet and post as if what you’re saying or passing along is information that you would put on the air or on vermontpublic.org. If it needs context, attribution or clarification, provide it.
Even if you’re not posting overtly political things on social media, we know it’s tempting to like, favorite or comment on your friends’ political posts. Please exercise good judgment when it comes to this and assume that it holds the same weight as a post you write yourself.
Outside employment, honoraria, talent fees and gifts
All employees of Vermont Public should be familiar with Vermont Public's policies on outside employment, honoraria, talent fees and gifts, which can be found in the Employee Information Guide.
Personal gain associated with Vermont Public employment
All employees should not use their position as a Vermont Public staffer or Vermont Public property to gain or attempt to gain anything of substantial value for private benefit.
All employees should not solicit or accept from any person or organization anything of value in exchange for express or implied understanding that their conduct of Vermont Public business would be influenced thereby. Employees may not intentionally use or disclose confidential Vermont Public information in any way that could result in the receipt of anything of value for themselves, their families or an organization with which the staff member is associated. Nominal gifts (such as coffee mugs, T-shirts and books) may be accepted as long as it does not impact any action or decision.
Putting this policy into practice
We will fulfill the high standard we owe the public if we hold true to our policies and principles. Doing so requires that we embrace complexity and continually think through difficult decisions. This policy is intended not only to serve as a guide, but also to provoke ongoing discussion and deliberation — the keys to any ethical decision-making process. It should both test and strengthen the moral compass that guides each of us in our work. It aims to foster a culture that compels and empowers us to exercise our consciences each day. We believe it is our shared responsibility to live up to these principles.
Portions of this policy have been adapted & lifted from NPR’s ethics policy, and informed by conversations with our colleagues at member stations.
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.
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.