In covering the news, on both broadcast and digital platforms, the company practices strong journalistic standards. While the company cannot reduce legal risks entirely, being fair, accurate, and attributing sources, will minimize the likelihood the company will be found liable for defamation. Truth is a complete defense in defamation cases, which is why accuracy is paramount in all news coverage. Using reliable sources and accurately quoting official sources and documents minimizes the company’s risk. The company also has a strong policy on corrections and retractions. When the need arises to issue a correction, it is done so promptly and is given the same prominent position as the original reporting.
Nexstar Media Group, Inc., has written policies regarding news guidelines which are reviewed and adhered to by all employees who manage content. The policies and guidelines are accessible through a document shared digitally with all News Directors. The News Directors also have immediate access to the corporate team of journalists, as well as a strong legal team standing by to support their efforts in news, promotion, personnel and more.
The News Directors at our TV stations have oversight regarding the accuracy of all news stories. He or she must approve any story that may contain questionable content. With all questionable stories, the News Director is expected to communicate to the corporate team of journalists, our Directors of Local Content Development, who oversee their local operation. The Director of Local Content Development will determine if Nexstar’s legal team must also be consulted on the story.
News directors are responsible for instilling quality control standards within their staff and implementing workflows and content management procedures that ensure proper editorial oversight of broadcast and digital staff, including those posting content to core digital platforms and social media. Each script written for broadcast or posted to the local digital platform undergoes the same rigorous approval standards. The editorial process includes:
- Double checking facts, names and spelling.
- Making sure the video matches the scripts.
- Flagging stories in the daily editorial meetings which might present a problem and provide extra diligence to editorial oversight.
- The company’s content review policy requires two pair of eyes review every script and video. The “second set of eyes” rule includes access to all necessary source material and information.
- Strive to be accurate first.
This policy also covers the production of special content or events outside of regularly scheduled newscasts. At least one individual in a leadership position at the television station must approve the product. This includes weekly sports programs, political shows, and locally-produced specials.
Involvement in Politics
Nexstar journalists at all levels must maintain editorial independence. We follow the Radio Television Digital News Association Code of Ethics.
The Code of Ethics reads, in part:
“…political activity and active advocacy can undercut the real or perceived independence of those who practice journalism. Journalists do not give up the rights of citizenship, but their public exercise of those rights can call into question their impartiality.”
Nexstar journalists should not raise money for, or donate money to, political campaigns or political organizations that take a stand.
(Note: Nexstar Media Group, Inc.’s corporate political action committee (“The Nexstar PAC”) solicits and accepts donations only from the company’s corporate officers, directors, and executive leadership team. The Nexstar PAC does not solicit, nor does it accept, contributions from Nexstar’s journalists or news personnel.)
The company adheres to the guidelines set forth in the Radio Television Digital News Association Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct regarding third-party video. RTDNA guidelines state that professional electronic journalists should clearly disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by outsiders. This is also an FCC requirement. The News Director must also carefully consider the station’s payola, plugola, and sponsorship ID obligations, before using video or audio provided by third parties.
Requests for Corrections/Retractions
If someone asks us to make a correction or retraction, we investigate the request carefully and with immediacy. If a news item needs to be corrected, we have guidelines and specific steps which must be taken:
- The correction must take place immediately, within the same newscast, if possible.
- If a mistake cannot be corrected within the body of the newscast in which it occurred, then it must be corrected in the next newscast to air and in the next day’s newscast in which the error occurred.
- Example: A factual error occurs in the 5 pm news and it is not caught before that broadcast ends. The correction should run in the next scheduled newscast, in this case most likely the 6 pm news. It should also run in the next day’s 5 pm newscast. This ensures prompt correction and correction targeted at the audience which initially heard the error.
- We always apologize for the error.
For digital errors we practice transparency and acknowledge the errors and make corrections. The error is corrected, and a note is included at the top of the digital story, in italics, acknowledging the correction. The error is never to be repeated within the correction.
- We also believe that all video to be broadcast needs to be seen by two people. The approval verification process is created in a newscast rundown and signed off on daily, using initials.
- This policy also covers the production of special shows. It’s critical that two sets of eyes view any special programming before they are given to master control for air. At least one individual in a leadership position must approve the production before it airs. This includes weekly sports programs, political shows, and locally-produced specials.