University Station Alliance

Linking public broadcasting stations and their university partners since 2001

Assessment Tool for Organizational Integrity

Integrity standards must be established, maintained, & protected.

This is an attempt to provide a tool that allows self-study that leads to public media leaders and, by extension, their staffs, to understand where they are in addressing the evolving myriad of issues that are challenging public media today. An Organizational Integrity Review involves the staff and all the important stake-holders at each respective Public Media entity. The more work accomplished by the local staff and stake-holders, the more successful the process will be. This was developed by the USA in cooperation with the Editorial Integrity Project

TRUST is what public media organizations are built on.

TRUSTWORTHYNESS must be protected in a constantly changing environment.


Why Renewed Attention to Trust and Ethics

  • With continued support from the federal government brings a level of scrutiny that requires proactive ethics policies.
  • Changing funding models and methods bring a heightened level of scrutiny.
  • Social media opens organizations up to challenges to traditional understandings of ethical behavior.
  • We need to be poised to address the very real challenges and threats in our changing landscape.

Using the Assessment Template

The template includes:

  • benchmark(s)
  • a list of assessment statements that can be ranked on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being “this is never the case” to 5 being “this is always the case” (this could be converted to a checklist), and
  • a list of supporting documents to be compiled

Organizational Integrity


  • The station governs activities in ways that promote the common good and the public interest and that reflect the commitment to integrity and trustworthiness. These obligations supersede personal and institutional agendas.
  • The station supports transparency in program selection, content creation, fundraising activities, and collaborations.

Assessment Statements:

Rank each statement on a scale from 1 to 5. 1 = This is never the case. 5 = This is always the case.  Staff  Board  Licensee
The station contributes to the civic, educational, and cultural life of our communities by presenting a range of ideas and cultures and offering a robust forum for discussion and debate.   
The station reports events and issues with accuracy and integrity.   
There is inclusion and reflection of our communities’ diversity.   
News goals are clearly articulated and appropriate to the mission, audience and resources.   
News coverage is fair, unbiased, accurate, complete and honest.   
There are consistent editorial standards in partnerships and collaborations.   
There is transparency in our fundraising.   
We take care in deciding from whom we seek and accept funds and in setting boundaries with respect to those who contribute.   
The station follows generally accepted accounting procedures and complies with all applicable laws, regulations, and Federal Communications Commission requirements.   
Resources are developed, managed, and allocated in a manner that advances the station’s mission and sustains its financial viability.   
Rank each statement on a scale from 1 to 5. 1 = This is never the case. 5 = This is always the case.  Staff  Board  Licensee
Human Resources   
The station’s staff and volunteers have the appropriate education, training, experience, and support to accomplish their work.   
Staffing is adequate to meet work expectations and needs.   
We expect employees to uphold our integrity in their personal as well as their professional lives.   
There is inclusion and reflection of our communities’ diversity.   
Programming & Public Service   
There is transparency in program selection and content creation.   
Public service and programs extend the station’s capacity to provide quality life-long learning experience for the public.   
Continuous evaluation ensures the relevancy and viability of all program offerings serving the public interests and needs.   
The station complies with federal and state laws and FCC regulations regarding full disclosure of payments, services or other valuable considerations provided in exchange for music airplay.   
Social Media   
The station’s outstanding reputation and brand is a direct result of the employees and their commitment to uphold community values of Fairness, Respect, Honesty, Trust, and Integrity.   
Employees always ensure that the business information contained in Internet email messages and other transmissions is accurate, appropriate, ethical, and lawful.   
The station has a clear sense of mission around which its staff, board, licensee, financial resources, and activities are focused.   
The station operates from a firm foundation of carefully conceived and regularly revisited bylaws and related core documents.   
The staff, board, and licensee have a clear and shared understanding of their roles and responsibilities, and a commitment to the mission of the station and licensee.   

Supporting Documents


  • Station Mission Statement, Goals and Objectives, date created or last reviewed
  • Bylaws
  • Code of Ethics Policy
  • Conflict of Interest Policy/Statements


  • News and Information Code of Ethics and Practices
  • “Statement of Integrity” – The independence of the news department should reflect that it is seen as fair and impartial. A firewall should be in place protecting news and programming independence from outside influences including the licensee’s administration and governing body. The licensee and station administrators should have a clear and shared understanding of their roles and responsibilities.
  • Policy for Personal Gain, Gifts, Freebies, Loaned Equipment or Merchandise, etc.
  • Politics, Community and Outside Activities Policy
  • Policy on Underwriting; Foundation Grants; Advertising, Marketing and Promotion; Board-Staff Interactions
  • Application and Enforcement of this Code


  • Gift Acceptance Policy
  • Major and Planned Gift Acceptance Policy
  • Underwriting Policy
  • Business Plan
  • Annual Report
  • Capital Improvement Case Statement

Human Resources:

  • Staff Handbook or Policy Manual
  • Volunteer Policy

Social Media:

  • Social Media Policy and Guidelines

Programming & Public Service:

  • New Programming Evaluation Guidelines
  • Public Service (PSA) Guidelines
  • Policy for Personal Gain, Gifts, Freebies, Loaned Equipment or Merchandise (Payola – services or other valuable consideration provided in exchange for music airplay. Plugola – a station personality’s promotion of non-broadcast activities).