Manage Network Story Assignments

Ideally, you’d see it as part of your mission to file stories with NPR, Marketplace or other national or regional networks on your air.

There are many positive benefits in it:

  • your station receives wider audience recognition,
  • your station’s work is credentialed as network quality,
  • your newsroom grows its editorial linkages with the network,
  • your reporter gains experience,
  • your reporter earns some extra money.

But here are some of the issues that arise over network story assignments. The reporter may expect to work on station time or use station resources. The station may object to the extra reporter earnings or wish to control some aspect of the assignment.

In most cases, a simple policy can be adopted that extols the virtues of partnering with the network while establishing some respectful boundaries for all the parties.

So here are the tenets of a “shared work policy” that solves some of these matters:

A. The “shared work” policy is designed to maximize public service to station XXXX listeners.
B. Under the policy, the station news director may authorize reporters to work with an outside editor — on station work hours — to provide shared coverage when certain conditions are met.
C. These conditions are 1) The report is original (not a reversion), 2) The reporter’s time commitment is consistent with time typically allotted for an XXXX story, and 3) The reporter does not incur overtime.
D. The station reporter may accept the customary “filing fee” as an offset to extra work required.
E. If a reporter has already done a story on station XXXX and then pitches it to an outside editor, it does not qualify for this shared work policy. However, as an incentive to encourage wider distribution of station stories (for many of the same benefits mentioned above), reporters can reversion the local story on their own time, while using station XXXX facilities. The reporter may accept a filing fee for a re-versioned story to compensate for the personal time required.
F. Any public radio network or program that is not carried on station XXXX cannot share the reportorial resources of the station under this policy. Should a reporter wish to file a story for that other entity, the reporter may discuss with the News Director the option of doing the assignment for station XXXX first — then re-version the story on his/her own time.
G. At no time should a station reporter use XXXX time or XXXX facilities for personal purposes.

As you can see, this policy encourages the best kind of network assignment — one that hasn’t aired on your station yet. When it does air, it will be in a network news slot, which should be welcomed by you. Though the network technically owns the rights to the work, it is customary to treat the rights as shared allowing you the right to air the work again in another slot if you choose. However, should you wish to distribute the work on other platforms or submit it in an awards program, you should check with the network first.

Also, note that the News Director must authorize the network assignment. It is generally unacceptable for a station reporter to proceed on a network assignment without ND approval.