Public media, ethics and integrity

I had a pang of sadness and nostalgia recently when I read that the Helena Rubinstein Foundation would soon be closing its doors and ceasing operations.  You see, growing up in the seventies in suburban New Jersey, the Helena Rubinstein Foundation was the one and only foundation that ever crossed my conscientious because Helen Rubinstein was recognized on Channel 13, my local public television station as the underwriter of Sesame Street and other children’s shows.   I wasn’t aware of any other philanthropic organizations at that time, and have to admit that I could mimic the announcer’s voice stating that the show was underwritten by the foundation and often did so by sheer force of habit!

This issue has been even more timely to me personally as I was recently asked to participate in a terrific program sponsored by Editorial Integrity for Public Media as a representative of the Standards for Excellence Institute.  Editorial Integrity for Public Media is a joint initiative of public broadcasting Affinity Group Coalition the National Educational Telecommunications Association, and the Station Resource Group.

The group, which gathered local and national leaders in public radio, public television, and journalism, gathered in October in Madison, Wisconsin.  The group’s charge was to serve as a Roundtable Discussion of Emerging Recommendations for Principles, Policies and Practices. What an incredible group of experts!   In their discussions of Principles for Public Media, Developing a Code of Transparency, and the like, it struck me that the ethical topics and issues addressed by public broadcasting leaders are not unlike the ethical issues that nonprofit leaders across the board grapple with as they deliver services and strengthen our communities.  Conflicts of interest and transparency (just to mention a few!) were and continue to be issues of paramount concern.

For nonprofit leaders interested in getting resources and assistance for their own organizations in these areas, there is no need to look any further than the Standards for Excellence Institute.  Members of the Standards for Excellence Institute have free access to educational resource packets on subjects like Conflicts of Interest and Openness with models and samples than can be used right away.  The resources can help nonprofits interested in setting up their first conflict of interest policy or interested in strengthening a policy they already have in place. The resources can also pinpoint the items that nonprofits should be sure to include in their organization’s annual report.  To access these resources, click here.

For more information on joining the Standards for Excellence Institute, please click here.


About Amy Coates Madsen

Amy Coates Madsen serves as the Program Director of the Standards for Excellence Institute.
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