KQED Code of EthicsKQED Code of Ethics


At KQED, we practice journalism in the public service. Journalism is a cornerstone of our imperfect democracy and the unfulfilled promise that all people are created equal and deserving of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, equal justice under the law and opportunity for all. We recognize that journalists, like all people, have implicit and explicit biases and that we operate in a society founded on white supremacy, which requires us to constantly examine ourselves and our decisions as we work to eliminate these influences.

As journalists and documentarians, our job is to chronicle history, question the status quo and investigate injustice. In the pursuit of those values, we must hold people, systems and institutions accountable to the public interest. We are committed to practicing accountability journalism and to reporting the truth in accordance with our core values including independence, accuracy, fairness, transparency, and context.

We also subscribe to ​Oakland Tribune​ owner and publisher Robert C. Maynard’s theory that human beings are not objective — we are shaped by our lived experiences, and it’s important to understand them and how they shape the lens through which we view the world. That is why journalism is not a static procedure but rather an investigative and evolving practice, where we are called upon to tell the layered truths we uncover.

At KQED, our independence as a community institution is critical to public trust. We are supported by members. We are responsible stewards of our funds and resources, and we are not beholden to a profit motive. We exist to serve our community.​ ​In order to do that, KQED relies on its journalists and content creators to be trusted members of the community, with human perspectives, and who are able to practice empathy and understanding of those with whom they disagree. In order to maintain the public trust, KQED expects its journalists and content creators to act and behave in a manner that preserves our independence and integrity in all situations.

To best serve our audience and democracy, KQED will assemble and support a newsroom that reflects the diversity of the Bay Area by embracing best practices for maintaining and preserving both an equitable and inclusive workplace.

Holly Kernan, Chief Content Officer

Code of Ethics

We have an obligation to be transparent in our methods of newsgathering and practice of ethics, to acknowledge mistakes and correct them and to avoid conflicts of interest. It is also important that we uphold standards consistent with NPR and PBS.

The Code of Ethics Guidelines apply to all Editorial/Content Staff at KQED, as well as the President and CEO and the senior leadership team (collectively referred to throughout these Guidelines as “Editorial/Content Staff”); in their public life, they must refrain from activities that might compromise KQED’s editorial independence and integrity.

All staff are required to comply with the ​Conflict of Interest chapter ​of the KQED Employee Policy Manual, as well as any applicable policies that may be adapted subsequent to the effective date of this Code. To the extent the provisions of these Guidelines establish stricter standards, Editorial/Content staff are expected to abide by the standards set forth in this Code.

Editorial/Content Staff shall avoid activities, including social media postings, that would give rise to conflicts of interest, real or perceived, with the programming and services of KQED. Examples of potential conflicts of interest include:

  •  Political Activities. Editorial/Content Staff should avoid situations that would call into question their ability or perception of their ability to be fair in coverage of politics, government and democracy. The Code of Ethics Guidelines are not intended to discourage Editorial/Content Staff from expressing their views at the ballot box. In fact, KQED encourages civic engagement, and specifically voting, for its employees and in its journalistic coverage. Voting is fundamental to a functioning democracy, a necessary engagement to inform how our representatives lead and govern. Editorial/Content Staff may not, for example, contribute to electoral candidates or electoral campaigns, or serve in a publicly elected office.
  • Outside activities. Editorial/Content Staff who are deciding whether or how to participate in activities should aim to preserve their own and KQED’s integrity, as well as the perception of their ability to be a fair and credible journalist on a particular issue. This standard should be used to decide, for instance, whether to participate in a march or rally, or whether to provide time or money to a group or cause. In most cases, the clear answer will be to refrain from participation. If in doubt, or to seek clarification, the Editorial/Content Staff member should discuss the activity with their department head in advance of a particular activity.
  • Associations. KQED does not seek to restrict Editorial/Content Staff from participating in community, labor, civic or professional affairs organizations. However, Editorial/Content Staff shall exercise care to remain free of associations and activities that may compromise KQED’s integrity or damage its credibility. For example, Editorial/Content Staff should not sit on the boards of organizations that are engaged in significant lobbying or political activity. We acknowledge that what is considered significant may fluctuate and should be discussed between Editorial/Content staff and their department head. Editorial/Content Staff should disclose to their department head their membership in any organizations where there is a likelihood that service will create an actual conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest concerning an issue the Editorial/Content Staff member is working on. In all cases, transparency with the public should be a priority.
  • Acceptance of Gifts and Gratuities. To avoid the appearance of conflicts, Editorial/Content Staff shall not accept or solicit business-connected gifts or free services from vendors or news and content sources, with the exception of nominal or professional courtesies, such as access to an event for journalistic purposes or books to review. Other items received should be politely returned. Travel reimbursement for KQED-related and approved business by an outside organization may be acceptable in certain cases.
  • Outside Employment. Editorial/Content Staff may not engage in outside employment that would create a conflict of interest. Any employment outside KQED must be approved in advance and in writing by the staff member’s department head.
  • Speeches and Presentations. Editorial/Content Staff who have been asked to make a speech or presentation (outside the normal course of KQED hosted or planned activities) should obtain prior approval from their department head. Such approval will not be unreasonably withheld. Any honoraria should be disclosed and agreed upon by the staff member’s department head.
  • Commercial Endorsements. Editorial/Content Staff may not formally endorse commercial products, companies or services, whether or not payment is received.Editorial/Content staff that have any question regarding a potential conflict should disclose the issue to their department head in advance. In all cases, transparency with the public should be a priority.In addition, KQED adheres to​ ​The Public Media Code of Integrity​, which 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. KQED is also a member of the​ ​Society for Professional Journalists​.

Last updated 2020.