NPR made headlines Wednesday when it sent a memo to employees reminding them that they are not allowed to participate in the upcoming rallies in Washington, DC organized by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
"NPR journalists may not participate in marches and rallies involving causes or issues that NPR covers, nor should they sign petitions or otherwise lend their name to such causes, or contribute money to them. This restriction applies to the upcoming Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert rallies," Senior Vice President for News Ellen Weiss said in a memo to employees Wednesday morning.
NPR isn't alone. A survey of other news organizations reveals that most organizations prohibit employees from participating in rallies, and most are applying those restrictions to the Stewart and Colbert rallies.
The Washington Post, for instance, says that newsroom employees cannot "participate" in the rally, but permits "observing...watching and listening from the sidelines." The Wall Street Journal did not specifically come down either way, saying merely, "We expect our people to exercise good judgement." The New York Times said it views the rallies "at least in part as political events (despite the comic/satirical elements)."
Below, see several organizations' responses to questions on the matter.
"We have a similar policy, as I expect you'll find at most news organizations."
"NBC News prohibits employees who function in an editorial role from participating at partisan events, however on a case by case basis we have permitted MSNBC hosts to participate in such events."
"News employees don't participate in political activity, including rallies."
"CNN prohibits employees from participating in political rallies, partisan events or fundraisers or donating to political candidates or political parties."
"Our standards speak for themselves. Most AP reporters would know not to attend [the Stewart and Colbert rallies]."
Editorial employees are expected to be scrupulous in avoiding any political activity, whether they cover politics regularly or not. They may not run for political office or accept political appointment; nor may they perform public relations work for politicians or their groups. Under no circumstances should they donate money to political organizations or political campaigns. They should use great discretion in joining or making contributions to other organizations that may take political stands.
Non-editorial employees must refrain from political activity unless they obtain approval from a manager.
When in doubt, staffers are encouraged to discuss any such concerns with their supervisors. And a supervisor must be informed when a spouse -- or other members of an employee's household -- has any ongoing involvement in political causes, either professionally or personally.
New York Times
"We would view these at least in part as political events (despite the comic/satirical elements) and would treat them under our guidelines that advise staffers to avoid such events if they could raise any questions about our impartiality (below).
Staff members may not march or rally in support of public causes or movements, sign ads taking a position on public issues, or lend their name to campaigns, benefit dinners or similar events if doing so might reasonably raise doubts about their ability or The Times's ability to function as neutral observers in covering the news."
Wall Street Journal
"We expect our people to exercise good judgement regarding whether attending poses a conflict or the appearance of one."
Washington Post (the following was sent to newsroom managers Thursday morning):
Events, like those organized by Glenn Beck or involving Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, are political, and therefore Post newsroom employees may not participate. By participate, we mean that Post newsroom employees cannot in any way put themselves in a position that could be construed as supporting (or opposing) that cause. That means no T-shirts, buttons, marching, chanting, etc. This guideline does not prohibit Post newsroom employees from observing--that is, watching and listening from the sidelines. The important thing is that it should be evident to anyone that you are observing, as journalists do, not participating, whether you are covering the event or not.
"POLITICO staffers do not attend any rally or event that could be construed as partisan and that policy would include these events."
The Daily Caller
"Our reporters don't need mommy and daddy's permission to go to the zoo."
Fox News has not yet responded to requests for comment.
The Huffington Post is sponsoring buses for attendees from New York to Washington for the October 30 events.