Our Duty to Our Staff and Volunteers

The Newsroom Equal Opportunity Policy

The KZUM newsroom upholds the current standards held throughout the rest of the organization.

Sunrise Communications and KZUM make every effort to employ individuals who are the most qualified and capable of serving our listeners. As an employer, KZUM is committed to providing equal opportunity for all throughout all aspects of the employment relationship (including hiring, training, promotions, working conditions, compensation, and benefits). We do not permit any discrimination based on race, color, national origin, citizenship status, religion, age, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, pregnancy, disability, or status as a disabled veteran.

Having healthy working conditions entails building an environment where our employees’ differences are valued. We want to empower all of our employees, encouraging them to contribute their unique perspectives and capabilities.

Additionally, KZUM will not permit any discrimination or prejudice to be shown by its employees to listeners, station volunteers, or other stakeholders under any circumstances. We pledge to build and maintain a safe environment for all, ensuring equitable access to our facilities and programs.

Identity-Based Assignment Restrictions

In accordance with our equal opportunity policy, KZUM does not have identity-based assignment restrictions within our newsroom. Assignment decisions are made solely based on the reporter’s skill level and capabilities. If a reporter is unable to manage their assignment then management reserves the right to reassign them to a different project.

Reporter Safety

We employ a zero-tolerance policy regarding any violence, harassment, threats, and/or discrimination our staff or volunteers may experience. Immediate threats to a reporter’s safety will be dealt with by law enforcement. Abusive messages will be investigated and the sender will be blocked. Depending on the nature of the message, law enforcement may be contacted.

Internship and Volunteer Programs

In addition to volunteer opportunities, KZUM offers grant-funded internships, internships in exchange for credit, and zero-credit internships.

The availability of paid internships depends on the number of grant-funded dollars received each year. As a result, there may be times when paid internships are unavailable or the number of paid internships may vary.

When paid internships are available, details of the internship are always clearly outlined in a contract. Details include the form of payment, payment amount, internship expectations, training requirements, and more. A copy of this contract is provided to both management and the intern.

All unpaid internships must meet the majority of the following requirements laid out by the Fair Labor Standards Act. These requirements include:

  • The intern and the employers clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee – and vice versa.
  • The internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.
  • The internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
  • The internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
  • The internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
  • The intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
  • The intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job after the internship has concluded.

Interns and volunteers are not required to have prior journalism experience. All applicants will receive training covering a broad range of subjects. These subjects include but are not limited to in-studio equipment training, journalism basics training, interview training, misinformation identification training, media law training, and self-defense training. In-studio equipment training may also be done with an experienced programmer who is not a member of the newsroom.

Volunteers and unpaid interns must complete a minimum of 1 hour each week. Interns receiving credit must meet the time requirements set by their institution, either on a weekly or a semester basis. Paid internships will have separate requirements outlined in the application process.

Source Handling

Source Treatment

KZUM treats all news sources fairly and with transparency. Staff, interns, and volunteers will not threaten damage to an uncooperative source nor will they use illegal actions to obtain or falsify information (including but not limited to breaking & entering, stealing, invading electronic devices, bribery, libel, defamation, etc). Additionally, members of the KZUM newsroom will not promise favorable coverage in exchange for cooperation. If an individual cannot be reached for a story, this must be made transparent to the public.

Staff members should always disclose their identity to the individuals they cover, though this isn’t necessarily required when seeking information normally available to the public or in situations where identities must be protected to maintain the impartiality of a review.

Single-Party Consent State

Nebraska is a single-party consent state. This means that the consent of only one party is needed to record a conversation. Despite this, newsroom staff are expected to only record conversations after obtaining the consent of all present parties. There are limited exceptions to this rule but might include emergencies where an individual might be required to gather evidence regarding a legal or safety concern. In such situations, the material will then be provided to the proper authorities.

Unidentified Sources or Utilizing Aliases

News staff, interns, and volunteers should never overlook the potential for legal problems or damage to their credibility when using unidentified sources or source aliases. Because of this, KZUM only utilizes unidentified sources or source aliases in situations that meet the majority of the following qualifications.

  • The information is particularly newsworthy.
  • The circumstances mean there is no other way to acquire the information provided by the individual.
  • The individual can provide some form of corroboration for their claims.
  • Going unidentified or using an alias will prevent humiliation, degradation, ostracization, or general havoc.
  • The source does not use anonymity or the use of an alias to make personal attacks or utilize KZUM as a weapon against other individuals, organizations, or institutions.

Reporters must first acquire approval from the news director and the general manager before proceeding with the use of an unidentified source or the use of an alias. If permission is granted, reporters must provide management with both a copy of the individual’s contact information (Appendix B) and copies of all on-record information exchanged during the interview process. This information will be stored for three to 5 years in a restricted-access filing system to maintain the privacy of the source. The reporter must also inform the source of these conditions and the source must sign an agreement (Appendix C) acknowledging their consent. Once signed, everyone involved must make every effort to keep the promise of anonymity to maintain the KZUM newsroom’s credibility.

When producing content, the individual should be described in as much detail as possible without actually identifying themselves as a means of assuring the public of their credibility and the reporter must provide a reason as to why the source was granted such a privilege.

Any information given “off the record” cannot be published without first being confirmed by another source. Information found on social media must first be verified with the original poster before production. If reposting content from other organizations, KZUM applies the same standards for aliases and unidentified sources to the content.

Minor Sources

Minors may only be interviewed or identified with the consent of their guardian(s). Staff and volunteers are required to obtain permission from their guardian(s) before any content is recorded. It is preferred that this permission be written (Appendix D) but proof of consent may be in other formats.

Use of Names and Descriptions

You may identify a subject without their consent in the following situations:

  • Law enforcement or another government official has identified the individual after they have been arrested and charged with a crime.
  • Juveniles may only be identified if they are being tried as adults or if the alleged crime is newsworthy, so long as the editor or general manager has approved.

Once a person has been named, KZUM should make every effort to report on the outcome of the case.

Descriptions should only be printed if they are highly reliable and can be sufficiently utilized to identify the subject.

Relationships with Sources

Reporters are highly discouraged from engaging in romantic relationships with sources to prevent the appearance of occurrence of partisanship. Staff and volunteers must disclose relationships with those who might feature in their coverage to the news director or general manager. The senior management staff will decide whether it is appropriate to reassign the reporter or not.

While it may be impossible to refuse a drink or meal paid for by a source due to either business situations or cultural customs, reporters should opt to have KZUM pay whenever possible. That being said, reporters may not accept free or discounted transportation, lodging, or accommodations except in circumstances where they have no other option.

Reporters who are attending events/performances for review may accept the press passes or tickets made available to them. No other staff may accept free tickets. Staff members and volunteers cannot utilize their position at KZUM to request special treatment.

Relationships with Other Organizations

News staff and volunteers may not join paid “teams” producing content for other organizations. They may not accept payment from competitors for news tips. They can, however, volunteer their time to speak on their professional experience for educational purposes.

Social Media and the Online Brand of KZUM

KZUM Accounts and Website Policies

Verified social media accounts should be branded with the KZUM name and logo. These accounts are managed by senior staff members. Post requests made by volunteers or interns should be reviewed by the managing staff member and the general manager.

KZUM news content should feature a news label for transparency’s sake. Whenever possible, news posts should utilize the tagging system to include the reporter’s name and the location of the story’s origin. Curated content – copyrighted or not – will always feature the appropriate credit when promoted on KZUM accounts.

Posts made under the KZUM name will not use discriminatory/prejudiced language or promote violence against any group of people. Any posts that tag KZUM will be held to these same standards of conduct.

Incorrect posts will not be deleted but will instead follow the same corrections and updates policy set for other content. For platforms that allow editing, amendments will be included at the beginning of the original post. Platforms without editing will require a reply to the original post.

Social Media and Website Comments

KZUM does not delete comments from our website or social media accounts due to differences in opinion. Abusive comments, spam comments, or comments promoting unrelated content may be removed. Comments may be blocked if they require frequent deletion. If you feel you have been unjustly blocked, you may contact our offices with your concerns.

Editorial Ethics

General Ethics

KZUM’s news department strives for accuracy by seeking out opposing views and exploring every facet of the issues we report on. Staff and volunteers are expected to obey the law while pursuing news content. If a reporter feels they have been unlawfully restricted or detained from doing their job, they are expected to remain professional and report the situation to the news director or general manager immediately.


We do not tolerate plagiarism. When sharing curated content from other sources – whether on social media or our website – we always credit the original creator. Direct references to others’ work should receive a credit line. Any instances of plagiarism will lead to disciplinary action.

Bylines, Datelines, and Credit Lines

All bylines, datelines, and credit lines should accurately convey the source of the reporting and who to contact in case of error. If there are multiple contributing reporters, the largest contributor is listed first. When using a trusted news agency, the media should carry the reporter’s byline and credit the news agency in a tagline. Credit lines acknowledge the source of a published or exhibited material; credit lines are inserted before the referenced material.


Quotations must be the exact words that the subject spoke, except for minor corrections in spelling, grammar, and syntax. Parenthesis and ellipses should never be used.

If a quote was received in a manner other than a direct interview – such as by mail, prepared statement, televised press conference, or interviews conducted with a translator – that fact must be disclosed to the public.

Obscenity Indecency, and Profanity

KZUM has strict guidelines regarding the use of obscene, indecent, or profane content. As a community non-profit, we are required to follow these guidelines established by the Federal Communications Commission:

“Broadcasting obscene content is prohibited by law at all times of the day. Indecent and profane content are prohibited on broadcast TV and radio between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience.”

Newsroom staff and volunteers should always censor inappropriate content. Failure to do so may lead to the FCC issuing a fine or revoking our station license. In instances where inappropriate content is broadcasted, the individual must make a note of it in the station logs and report the incident to the general manager and program director.

If a reporter feels the newsworthiness of the content warrants publication, the uncensored content may be posted to the KZUM website.

Fact-Checking Standards

KZUM commits to sharing accurate information with our listeners. Our reporters investigate claims thoroughly and verify all content before broadcasting it. The information is then double-checked by an editor before release. If information cannot be verified before the broadcast deadline, the information must be pulled or the broadcast must be delayed.

Our reporters and volunteers may share relevant components of their work with primary sources or outside experts to verify the information. The number of sources recommended for citation depends on the information being provided; personal accounts do not necessarily need backup sources (though it is highly encouraged), controversial issues require sources from each opposing side, and, lastly, high-valued news requires multiple sources corroborating identical facts.

Corrections and Updates

Errors should be acknowledged promptly and openly. Corrections and updates should be publicized at the beginning of the next broadcast. Corrections should also be attached to the original content and located in a consistent place. Updates should occur when the newsroom can provide more background information on the subject. Archives will then be updated, corrected, and completed as needed. Developing stories should indicate if they will continue to be updated with an announcement.

If you have noticed an error in our broadcast, please email kzumnews@kzum.org and submit documentation regarding the error’s nature and location (date, time).

Content Removal

KZUM will only remove content in cases where the information proves to be a real and credible threat to the safety of the subject. In these circumstances, approval must be given by the general manager.

Content Notes

Certain segments may contain content that is uncomfortable for listeners. Subjects that may cause distress to listeners can be prefaced with a content note as a means of preparing listeners for upcoming subjects. Content notes allow individuals with mental health triggers or trauma to prepare themselves to partake or opt to not consume the content. Subjects that may require a content note include:

  • Graphic or explicit violence/death.
  • Self-harm, suicide, or suicidal thoughts.
  • Sexual violence.
  • Racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc.
  • Hate speech or slurs.
  • Stalking or harassment.
  • Violence towards animals.
  • Eating disorders or other bodily dysphoria.
  • Graphic medical descriptions or bodily fluids (blood, vomit, internal organs, etc).
  • Death of/harm to a child.
  • Miscarriage or abortion.
  • Substance use/addiction.

Content Storage

Content used to prepare programs is archived for at least five years. This includes any photographs, written releases, or audio and video recordings. Archives are maintained in the KZUM offices.

Images and Editing

Any visual content used should not be staged to push a particular narrative, true or perceived. Visual content should be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of the subject(s). All subjects should be treated with respect: we should give special consideration to victims of crime or tragedy, or individuals partaking in situations where revealing their identity may cause social backlash (i.e. protests, standing in line to receive rent assistance, and other such circumstances). Media should only intrude on private moments of grief when the public has a justifiable need to see. Any editing should maintain the integrity of both the content and the context.

Circumstances of Grief and Tragedy

Due to their high impact on communities, incidents of grief and tragedy must be covered with care. The Society of Professional Journalists has established the following tenants for minimizing harm while reporting on circumstances of grief and tragedy:

  • Be compassionate for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage.
  • Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photography of those affected by tragedy or grief.
  • Recognize that gathering and reporting such information may cause harm or discomfort for those impacted by the incident.
  • Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public officials do.
  • Show good taste and avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.

Emergency Alert Broadcasts

Sometimes a situation arises that poses an immediate risk to health, life, property, or environment that requires urgent intervention to prevent a worse outcome. Our media team uses emergency alert broadcasts to deliver important emergency information to listeners informing them about events impacting Lincoln and the surrounding areas.

Due to the need for timely and accurate reporting, the newsroom is allowed to interrupt regularly scheduled programs should the need arise. EAS broadcasts may be live or prerecorded, depending on the nature of the situation.

Checkbook Journalism

KZUM does not pay for information, whether in terms of money or favors. The practice of checkbook journalism sets an inappropriate precedent for fact-gathering by calling into question the validity of the information provided and creating a hesitancy to pursue potential leads due to the established business relationship.

Conflicts of Interest


One of our newsroom goals is to avoid conflicts of interest – real or perceived – that call our impartiality into question. For this reason, conflicts of interest must be disclosed the moment it arises. The reporter in question may be reassigned at the news director’s discretion. A failure to disclose a conflict of interest will result in disciplinary action. The first time it happens will result in a warning. The second and third times will result in a write-up. After four incidents, the reporter will be asked to leave the newsroom.

Political Activity

Where politics are concerned, it is best to avoid publicly taking a position: don’t contribute money, don’t sign political petitions, don’t work on campaigns, don’t lobby on behalf of a group, and don’t run for office. Newsroom members are not allowed to display yard signs, bumper stickers, campaign buttons, stickers, or clothing advocating for political favor. Public political activism – volunteer work, rallies, or events where the proceeds go to a political cause – should be avoided if it will negate KZUM’s integrity.

If a reporter’s spouse, relative (by blood or marriage), or an individual of close relationship runs for office then such information must be disclosed and the reporter reassigned. This also applies if they are only working on a campaign.

We encourage our reporters to be vigilant about holding those in power accountable, regardless of their party. We have a special obligation to ensure the public’s business is conducted in the open and that government records are available for inspection. Lastly, our reporters should be aware of all relevant viewpoints and try to include them in any relevant work. Analysis and commentary should never be misrepresented as fact.

On an organizational scale, KZUM does not endorse candidates and is required to allow for equal air time at the request of candidates/parties during election time.

Online and Outside Activity

Hobbies, recreational activities, sports, religion, and entertainment activities rarely pose a conflict of interest so long as newsroom members avoid taking sides on issues they may end up covering. Likewise, news staff and volunteers should refrain from endorsing entities they cover or have direct professional contact with. Tweets, post-sharing, or +1 indicators do not constitute an endorsement. If a reporter has concerns they should request a conversation with the news director.

Staff members should remain aware of social media’s public nature and consider themselves a representative of the company in all public interactions. While we do not require private accounts, we simply ask that staff use caution and engage responsibly when on social media.

KZUM does not tolerate the use of discriminatory/prejudiced language or the promotion of violence against any group of people. If a staff member or volunteer actively engages in such behavior on public platforms, they may be asked to resign their position.

Additionally, members of the newsroom will be asked to include a link to the social media disclaimer section on all personal accounts.

As newsroom members, we always strive for impartiality and fairness in the content we produce. Our duty is to inform the public. While we trust our newsroom members to uphold journalistic ethics while working in a professional capacity, we also understand that they exist as individuals.

That being said, we must remind the public that a reporter’s personal social media account – and the posts they create or share – are not a reflection of KZUM and do not represent our organization.

Personal Relationships and Source Relationships

Staff and volunteers must be sensitive to the fact that relationships with sources can erode into favoritism, either in reality or in appearance. Some sources will attempt to intentionally win favor for this reason.

Close relationships with those who might feature in news content must be disclosed to the news director. That includes anyone who is a relative by blood or marriage, close friendships, or business partners. If the work in question is not a first-person story, senior staff will decide whether reassignment is necessary.

Gifts and Awards

Newsroom members may not accept gifts, awards, tickets, discounts, or reimbursements from any individuals or organizations covered or likely to be covered by KZUM. The only exceptions are items valued at $25 or less in value, usually referred to as ‘trinkets of nominal value’. Any received gifts should be returned with a polite explanation. The only other potential exception is the acceptance of honorary degrees, awards, or medals from educational institutions.

Freelancing, Collaboration, and Guest Appearances

Freelance, collaborations, or outside work by newsroom members is permissible so long as it doesn’t present a conflict of interest to the individual’s work and it is not with a company in direct competition with our organization.

Information broadcasted first by KZUM may be recast to appear in a national publication with permission from the news director and the general manager.

No staff can appear before an outside group if that appearance could reasonably create a conflict of interest (or the appearance of one). They may not accept invitations to speak before a single company or industry assembly unless permission is granted and no speaker fee will be collected for the occasion. They should not speak at events where the main goal is profit-making. Staff may only accept speaking fees under $3,000 from educational or non-profit groups where lobbying or political activity is not the main focus.

Staff and volunteers may be asked to appear on shows where the appearance is related to the individual’s expertise on the subject. These appearances are acceptable so long as no speaker fee is collected. Once there, the individual must be identify themselves as a KZUM employee.

Competitions and Contests

KZUM staff and volunteers may not enter competitions, contests, or giveaways hosted by individuals/groups who have a direct interest in the integrity of the KZUM newsroom. They may not act as a judge either.

Sports, Financials, and the Arts

Staff covering these subjects must take extra caution to safeguard against partiality. They are not allowed to gamble on event outcomes or publicly support/advertise their subjects.

Members of the newsroom should not have a financial connection to the content they cover. This includes owning stock or other forms of investment or receiving a fee for services. Reporters should likewise avoid conflicts involving the financial interests of spouses or close family members.


Reporter Expectations

Interview Policies

Staff and volunteers must meet sources in a public place to ensure the safety of all employees. If you require a trip to a source’s property for any reason, you must inform another staff member of your whereabouts for safety purposes.

When conducting interviews, copies of the interview transcript must be provided to the news director for documentation in the archives.

Borrowed Equipment

Staff or volunteers who borrow equipment for use must complete the checkout process. Upon return, items will be checked to verify that they are in working condition. Check-ins must be dated appropriately.

Newsroom members may keep acquired media (books, recordings, tapes, CDs, programs, shows, and movies) sent to them for review as part of their personal collection as they are considered press releases. These items may not be sold or copied.

Press Badges

 If a staff member or volunteer needs a KZUM press badge, they will be provided with one for the duration of their time in the field. Between uses, KZUM press badges must be returned to the newsroom.

Event-specific press badges are usually provided by the event organizers; access to these events must be coordinated ahead of time. Reporters may communicate directly with the event organizers or request a senior staff member do so on their behalf. Requests may be denied if an organizer feels you do not meet their requirements for obtaining a press credential. At the end of the event, the provided press badge must be returned to the organizers.

If you are denied press credentials, you may purchase a ticket to the event you wish to cover. Please keep in mind that, despite purchasing a ticket, you are not entitled to recording or photographing the event.

When requesting access to press credentials, please examine any agreements carefully before signing. Certain agreements may include restrictions regarding recording or photography and/or may include a clause agreeing to waive certain rights (such as copyrights to produce content).

Selling Materials Created for KZUM

All content produced for KZUM’s newsroom is the property of the station for the following year and may not be sold on an individual basis by the creator. Persons requesting to reproduce the content on other stations must have the general manager’s approval. The general manager will then decide whether to require a set charge. A year after the initial broadcast, ownership will revert to the creator but KZUM will retain the right to freely rebroadcast the work.