Michigan Radio airs a wide variety of sponsorship credits, citing corporations, local businesses, foundations and non-profit organizations who support public radio. In total, Michigan Radio has more than 100 different business sponsors from a wide variety of categories who collectively represent about 22% of our station’s budget. That compares to almost 65% of our revenue that comes directly from listeners.
Do sponsors influence coverage at Michigan Radio?
No. At a public radio station like Michigan Radio, corporate underwriters do not influence editorial coverage in any way. Funding from corporate sponsors is completely separate from the editorial decision making process in our newsroom as well as NPR’s. Our reporters and producers are trained in the ethics and practices of journalism which prevent outside groups from influencing their objectivity, story selection, and reporting. They make their own choices about what stories to cover and how to report them, with no input or interference from our underwriters or corporate support team.
How does Michigan Radio decide what sponsors to accept or reject?
The decision to reject funding from a particular sponsor would depend on there being a direct conflict of interest or a threat to the editorial firewall that exists between funders and our reporting staff. Issues of listener perception, poor taste, FCC policies or similar concerns are considered in accepting or rejecting support from particular entities. Also, underwriting is not accepted on behalf of political organizations, political candidates or their committees, or on issues of public importance or interest or religious belief.
In addition to Michigan Radio’s local funders, the station is also contractually obligated to air national underwriting announcements from NPR. Michigan Radio does not have a role in securing NPR’s national sponsorship support, nor can the station edit or reject these funders. NPR’s corporate sponsorship is managed by National Public Media, a separate subsidiary of NPR.
Why doesn’t Michigan Radio reject sponsorship credits from organizations engaged in practices I disagree with?
As a news organization, Michigan Radio is responsible for covering news stories objectively. To reject funding from an organization based on specific policies of that organization that some people object to would create the appearance that Michigan Radio has taken a position on those issues related to that organization. We believe that objective news organizations should report on the issues, and not take positions on them.