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Guidance: On Covering Another Media Outlet's Scoop

Coming off the recent Buzzfeed report about what President Trump supposedly told Michael Cohen to do, we're underscoring how we handle such stories and who directs our coverage.

When another media outlet has what looks to be an important scoop based on an unnamed source or sources:

- The deputy managing editor who is on duty brings together the appropriate desk head(s), and one or more of the following: SVP of News (Nancy Barnes); VP for News (Sarah Gilbert); Executive Editor (Edith Chapin).

The questions to consider include:

  • How important is this?
  • Why would we need to report it now?
  • Do we have any of our own reporting and can we advance or knock down the story?
  • - One or more of the following must sign off on whether, when and what we will report: SVP of News (Nancy Barnes); VP for News & Operations (Sarah Gilbert, acting); Executive Editor (Edith Chapin).

    - The deputy managing editor communicates and coordinates with Digital, Newscast, Morning Edition, Here & Now and All Things Considered. "Reportable" notes from the desk(s) are reviewed by the DME before distribution. The engagement team must get the DME's approval before posting.

    To be clear, we want to be timely. We don't want to appear to be asleep. But we strive to break our own stories, not simply pass along what others are reporting. And, if we can't match or beat another outlet's reporting, we aim to do what NPR has always done best: Dig deep to put the news in context. That may take time, but it will set us apart.

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    Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.