Media Engagement Policy

Policy Statement

The following persons may engage with a media organization as official college representatives:

  • The president;
  • The executive director of communications, who is the spokesperson for SUNY Oneonta;
  • Any faculty or staff member or other campus employee authorized by the president or executive director of communications;
  • Any faculty or staff member or employee of an affiliate who is a college matter expert and acting within their official role.

The following persons may engage with a media organization, provided they state that they are not official representatives of the college:

  • Any faculty or staff member or other campus employee who is acting as an academic expert.

Rationale

SUNY Oneonta seeks public awareness and often fields requests for information, analysis and opinion from media organizations. Through their reporting, media organizations can shape their audiences’ perceptions. Because of this, SUNY Oneonta has adopted a policy to guide the college’s engagement with media organizations.

Applicability of the Policy

This policy applies to SUNY Oneonta faculty and staff members and employees of campus affiliates.

Policy Elaboration

SUNY Oneonta is a public institution accountable to several constituencies, among them its students, students’ parents, employees, members of the community surrounding the campus, government agencies and the citizens of the State of New York.
In engaging with media organizations, the college strives to:

  • Respond to inquiries promptly and truthfully;
  • Gain favorable coverage that can build support for its strategic goals and enhance its reputation among its audiences and stakeholders;
  • Limit potential damage to its reputation caused by adverse or incorrect media coverage;
  • Develop trusting relationships;
  • Protect itself, its employees and its students from unfair intrusion; and
  • Exercise academic freedom as defined by the SUNY Board of Trustees, and affirm the role of institutions of higher education to create and disseminate information.

The following practices can help faculty and staff members and employees of campus affiliates appropriately share information with media organizations and/or refer media organizations to other sources at the college:

  • Keep the public nature of media organizations’ work in mind. Media organizations usually may disclose to their audiences whatever is shared with them.
  • Do not feel obligated. You may decline to answer any question, refer any question to the Office of Communications, or disengage with a media organization.
  • Notify the Office of Communications if a media organization engages you or you have engaged a media organization. This is especially valuable if there is reason to anticipate negative coverage related to any faculty or staff member, any student, or the college.
  • Be aware of liability. Individuals have been held liable for comments found by courts to be defamatory, libelous or obscene.

Only the Office of Communications and Office and Sports Information may issue college news releases. The latter issues news releases regarding intercollegiate athletics; the former issues releases about other college matters. These offices maintain relationships with media organizations’ reporters, editors and other representatives, and frequently engage them.

The Office of Communications also:

  • Welcomes ideas for news releases;
  • Often asks faculty or staff members to assist with college news releases;
  • Often asks faculty or staff members to engage with media organizations as academic experts or college matter experts;
  • Often suggests to media organizations that they engage academic experts or college matter experts;
  • Will provide upon request guidance to faculty or staff members who believe comments they made to a media organization were reported inaccurately, inappropriately contextualized, or otherwise misrepresented in such a way as to cause confusion, harm, or a negative perception of any faculty or staff member, any student, or the college, per se; Communications may intervene in such situations.

Definitions

“Academic expert” is defined as any member of the faculty or staff of the college who, by virtue of scholarship, uncommon experiences or other specialized learning, possesses extensive understanding and/or knowledge of, or novel ideas and/or opinions about a specific subject matter.

“College matter expert” is defined as a person who, by virtue of role and/or responsibility at the college, possesses extensive understanding and/or knowledge of a specific matter at SUNY Oneonta.

“Media organization” is defined as a person or entity engaged in disseminating information to the general public through a newspaper, magazine, other publication, radio, television, cable television, or other medium of mass communication.

“News release” is defined as a written or recorded communication directed at any representative of a media organization for the purpose of announcing something ostensibly newsworthy. A news release also may be called a “press release,” “media release,” “press statement” or “video release.”

Procedures

There is no procedure related to this policy.

Forms

There is no form related to this policy.

Related Documents/Policies

SUNY Board of Trustees Policies § 335.27 Academic freedom

Contacts

Questions related to the daily operational interpretation of this policy should be directed to:
executive director of communications 607-436-2748

Effective Date

Approved by the president June 21, 2017