WUSF, USF and Coverage of the Fight Over Budget Cuts

TAMPA (2012-2-22) -

We’ve been asked by several of our listeners about WUSF’s relationship to USF as the station covers the fight over budget cuts to the university. I’d like to take this opportunity to answer some of them.

Why don’t you put a disclaimer on every story you run on USF?

WUSF is part of the University of South Florida. I believe that is very clear to our audience.

USF is part of our call letters. We often announce that we’re a service of the University of South Florida.

That being said, during some of our longer stories, it would not hurt to occasionally remind people of our relationship, and something we can do more often.

Does the University have any control over the stories WUSF does?

No. WUSF’s professional journalists treat USF the same as any other institution we cover. The university has never tried to interfere in what WUSF covers.

Would cuts to USF affect WUSF?

The short answer is, we don’t know. The longer answer is, every department at USF could be affected by cuts as large as the $128 million that were being first proposed.

But none of this matters to the news professionals at WUSF. We also covered other threats to station funding (such as NPR’s Juan Williams controversy) with fairness and thoroughness.

Are you broadcasting stories about Senator JD Alexander and the pro-independence side of the Polytechnic debate?

Yes, we are. We have completed 2 half-hour episodes of Florida Matters about the USF Poly debate and the proposed budget cuts. Each prominently featured both sides of the debate. We’ve also broadcast many, many stories with Alexander.

We have aired two interviews with President Genshaft recently. She’s been much more available than Alexander – in part because she is literally in our backyard.

We have gotten Alexander by having our partner station’s reporters track him down in the Capitol. We have requested an interview with him in the past and have an open invitation with him to schedule an interview anytime, at his convenience.

The University of South Florida has passed a policy statement, Number 10-046, pledging it will have no influence on the editorial content of our station.

WUSF takes issues of fairness, balance and transparency very seriously. Please feel free to contact me directly with any concerns: scottfinn@wusf.org.

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