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Media Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) The University of Western Sydney attracts wide-spread media attention at a local, metropolitan, national and international level.

(2) It is critical that the University's interaction with the media be managed in order to build and protect the University's public reputation.

(3) The University actively encourages and facilitates staff to contribute to public debates and deliberations on issues within their areas of scholarly expertise.

(4) This policy aims to ensure the University manages its media liaisons successfully, including providing media outlets with ways to constructively engage with the University, effectively showcasing the University's research strengths, and ensuring the University speaks with a strong authoritative voice on all matters pertaining to its operations and values.

(5) This policy identifies a protocol to be followed in relation to media contact to ensure that positive outcomes are maximised for the University and for individual academic staff members.

(6) This policy should be read in conjunction with the Code of Conduct and any other relevant University policy or procedure.

Section 2 - Definitions

(7) Nil.

Section 3 - Policy Statement

(8) The University's aim is to engage with the media in an effective and constructive manner in order to build the University's reputation and to contribute to public debate. To achieve this, the University authorises a number of officers to speak on its behalf. It also encourages academic staff to engage with the media to showcase their research, and to offer expert scholarly commentary on topics within their areas of expertise.

(9) The Chancellor, or his/her nominee, speaks for the Board of Trustees of the University.

(10) The Vice-Chancellor and President may speak on all areas of the University's activity. However, good practice indicates the senior officers of the University will be the spokespeople for the areas within their portfolio.

(11) Executive Deans, Heads of School and Research Centre Directors will speak on behalf of their Colleges, Schools or Research Centres.

(12) In showcasing the University's teaching the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic and Research, the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) and the Chair, Academic Senate will be the appropriate spokespeople.

(13) Other members of staff shall not represent themselves as spokespeople for the University, unless authorised to do so by the Director, Marketing and Communication.

(14) No Individual staff member is to represent themselves as speaking on behalf of the University without authorisation or when expressing a personal opinion outside their area of scholarly expertise.

Part A - Rules for Media Engagement

(15) At the individual level, many academic staff members and senior administrators are experts in their professions, and they can make a valuable contribution to public debate. The University, as their employer, has rights in the way in which they represent themselves and their opinion to the media.

(16) For a University individual — staff or student — to express an opinion that deliberately and intentionally harms the University and damages the University's reputation is a serious matter.

(17) Whilst academic freedom is valued and should be protected, the definition of academic freedom does not expand to cover areas pertaining to the University which are not in the area of expertise of the individuals concerned.

(18) This policy explicitly regards it as irresponsible for staff members, both general and academic, to engage with the media in any activity or comment which is malicious or deliberately damaging to the University, or which represents a personal viewpoint as a viewpoint held by the University. Breaches of this policy are deemed breaches of the Code of Conduct.

(19) Where public comments are offered by staff as employees of the University of Western Sydney, it is expected that the comments will relate directly to their areas of scholarly expertise.

(20) The University encourages open and fair treatment of all perceived areas of concern, and it respects the rights of individuals to seek redress or remedy in accordance with the relevant legislation. In fact, the University welcomes 'whistleblowers', and there are appropriate mechanisms within the University to meet the needs of staff who have major issues of concern, as outlined in the University's Protected Disclosures Policy. Recourse to the media is a last resort, and whilst the University respects the rights of people to take that action, it requests staff and students to seek other remedies first.

(21) From time to time experts within the University may hold views which are within their expertise area, but which could be controversial or cause offence to some stakeholder groups. The University asks staff members to consult with the Director, Marketing and Communication before such views are expressed in the media. This will allow the University to exercise its duty of care for staff members who might otherwise be the subject of a public controversy as well as effectively manage the University's stakeholder relations.

Part B - Media Management

(22) All media liaison will be handled through the Media Services Unit, Office of Engagement & Partnerships. The Media Services Unit is available to assist with media liaison, and it is responsible for the writing, approval and distribution of all University media releases, as well as liaising with relevant journalists.

(23) Some staff have established good working relationships with the media within their areas of expertise, and staff are encouraged to use these contacts to further promote their academic expertise. However, staff who have media contact which has not been initiated by the Media Services Unit, are asked to advise the Unit, so it can ensure any follow-up media enquiries are managed in a timely and constructive manner thus optimising the University's media opportunities.

(24) The Media Services Unit is available to advise on all media related matters, including drafting key messages, developing media strategies for key areas of concern and research activities, as well as co-ordinating issue management plans to deal with potential controversial matters.

(25) Staff who are in contact with the media should to their best ability ensure the University is mentioned, featured or otherwise acknowledged.

(26) Staff who become aware of issues or potential issues that could lead to adverse media outcomes for the University, should contact the Media Services Unit as soon as possible, so it can develop an appropriate response.

Part C - Media Training

(27) The Office of Engagement & Partnerships will provide high level advice and support to academic staff and will make available professional media training for staff, using highly-respected professional news journalists as well as internal training. Academic staff who are engaged in research are encouraged to take up this opportunity.

Part D - Contacts

(28) Refer to the Office of Engagement & Partnerships Staff Directory for contact details.

Section 4 - Procedures

(29) Nil.

Section 5 - Guidelines

(30) Nil.