Editorial Integrity & Executive Leadership Initiative

New applications are no longer being accepted. Check this page for updates about this initiative.


Open to all applicants.


January 16, 2024

Request for Proposals

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) seeks an entity to design and implement a professional development fellowship initiative for station managers who oversee public media newsrooms (“Initiative”). The Initiative will engage 50 fellows (“Fellows”) in small cohorts, over a timeframe of two years, with a customized curriculum of onsite and virtual training and activities, supported by ongoing mentoring and coaching, to improve the knowledge and expertise of these managers.

Over the past several years, many public media stations have hired new station managers, many of them overseeing newsroom operations. These locally owned and operated newsrooms are a critical source of fact-based information in their communities, helping audiences distinguish fact from fiction, responding to sometimes life-threatening public emergencies, and contextualizing complex issues impacting their lives and communities. Even as public media continues to be a trusted source of information, Americans’ overall trust in media is at a historic low. Meanwhile, the rapid news cycle and increasing pressure to develop more public media presence across more platforms are pushing newsrooms to produce content at unprecedented levels.

At a time when the craft of journalism is under increased scrutiny, it is critical that public media general managers that oversee newsrooms have the support and training they need to uphold public media journalism’s highest editorial standards, including accuracy, fairness, objectivity, balance, and transparency. Station managers impact every part of the newsroom operation – from enforcing editorial firewalls to establishing workplace culture, overseeing budgets to greenlighting innovation, managing crisis response to partnership development. The Initiative will provide training in all these areas and will also create relationships among the Fellows with the objectives of advancing system collaboration and strengthening public media’s local-national journalism service.

The Initiative will provide a customized curriculum that incorporates the distinct needs of each Fellow, which could include station managers who are first-time news managers, experienced journalism leaders who are new to public media station management, and managers leading newsrooms at stations licensed to state governments or universities. The goals (“Goals”) of the Initiative are:
• To build the organizational leadership skills of public media station managers who oversee newsrooms;
• To equip these leaders with the tools they need to enforce clear editorial firewalls and make ethical decisions in high stress, high stakes news situations;
• To support institutional evolution and accelerate change in public media newsrooms, so that they can better meet the information needs of communities;
• To create mutually supportive cohorts for these station leaders, so that they see themselves as part of a larger public media ecosystem; and,
• To provide ongoing training, coaching, and support.

Please download the Request for Proposals below for detailed information, including application requirements.
PDF icon Request for Proposals255.56 KB

Questions from Potential Respondents, with CPB Answers:

FAQ Topic: 

1. How does this cohort-based program differ from the Public Media Editorial Integrity and Leadership Version 2.0 program launched in the fall of 2023 at the Poynter Institute? I thought you just awarded a two-year contract to Poynter for this program. Is this RFP for a parallel program?

This RFP is for a professional development initiative for station general managers who oversee public media newsrooms, as opposed to the Editorial Integrity and Leadership Initiative, which is designed for editorial leaders (news directors, editors, executive producers). Although there are some parallel elements, this program will assist station managers in understanding the principles of journalism, including ethics, and navigating firewalls when fundraising for news coverage and overseeing content production.

2. Which elements of the Public Media Editorial Integrity and Leadership Initiative (for editorial leaders) does CPB deem to have been extremely successful? Were there aspects of those programs that CPB desires to improve upon? Are summaries of the evaluations of those programs available for public inspection?

Successful elements are reflected in this RFP and include the following: 1) Using cohorts of participants: Building relationships among the fellows has proven to be a way for them to continue learning together – even after the program ends. 2) In-person convening to kick off the program: Meeting trainers and fellows in-person helps to lay the foundations for more successful outcomes. 3) Timeliness of topics: The ability to modify the program to address new, unforeseen, and emerging issues ensures relevance. 4) Assessment: CPB requires that the entity implementing the program survey the fellows to evaluate the program’s effectiveness, as a way to improve the program. The evaluations and related materials are proprietary and may be made available to the selected vendor once an agreement is executed.

3. Are you open to sharing materials from the ongoing fellowship curriculum and/or feedback from fellows in advance of the RFP deadline?

Materials from the current program and any past programs are proprietary.

4. Who are the key stakeholders outside of participants who need to be engaged?

The station’s editorial leadership and other executive-level staff are key station stakeholders, along with governing boards or authorities, such as university officials that oversee university-licensed stations. A 360-type assessment can be informative.

6. Are there any current culture/talent data & metrics that CPB has gathered across their broadcasting members?

CPB has collected data and select information about station employment demographics is available at CPB.org, under the tab “About CPB/Other Reports.”

7. How are Learning and Development programs governed and managed across CPB?

The training required by this initiative is governed and managed by the selected vendor.

8. What platforms and/or technologies currently exist at CPB for learning and development? Have station managers shown a preference for the type of platforms used? How receptive are they to emerging and/or third-party technologies?

CPB does not provide a training platform for this initiative. Applicants should specify the training platform they recommend in their proposals.

9. In your selection criteria for RFP respondents, are you factoring in non-profit versus for-profit status, small versus large organizations, or single partner versus a collaboration of more than one applicant?

The proposal evaluation factors and weights are set forth in Section V of the RFP and those factors do not consider the type of organization or partnership.

10. What does success look like for this program?

Please refer to the Goals detailed in Section I of the RFP.

11. Are there specific leadership capabilities that CPB wants to see station managers develop?

Please refer to Section I of the RFP.

12. Can you share any essential OKR/KPIs or relevant baseline metrics for performance goals?

No, we have not established any OKRs, KPIs, or baseline metrics and we will consider those recommended by the applicants and selected vendor.

13. Approximately how many hours per week does CPB envision cohort members should spend on the work for this program? These leaders have extremely demanding jobs. How do you envision the balance they strike between that day-to-day work and the long-term benefits they receive from the training?

Applicants should propose a realistic approach and number of hours for station managers, as their positions are demanding.

14. Is this akin to a graduate program where they might be expected to put in 10 to 20 hours per week for the educational program? Or more limited, in the realm of just a handful of hours per week?

Please see answer to Q13.

15. Do you want this program to offer self-paced elements?

Please see the answer to Q13.

16. Is the new partner expected to develop their own roster of new coaches? Or work with the existing coaches and/or supplement that group with additional coaches?

Applicants must include in their proposals the coaches and mentors that will lead and/or participate in the Training and /or will work individually and with small groups of fellows (Section III, (1)(b) of the RFP).

17. Does CPB have a preliminary set of selection criteria for advisors? Do they all need editorial background?

No, we do not have a preliminary set of selection criteria. However, applicants are required to describe the assigned staff’s relevant experience in their proposal.

18. Should applicants identify specific mentors and other support ancillary team members, in addition to the primary course leaders? Or are examples or types of mentors sufficient, pending completion of contracts or agreements with those potential mentors?

Please refer to the answer to Q16.

19. What is the reasoning behind your request for cohorts?

CPB has found that, with similar projects, a cohort approach facilitates mutual support among station leaders, so that they see themselves as part of a larger public media ecosystem.

20. Would you welcome the idea of the cohorts to be combined at any point with all 50 people coming together?

Applicants should explain how the design of the initiative meets the RFP goals.

21. Do in-person activities have to happen for the entire cohort at once?

Section III, (1)(c) of the RFP states one (1) in-person training per cohort, if public health guidance permits.

22. Have you already determined inputs for cohort construction and segmentation?

No, as we expect the background, experience, needs, etc., of initiative fellows will inform the inputs. The selected applicant should assist CPB in identifying the inputs.

23. Does CPB have a preliminary set of selection criteria for selecting Fellow cohorts?

No, CPB does not have preliminary selection criteria. However, the fellows should be representative of public media news stations.

24. Is the program limited to only general managers or CEOs, or may COOs or other second level leaders apply?

This program is limited to station general managers.

25. Would you be able to provide a list of the locations of the pool of candidates to see what would make a more ‘inclusive’ location?

Public media stations that employ journalists are in all 50 states.

26. “Define specific goals and outcomes for the Training and the Fellows for use in the Survey, to help trainers assess the effectiveness of the Initiative and adjust the curriculum as needed” – what do you mean by this? Is it that the assessment results are meant to feed into the design of the content (allowing time between assessment and start of program) or that the survey needs to be designed based on the objectives of the program?

The survey should be developed with input from the evaluator. If initial survey results show that the program could be more effective if modified, CPB expects the selected vendor to make the necessary adjustments.

27. Can you provide additional guidelines and expectations for third-party evaluator(s)?

The evaluator must provide an unbiased assessment of the program. Accordingly, it is important that the evaluator have knowledge in the fields of journalism and leadership training but, more importantly, understand how to measure the impact of the initiative.

28. Do we need to get a quote from the 3rd party who will then engage independently with CPB and do we engage with them or do we just propose a 3rd party and CPB reaches out independently?

Applicants must identify their proposed evaluator and include the cost in their technical and cost proposals. The selected vendor must retain the evaluator, subject to CPB’s approval.

29. How do you plan on advertising this initiative internally to potential fellows and will this initiative be mandatory for all fellows selected?

29. How do you plan on advertising this initiative internally to potential fellows and will this initiative be mandatory for all fellows selected?

30. What is the total pool of candidates you would be looking to include in the selection process?

The program is open to all general managers overseeing newsrooms.

The program is open to all general managers overseeing newsrooms.

All the activities need to be completed within a two-year frame, so the selection process should be conducted in a timely manner.

32. What is the approximate allocated budget range? Do you have a sense of the budget parameters?

Since this RFP is a competitive solicitation, CPB will not disclose the funds budgeted for this project.

33. Are the participants expected to pick up any of the costs for taking part in the program?

No, those costs should be included in applicants’ cost proposals.

34. How can we include budget costs for participants’ travel, etc., without knowing where they are based? Can you give us a capped number to work with?

The selected vendor will be responsible for booking travel, and the estimated costs should be included in the applicant’s cost proposal. Travel for the station managers, the selected vendor, coaches, and trainers should be limited to the in-person convening for each cohort.

35. Is there a percentage of locations in terms of states or territories, and the station's location as part of the network CPB supports with their funding -- something to help us make these estimates more informed rather than guesstimates?

Please see the responses to Q25 and Q34.

36. What is CPB's travel policy for learning and development?

Please refer to Section IX of the RFP for the expense guidelines.

37. Could you please clarify the CPB's position on indirect/overhead costs so that we can determine if we would be a viable vendor in this process?

Cost is one of several factors CPB will consider when evaluating proposals. Each evaluation factor and its weight are set forth in Section V of the RFP.

38. What are the expectations around governance and reporting? Who will be responsible for these reports, how often would you like reports, what format will they take, what will be the preferred measure to be tracked?

The selected vendor is responsible for submitting to CPB, quarterly narrative and financial progress reports addressing the work complete to-date. Narrative reports should be submitted as Word documents and financial reports as Excel spreadsheets.

39. Will the training administrator be responsible for reviewing travel expense reports and reimbursing GM for their travel costs, or does CPB reimburse those costs directly?

Applicants must include travel in their cost proposals and will be responsible for booking and paying for travel costs.

40. Is this RFP open to applicant entities that are based outside the US? What if the organization is global with offices in the US?

There is no requirement that applicants be based in the United States.

41. When do you foresee the Initiative timeline beginning?

The proposed activities should begin after May 2024, following contract execution.

42. What is the appetite for a discovery process?

The project is allocated over a two-year period, which limits the time allotted to the discovery process. Nonetheless, CPB will consider applicants’ recommendations.

43. Is the 2-year journey inclusive of any ongoing training, coaching, mentoring or do you need those to span beyond the initiative?

The training curriculum should include applicants’ plans for providing ongoing mentoring and coaching and specify whether these activities extend beyond the contract term.

44. What are the different stages of your decision-making process and stakeholders involved?

CPB is committed to following the timeline set forth in Section VI of the RFP.