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2016 editorial policy

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Presentation for JEA Adviser Institute 2016

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2016 editorial policy

  1. 1. Policies and manuals Giving direction to Building a stronger Foundation for all student media provides direction to achieve the best legal and ethical guidelines, provides consistency and lets others know what you stand for.
  2. 2. What is the Foundation? • Mission statement • Policy (media-level and/or board-level) • Ethical guidelines • Staff manual procedures • Our thinking is to create focused, meshed and understandable model policies. • Our Foundations model works as one document, but with four clearly separated sections, covering all student media in the school.
  3. 3. Definitions • Mission statement: Establishes the principles, aim, values and philosophy of the student media. • Policy: Establishes the overarching principles and concepts that guide students’ present and future decisions and practice. Establishes the medias’ forum status and role of prior review. (3 types of forum status) • A policy is akin to a constitution, not changed often and establishes the democratic concepts for which media stand.
  4. 4. Definitions • Ethical guidelines: Establish what standards the media should make to best implement and explain decisions, mission and role; outlines standards of conduct. o Why to use unnamed sources • Staff manual: Establishes the operating processes and procedures consistent with the principles, policy and ethical judgments of the media. o Steps to follow to use unnamed sources o Camera check out o How to answer the phone
  5. 5. Two problems • Programs have not developed a proactive approach to problem-solving. • When policy and ethical, manual language are mixed, some admins have used that to intervene with student media work, to begin censorship. • Examples: o Type of forum, mixed with: o Editor selection o Removal of editors o Size of senior images in yearbooks o Editorial board makeup o Deadlines for content o Cutline content guidelines
  6. 6. An example • NJ system bans anonymous/unnamed sources unless adviser approves their use. • Because students used unnamed sources, students in this school face a prior review policy that makes an adviser responsible for student use of unnamed sources. • The policy reads (in part): “Advisers are to ‘evaluate the credibility, motivation and bias of anonymous sources in accordance with generally accepted journalistic standards.’”
  7. 7. To avoid similar situations, we would suggest: • One document, but with four clearly separated sections, covering all student media in the school: • Having a separate … o Mission statement o Media- or board-level policy o Guidelines o Procedures • Let’s look at each in more detail … to create your staff manual
  8. 8. Mission statement • Goal: to set the overarching purpose of student media in a brief statement of the guiding concepts.
  9. 9. Mission statement • _____________ (school name) student media publish complete and accurate coverage across platforms through journalistically responsible, ethically reported and edited content. Student-determined expression promotes democratic citizenship through public engagement diverse in both ideas and representation. • Or containing in your own words…
  10. 10. Mission statement • Audience engagement • Journalistic responsibility • Additional reporting basics • Ethical reporting and editing • Student-determined content • Diversity of ideas and representation • Platform consistency • Connection to school mission statement
  11. 11. Evaluating your mission statement • Have one to share?
  12. 12. Policy • We see two levels of policy: board- and media-levels • We provide five models built around this core concept; • Designated public forum for student expression without prior review by school officials in which students make all final decisions of content.
  13. 13. Problematic wording • The primary goal is to deliver the news and provide content deemed to be newsworthy, timely and ethical with regard to the XXXXX community
  14. 14. Problematic wording • The primary goal is to deliver the news and provide content deemed to be newsworthy, timely and ethical with regard to the XXXXX community
  15. 15. Problematic wording • As an open forum, The XXXXX sells advertisements for publicity and to pay for printing costs. We will refuse any advertisement which makes reference to illegal or controlled products, services, substances, or paraphernalia. We reserve the right to refuse any other advertisement deemed inappropriate to the community. • As an open forum, The XXXXX sells advertisements for publicity and to pay for printing costs. We will refuse any advertisement which makes reference to illegal or controlled products, services, substances, or paraphernalia. We reserve the right to refuse any other advertisement deemed inappropriate to the community.
  16. 16. Problematic policy • While XXXX values the students’ First Amendment rights, we also realize the responsibility involved in providing the best content for the students and staff at XXXX schools. To ensure accuracy and responsible journalism, students may be required to submit work prior to publishing and to correct any errors discovered.
  17. 17. Problematic policy • While XXXX values the students’ First Amendment rights, we also understand the responsibility involved in providing the best content for the students and staff at XXXX schools. To ensure accuracy and responsible journalism, students may be required to submit work prior to publishing and to correct any errors discovered.
  18. 18. Policy wording to avoid • “The XXXXXX adviser and/or editors have the right to deny publication of any editorial, column, review, or comment.” • “When questions of good taste arise, or those which surpass social norms of good taste and decency, they shall be resolved in consultation with the involved reporter(s), the managing editor, the executive editor and the advisers.”
  19. 19. • Develop acceptable methods for preserving the constitutional provision for free speech • Conduct inconsistent with the shared values of a civilized society. Policy wording to avoid
  20. 20. • “Material not generally acceptable to this community” or“significant minority or the majority of the community.” • XXXXXX will only publish content that is appropriate for the high school readership and conforms to high standards of journalistic integrity and ethical awareness of its readership. Policy wording to avoid
  21. 21. • “Material that endorses any candidate for public office or takes a political stand on any issue.” • “When questions of good taste arise, or those which surpass social norms of good taste and decency, they shall be resolved in consultation with the involved reporter(s), the managing editor, the executive editor and the advisers.” Policy wording to avoid
  22. 22. • To promote cooperation among taxpayers, parents, the school and its students. • Students make final decisions with help of adviser (or similar wording). Policy wording to avoid
  23. 23. Policy wording to avoid • To promote and encourage school-sponsored activities; To serve as public relations media. • At all times the ethical standards of journalism shall be enforced.
  24. 24. Policy model (board- or media-level) • Designated public forum for student expression without prior review by school officials in which students make all final decisions of content. • Please remember, a pro-First-Amendment board-level policy is always preferred. • Be cautious. If you don’t have such a policy, test the waters carefully. Build the case for this.
  25. 25. Evaluating your policy (board- or media-level) • Have one to share?
  26. 26. Ethics guidelines • Remember, these establish what standards the media should make to best implement and explain decisions, mission and role; outline standards of conduct. • Ethics. Principles that guide student decision- making. • Think of ethics as a right v right dilemma. • With anonymous sources neither using them or not not using them is wrong.
  27. 27. Ethical guidelines • A thorough set of student-designed ethical statements can help guide all media activities. • But … not as a part of the policy where someone might try to use it as criteria for punishment. • Ethics should be Green Light statements and guidelines, not measures for discipline. • Green lights encourage; Red lights discourage. • Where do ethics statements go: In a ethical guidelines manual, a part of a strong Staff Manual.
  28. 28. Red light, green light ethics • Red Light ethics emphasize restraint and caution • Keeps things out of print and off the air • Sees journalists as too aggressive • Prescribes what journalists “ought not” do • Red Light says back off; Green Light calls for “pinning it down” • Emphasize power and duty over caution and restraint • Considers “how to” rather than “ought not” • Focuses on opportunities rather than limits • Views journalists as too timid rather than too aggressive ---Roy Peter Clark
  29. 29. Ethical issue: example • If question on the veracity of publication persists, the issue will be brought to the editorial board who must consider the following questions before publication of the piece: o Why is it a concern? o What is its journalistic purpose? o Is the information accurate and complete? o Are any important POV omitted? o How would we feel if the story was about ourselves or someone we know? o What are the consequences of the publication? o Is there a logical explanation to anyone who challenges issue? o Is it worth risking our credibility? o What are the alternatives?
  30. 30. Issues of ethics • XXXXXX will only publish content that is appropriate for the high school readership and conforms to high standards of journalistic integrity and ethical awareness of its readership. • XXXXXX will only publish content that is appropriate for the high school readership and conforms to high standards of journalistic integrity and ethical awareness of its readership.
  31. 31. Issues of ethics • The XXXX follows guidelines set by the SPLC Code of Ethics; another policy forbid anything inappropriate to the community • The XXXX follows guidelines set by the SPLC Code of Ethics; another policy forbid anything inappropriate to the community
  32. 32. Issues of ethics • All published material shall conform to objectively reasonable journalistic and literary standards relevant to the particular publication for fact-checking, objectivity, use of anonymous sources and other ethical and/or stylistic matters. • All published material shall conform to objectively reasonable journalistic and literary standards relevant to the particular publication for fact-checking, objectivity, use of anonymous sources and other ethical and/or stylistic matters.
  33. 33. Issues of ethics • Student editors make the decisions with the help of the adviser, assuming they meet the school and district’s guidelines, and fall within the laws of California and the ethics of journalism. • Student editors make the decisions with the help of the adviser, assuming they meet the school and district’s guidelines, and fall within the laws of California and the ethics of journalism
  34. 34. Summary & solutions • Separate documents: policy, ethical guidelines and staff manual procedure • They can be in one document within clearly differentiated sections with separate purposes and functions • The ethics section would be more aligned with Green Light thinking than Red Light, simplifying the process and lessening confusion
  35. 35. Remember the NJ policy? • Ethical guidelines Journalism is based on truth and accuracy. Using unnamed sources risks both of those standards. For that reason, students should seek sources willing to speak on the record. Unnamed sources should be used sparingly and only after students evaluate how the need for the information balances with the problems such sources create.
  36. 36. Staff manual procedure • Editors should train staff members on how to conduct proper interviews on the record. Poor interview techniques could lead to confusion between potential sources and reporters. Staff members should always identify themselves when working on behalf of student media. Reporters should be advised to use anonymous sources rarely. • Before agreeing to do so, they should ask the following questions: • Why does the source want to remain unnamed? Is it possible he/she would be in danger if his/her name is revealed? What other problems could occur? • How important is the story? How important is the information provided, and is there an alternative means for gathering it? Using an unnamed source hurts credibility and could risk legal action.
  37. 37. Staff manual procedure • Students should consider what might happen if a court demands to know the source’s name. Most professional journalists would not reveal the name, and many have gone to jail instead of doing so. Would student reporters be willing to go that far? What legal protections exist in your state for protection of sources? • What might the source have to gain from getting this information published? Some sources who want to be off the record have ulterior motives that could harm someone else • If students decide the information is vital and the source has a solid reason for remaining unnamed, who, besides the reporter, should know the identity? Many staffs decide the editor should know to assess the credibility of the source, but not the adviser in order to protect the adviser’s professional position at the school
  38. 38. Links Foundations model: http://jeasprc.org/buildingfoundations/ SPRC site: http://jeasprc.org • This presentation: http://jeasprc.org/building-journalistic-foundations-advisers- institute-session-materials/ • CC credit to Dayna Mason, bar magnet on a compass array, Sep. 20, 2007, front slide. • https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/ • No changes made other than cropping
  39. 39. JEA Adviser Code of Ethics • Model standards of professional journalistic • Empower students to make decisions of style, structure. and content by creating a learning atmosphere where students will actively practice critical thinking and decision making. • Encourage students to seek out points of view and to explore a variety of information sources in their decision making. • Support and defend a free, robust and active forum for student expression without prior review or restraint. • Emphasize the importance of accuracy, balance and clarity in all aspects of news gathering and reporting.
  40. 40. Adviser Code of Ethics • Show trust in students as they carry out their responsibilities by encouraging and supporting them in a caring, learning environment. • Remain informed on press rights and responsibilities across media platforms. • Advise, not act as censor or decisions maker. • Display professional and personal integrity in situations which might be construed as potential conflicts of interest. • Support free expression for others in local and larger communities. • Model traits of a life-long learner through continuous professional development in media education along with membership and involvement in professional media organizations.
  41. 41. Adviser Code of Ethics • Champion inclusion so that ALL students not only see themselves and their ideas represented, but also see themselves as able to contribute to and to lead student- determined media. • Foster cooperation and open communication with administrators and other stakeholders while students exercise their First Amendment rights. • Encourage journalistically responsible use of social media in schools and educate students, school officials and community to its value. Educate students about the ramifications of its misuse. •
  42. 42. Panic Button
  43. 43. Resources • Legal Protections For Journalists’ Sources And Information, Student Press Law Center • Position Paper on Anonymity of Sources, Society of Professional Journalists • Use of Unnamed Sources, National Public Radio • Lesson: Exploring the Issues with Anonymous Sources, Journalism Education Association • Unnamed Sources, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee, Press Rights Minute
  44. 44. Prior review alternative • Student media is called and practices as a designated public forum for student expression where student editors and staff make all final decisions of content. • Before the pages/broadcast/web materials go to print, administrators have the length of a school day (the day they are given materials) to review content and to ask questions. • All content must be in students’ hands at the end of the day, on schedule, for publication. • If administrators/school officials have questions, they may request meeting time within that day and not to delay publication. • School officials may comment, ask questions or request changes. • All final decisions remain with the students as they meet their deadlines. They can choose to heed school officials requests or suggestions, or go with content as it was.
  45. 45. Foundation tasks • Outline goals and mission for your student media. • Train your editors and staff in legal and ethical principles across platforms. • Create policies, guidelines and procedures with students. • Ensure board- and/or media-level policies are in place. • Establish, for online or print, a content verification process. • Clarify who owns the content. • Develop guidelines for handling takedown demands. • All these are part of developing a foundation of good journalistic practices, beginning with editorial policies.
  46. 46. Ethics template • Foundations: Ethical statement-staff manual • The XXXXXXXX Times • General statement of mission and roles as locally determined • • Editorial policy – board level • XXXXXX High School student media are designated public forums in which students make all decisions of content without prior review by school officials. • • Ethical statement(s) Title • The topic’s general statements go here. One-three short paragrpahs generally outlining the ethical issue • • Procedures • This would indicate the procedure by which the general topic would be carried out. • • Suggestions • This would indicate recommendations student staffs could choose from. • • Resources • In some instances we would include recommended resources for additional ideas, lessons to stress the approach, etc.
  47. 47. Our goals • Simplify and clarify policy language at board- and media-level • Clarify your media mission with strong, clear statements • Focus policy statements on legal concerns • Separate ethical and manual language from policy • Mesh ethical and manual points so they support and define each other • Reinforce ethical and manual language as workable alternatives to restrictive policies • Support our Foundation package with Green Light philosophy
  48. 48. Future work • Tie the Foundation model into curriculum designed for JEA’s law and ethics lessons • Design a multi-hour convention workshop for students and advisers to take initial steps at policy-manual revisions • Streamline our convention/conference Foundations model presentations so others can use the materials at state-local levels • Continue outreach to individuals and groups to expand the growth of the Foundation model • Continue to create ethics statements

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