RJ Media Student Editorial Policies
RJ Media operates as a *limited-open forum for student free expression. The publications are for the students, by the students. Reporting as referred to in this policy includes photography, design, videography, audio, written work for the web and for print, live broadcasting, and video on demand recordings, social media, and promotional materials.
The content and character of RJ Media student publications will cater to and reflect the student body’s interests and ideas by covering a wide variety of events and issues concerning student life at RJHS. The staff aims to balance what the audience wants with what it needs, and strives to make solid judgments with regards to news value and news awareness. The publications will also cover events, news, and issues outside of the school community as determined by the RJ Media staff.
The publications will serve as a medium for student opinions and ideas. RJ Media strives to produce objective, well-balanced and accurate reporting and content that features a range of students, their interests and their viewpoints. The staff is dedicated to being fair, accurate, balanced, truthful and responsible. The staff will seek the truth and report it, minimize harm and act independently. We promise to be transparent, accountable and open.
The staff also upholds Ignation values with regard to social justice and openness to growth. The staff prides itself on using the Ignation Pedagogical Paradigm to help make decisions: context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation.
The student RJ Media Editorial Board will have final say in the content of the publications. The advisers advise. The students make the decisions.
The publications advisers will not act as a censor or have final say in determining the content of the media. Rather, the advisers will teach journalistic skills and guide the students in making sound legal and ethical decisions. The publications advisers are the faculty members who teach the journalism courses and advise the RJ Media clubs.
School officials, administration or faculty and staff, likewise, shall not practice prior review or to censor any student media, with the exception of material deemed to be legally obscene, libelous, substantially and materially disruptive, OR coverage on any one of the following three topics:
* In cases where there is the possibility of coverage on any one of the following three topics, the student reporters and Editorial Board will work closely with the school president and principal only on coverage and content decisions.
2. Crimes and situations that are currently in the court of law
3. Termination of employees
The following content is not authorized in any student publication in any way, shape, or form:xx
1. Expression which is obscene;
2. Expression which is libelous, slanderous, or defamatory under state law;
3. Expression which is false as to any person who is not a public figure or involved in a matter of public concern; or
4. Expression which creates a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts (as defined by state or federal law), the violation of school regulations, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school or which violates the rights to others privacy or that threatens violence or property to persons.
The views of columnists are not necessarily those of the student media staff or of the school. Opinions will be published on designated pages or otherwise marked and by-lined by the author.
Letters to the editor are welcome and encouraged, but will only be published if they are accompanied by a name and signature. Letters should be short and free of “bashing” or obscenity. Letters to the editor do not reflect the views of the newspaper staff and will be marked on pages designated as such. The staff reserves the right to edit letters for potentially libelous material and length. The staff will not edit letters for punctuation, grammar and usage. Letters with issues will be returned to the submitter for further review.
In the event of error (omission, misidentification, etc.) the Editorial Board will attempt to mitigate the damage. Every reasonable precaution is made in avoiding errors, but some amount of error is perhaps inevitable. Each case will be evaluated on its own merit. The Editorial Board welcomes questions, comments, concerns, and complaints.
RJ Media reserves the right to refuse any advertising not found to be within the publication and the school’s standards, particularly in reference to good taste and to product and/or services that are illegal for the majority of high school readers.
Reporters for RJ Media will always identify themselves as functioning in that capacity before an interview or a survey. It is not our intention to catch people in embarrassing or misleading questions. The editors reserve the right to correct gross grammatical errors in quotations, if the source’s meaning will be distorted without such editing. Otherwise, quotations will be reported as stated by informed sources.
Sources will not be allowed to read the final text of any story published by RJ Media prior to publication. Reporters may read back or email quotations to sources for verification, and will follow up with sources who wish to supplement their initial interviews. They will also follow up on anything that may be unclear or needs further explanation or comment before use in a story. The Editorial Board will consider the relative experience of the source in dealing with the press in each case.
Sources may wish to have their names withheld from a particular story, and some may have valid reasons for this. The Editorial Board will decide on a case- by-case basis whether anonymity may be granted to protect the source. The Board recognizes that a high school is a very confined community of young people, and that some topics, while important to the community, may involve public embarrassment and official sanctions if names are printed. If the only way to tell an important story is to grant anonymity, The Editorial Board may consider it. Once anonymity is granted, the Board must stand behind its decision, whatever the pressure. This, therefore, it is a weighty decision.
Printing and publication of RJ Media content is paid for by the RJ Media activities/ club budgets, which are funded by the school.
All material published by RJ Media is copyrighted to RJ Media, year and date of original publishing. RJ Media will not publish any material that is a violation of copyright.
Contact the RJ Media Editorial Board at email@example.com or in the RJ Media Lab (Steele Center-102). Address: 6400 S Lewiston Way, Aurora, CO 80016
RJ Media Social Media Reporting Guidelines
First and foremost, students are encouraged to always exercise the utmost caution when participating in any form of social media or online communications, both within the RJHS community and beyond.
RJ Media reporters who participate in online interactions must remember that their posts reflect on the entire RJHS community and, as such, are subject to the same behavioral standards set forth in the RJHS Student Code of Conduct.
In addition to the regulations found in the Student Handbook, RJ Media reporters are expected to abide by the following:
- To protect the privacy of RJHS students and faculty, students may not, under any circumstances, create digital video recordings or photographs of RJHS community members either on campus or off-campus for online publication or distribution without the subject of the video’s knowledge and/or without clear reasoning for why there is news value for the posting or video or photograph. Performers, speakers, and athletes expect to be documented, individual students who are not serving in any of these capacities do not, and therefore must approached by the reporter as outlined in the editorial policies above and the reporter must identify themselves as a member of RJ Media.
- Students may not use social media sites to publish disparaging or harassing remarks about RJHS community members, athletic or academic contest rivals, etc. Or use social media to post expression which is obscene; expression which is libelous, slanderous, or defamatory under state law; expression which is false as to any person who is not a public figure or involved in a matter of public concern; or expression which creates a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts (as defined by state or federal law), the violation of school regulations, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school or which violates the rights to others privacy or that threatens violence or property to persons.
- Students who choose to post editorial content to websites or other forms of online media must ensure that their submission does not reflect poorly upon the school and it’s values and mission.
Failure to abide by this policy, as with other policies at RJHS, may result in disciplinary action as described in the Student Handbook, or as determined by the Office of the Dean of Students.
Social Media and Blogging Guidelines **
Social media and blogs are important elements of journalism. They narrow the distance between journalists and the public. They encourage lively, immediate and spirited discussion. They can be vital news-gathering and news-delivery tools. As a journalist you should uphold the same professional and ethical standards of fairness, accuracy, truthfulness, transparency and independence when using social media as you do on air and on all digital news platforms.
Truth and Fairness
• Social media comments and postings should meet the same standards of fairness, accuracy and attribution that you apply to your on-air or digital platforms.
•Information gleaned online should be confirmed just as you must confirm scanner traffic or phone tips before reporting them. If you cannot independently confirm critical information, reveal your sources; tell the public how you know what you know and what you cannot confirm. Don’t stop there. Keep seeking confirmation. This guideline is the same for covering breaking news on station websites as on the air. You should not leave the public “hanging.” Lead the public to completeness and understanding.
• Twitter’s character limits or other limits on social media platforms and immediacy are not excuses for inaccuracy and unfairness.
•Remember that social media postings live on as online archives. Correct and clarify mistakes, whether they are factual mistakes or mistakes of omission.
•When using content from blogs or social media, ask critical questions such as:
– What is the source of the video or photograph? Who wrote the comment and what was the motivation for posting it.
– Does the source have the legal right to the material posted? Did that person take the photograph or capture the video?
– Has the photograph or video been manipulated? Have we checked to see if the metadata attached to the image reveals that it has been altered?
• Social networks typically offer a “privacy” setting, so users can choose not to have their photographs or thoughts in front of the uninvited public. Capturing material from a public Facebook site is different from prying behind a password-protected wall posing as a friend. When considering whether to access “private” content, journalists should apply the same RTDNA guidelines recommended for undercover journalism. Ask:
– Does the poster have a ‘reasonable expectation’ of privacy?
– Is this a story of great significance?
– Is there any other way to get the information?
– Are you willing to disclose your methods and reasoning?
– What are your journalistic motivations?
Accountability and Transparency
• You should not write anonymously or use an avatar or username that cloaks your real identity on newsroom or personal websites. You are responsible for everything you say. Commenting or blogging anonymously compromises this core principle.
• Be especially careful when you are writing, Tweeting or blogging about a topic that you or your newsroom covers. Editorializing about a topic or person can reveal your personal feelings. Biased comments could be used in a court of law to demonstrate a predisposition, or even malicious intent, in a libel action against the news organization, even for an unrelated story.
• Just as you keep distance between your station’s advertising and journalism divisions, you should not use social media to promote business or personal interests without disclosing that relationship to the public. Sponsored links should be clearly labeled, not cloaked as journalistic content.
Image and Reputation
• Remember that what’s posted online is open to the public (even if you consider it to be private). Personal and professional lives merge online. Newsroom employees should recognize that even though their comments may seem to be in their “private space,” their words become direct extensions of their news organizations. Search engines and social mapping sites can locate their posts and link the writers’ names to their employers.
• There are journalistic reasons to connect with people online, even if you cover them, but consider whom you “friend” on sites like Facebook or “follow” on Twitter. You may believe that online “friends” are different from other friends in your life, but the public may not always see it that way. For example, be prepared to publicly explain why you show up as a “friend” on a politician’s website. Inspect your “friends” list regularly to look for conflicts with those who become newsmakers.
• Be especially careful when registering for social network sites. Pay attention to how the public may interpret Facebook information that describes your relationship status, age, sexual preference and political or religious views. These descriptors can hold loaded meanings and affect viewer perception.
• Keep in mind that when you join an online group, the public may perceive that you support that group. Be prepared to justify your membership.
• Avoid posting photos or any other content on any website, blog, social network or video/photo sharing website that might embarrass you or undermine your journalistic credibility. Keep this in mind, even if you are posting on what you believe to be a “private” or password-protected site. Consider this when allowing others to take pictures of you at social gatherings. When you work for a journalism organization, you represent that organization on and off the clock. The same standards apply for journalists who work on air or off air.
• Bloggers and journalists who use social media often engage readers in a lively give-and-take of ideas. Never insult or disparage readers. Try to create a respectful, informed dialogue while avoiding personal attacks.
** These guidelines were developed by the RTDNA Ethics Committee and Al Tompkins, group leader for broadcasting and online, The Poynter Institute. The guidelines were created though RTDNF’s Journalism Ethics Project sponsored by a generous grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism.