WHS Journalist Ethics guide

Official District 66 School Board policy:  http://db.westside66.org/policiesdisplay.php?id=123

Any mention of “Westside Media Group” or “Westside Journalism” or “Westside Media” is commenting on the same group, which means the student journalists of Westside High School.

http://www.splc.org/ – Check the Student Press Law Center for news and information about the First Amendment and how it pertains to student media.  ANY defense of student work should start here.  Please remember that during any administrative censorship issue, the students must fight that censorship on their own.  The best place to start is the SPLC.  
http://principalsguide.org/the-first-amendment-and-student-media/ – This is a great introduction to the First Amendment and how it applies to student in a public high school.  
http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp – All students are directed to follow the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics as part of the WHS media program.
http://www.studentpress.org/nspa/pdf/wheel_modelcodeofethics.pdf – More ethics guidelines

AP Ethics and Values Guide:  https://www.ap.org/about/our-story/news-values


Westside Student Journalist Personal/Staff Responsibilities and Guidelines

Personal Representation:  You represent not just your own personal integrity, but that of your staff and the entire WHS Media Group.  Whenever you interact with others in any capacity, you are making statement about what kind of journalists are allowed on staff.

Every time you interact with other students, teachers, staff members, administration, and community members, you should present yourself in a professional manner.  This includes any content posted to social media.

Whenever you are acting on behalf of WHS Media Group, you must always present yourself as a member of staff.

“Hello, my name is first name last name.  I’m part of the Lance newspaper staff and I would like to know if you could answer a few questions.”  – this is an acceptable way to introduce yourself.  If it is someone not from the school, identify yourself as a student from Westside.
Journalist behavior at Westside during school hours:

The golden rule: NEVER disrupt the school environment, in any way, for any reason.

Also, follow all staff member directions.  Always. Even if you NEED to interview someone.  At all times, in all instances, you must follow the directions of any staff member, teacher, administrator, or member of the district.

Also, you do NOT have the right, at any time, to keep someone from going to class or causing them to be  tardy.

In all instances you should attempt to schedule an interview during a mutual open mod.  If not, then try before or after school.  If that fails, go old-school: call them on the phone.

Do NOT do email interviews.  There is no chance for follow-up questions immediately, and you cannot engage the person for the intimate and interesting quotes you need to write a compelling story. Email interviews should be reserved for emergency situations, when a source is out of town, or is there no alternative available.

If you need to enter a classroom, you MUST schedule a time to do so with that teacher.

Breaking any of these rules could be cause for disciplinary action, including removal of your right to leave the classroom for any reason.

Conflict of Interest:

You should not, at any time, cover an event or club that you are part of.  A cheerleader should not be covering cheerleading.  A football player should not be covering football.  A debate student should not cover debate.

These students can be valuable resources, but should not cover these themselves.

Quoting students from other publications:

Any student part of WHS Journalism should not be quoted or featured in any story, unless absolutely necessary.

For instance, a story about how jobs interfere with homework should not have ANY journalism students quoted whatsoever.  HOWEVER – if the story is about a group of students who form a club to try to reduce homework for students with jobs, and the president is a staff writer on another staff, then it’s likely a statement from that student is warranted.  However, if that student is only a “regular” member of that group, they should not be quoted (we should give space to other students at every opportunity… our publications should be about the rest of the school – not about us).

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