About

Newspaper Editorial Policy

Purpose

The newspaper serves as an educational project for the students of Grayslake North High School.  As a co-curricular activity, its basic function is to serve the community by informing, educating and stimulating the exchange of diverse opinions. The paper will maintain a policy that is fair, accurate and impartial. The paper is both printed and online. Students are responsible for the written content as well as the design, photos and editorial content of both publications.

The members of the staff will at all times represent themselves as responsible journalists and abide by the Professional Journalists Code of Ethics and will follow the 105 ILCS 80/10 Speech Rights of Student Journalists Act. The newspaper is a product of student work that is a learning tool to teach ethics and skills of responsible journalists.

As per District 127 Board policy, no expression made by students in the exercise of freedom of speech or freedom of the press under this policy shall be deemed to be an expression of the District or an expression of Board policy.

Responsibilities of Coverage

Students in Illinois have the awesome responsibility to cover the news according to the school law 105 ILCS 80/10. Editors shall determine the content of the publications and edit the news, editorial and feature stories of their publications according to the Illinois law.  Journalism advisers of students producing the newspaper shall supervise the production of the student staff and maintain professional standards of English and journalism.

(105 ILCS 80/10)
Sec. 10. Free speech. Except as otherwise provided in Section 15 of this Act, a student journalist has the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media, regardless of whether the media is supported financially by the school district or by use of school facilities or produced in conjunction with a class in which the student is enrolled. Subject to Section 15 of this Act, the appropriate student journalist is responsible for determining the news, opinion, feature, and advertising content of school-sponsored media. This Section shall not be construed to prevent a student media adviser from teaching professional standards of English and journalism to student journalists. There shall be no prior restraint of material prepared for official school publications except insofar as it violates Section 15 of this Act. School officials shall have the burden of showing justification without undue delay prior to a limitation of student expression under this Act.
(Source: P.A. 99-678, eff. 7-29-16.)

(105 ILCS 80/20)
Sec. 20. Liability. No expression made by students in the exercise of freedom of speech or freedom of the press shall be deemed to be an expression of school policy, and no school district or employee or parent, legal guardian, or official of the school district shall be held liable in any civil or criminal action for any expression made or published by students, except in cases of willful or wanton misconduct.
(Source: P.A. 99-678, eff. 7-29-16.)

The newspaper staff recognizes the importance of being sensitive to reader tastes as well as the legal and ethical responsibilities of being good journalists.

The following material will not be published in the newspaper:

-Libelous material.  Libel is defined as a false and unprivileged statement that intends to harm a specific individual and his/her reputation in the community.

-Obscene material.  Obscenity is defined as material that, taken as a whole and applying local community standards, appeals to the minor’s prurient interest in sex in a patently offensive way.

-As per District 127 Board policy, (students will not publish anything that will ) violate any of the District’s policies, including but not limited to (1) its educational mission in policies 1:30, School District Philosophy and 6:10, Educational Philosophy and Objectives, and (2) speech that is socially inappropriate or inappropriate due to the maturity of the students pursuant to policies 6:65, Student Social and Emotional Development, and 7:180, Prevention of and Response to Bullying, Intimidation, and Harassment; or

-Students will recognize that the law does not allow for the following to be published:

    (105 ILCS 80/15)
Sec. 15. Exceptions. This Act does not authorize or protect expression by a student journalist that:
(1) is libelous, slanderous, or obscene;
(2) constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy;
(3) violates federal or State law; or
(4) incites students to commit an unlawful act, to
  violate policies of the school district, or to materially and substantially disrupt the orderly operation of the school.
(Source: P.A. 99-678, eff. 7-29-16.)

The newspaper recognizes that while there are many things that can legally be published, we will strive to adhere to the ethical standards put forth by the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C. and the Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.

The newspaper will also restrict anything that is raciest, sexist or demeaning in any way.

Content

It shall be the responsibility of the editorial board to determine content of each issue of the paper.  Outside sources or persons may directly submit ideas to the editor or adviser for discussion.  Submission of materials for discussion does not guarantee a story or idea will be used.  Final decision is made by the editorial board on the basis of timeliness, available space, perspective, issue or editorial goal and relevance.

If there is doubt about clarification or the purpose, the editorial board reserves the right to withhold the usage and publication of such material.

All reporting and editing will strive to be accurate, fair, objective, and complete as possible within the limitations of deadlines.  Students will try to have face-to-face interviews with at least three sources for each story. In the case that three sources are not possible for a story, the number of sources quoted will provide enough information to have a quality story. In the case that a face-to-face interview is not possible, then an email interview will be allowed as long as the interviewee has agreed. This will be documented in the story as such.

If a person requests to be anonymous in a story, that request must be approved with the adviser. Anonymous sources are not used very often, and are only necessary in extreme circumstances when there is no other way to tell the story or the person could be in danger, trouble or risk their reputation.

Profanity of any kind will not be allowed, even in direct quotes. The professional press does not publish profanity, so we are going to follow their lead.

Editorials/ Opinion Pieces

The newspaper will provide insightful commentary about the issues that are relevant to student life.  Editorials relating to newsworthy subjects that are interpretative, critical, persuasive, appreciative, entertaining, and sometimes visual will provide an analytical voice to the paper.  Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board; signed opinions represent the individual author.  Viewpoints expressed in the newspaper are not necessarily the opinions of the adviser or other faculty, administration, or School Board.  Opinionated articles will appear only on the editorial page unless otherwise labeled as a review, analysis or column.

  • Opinions/columns must be ACCURATE! Check your facts. Just as much interviewing must go into opinion pieces as go into news stories. Sometimes more interviewing is needed.
  • Pieces that are critical of school programs require special care. GNHS is a small community, and student and adult leaders deserve to be treated with respect. Here’s what that means for The Knight Times – columnists who want to criticize school programs and/or people (which is really hard to do) MUST FIRST conduct a face-to-face interview with the person or program leader in charge. Failure to do so will result in not running the column or article.

Letters to the Editor

The newspaper will provide an open forum in which diverse opinions of the students, faculty and staff and wider community may be expressed in exercise of democratic rights.  Readers have the right to respond to a story that is published in the paper. Submission of letters to the editor by any reader of the newspaper are welcomed.  Letters should not exceed 250 words, and all works must be signed. The editorial editor will verify author’s authenticity and edit for length.  Letters will also be edited for legal and ethical concerns outlined in the responsibilities section of this policy.

Bylines/Credits

The practicing journalists who contribute to the newspaper will be recognized for their efforts.  Any story, artwork or photograph will be by-lined at the beginning of the articles, and photo credits will be italicized at the end of the caption.  Artwork will be signed by the artist.

News/Feature Coverage

Beyond the major news events, there are many activities that occur within the school setting that go unnoticed throughout the year.  The newspaper will focus on feature and future coverage of school events, while giving community and national events secondary coverage.  State and national issues that have a direct relevance to the lives of students will be given coverage through the “local angle,” but the newspaper will not recount what has already appeared in other local and national media.

The newspaper also reports on social trends and takes an in-depth look at what happens in the lives of students.  Topics of teen interest like drug and alcohol use, relationships, racial, gender and sexuality issues, and college preparation will also be explored. While mirroring and analyzing the student body, page editors may include editor’s notes to clarify why a story was written and how the information was gathered.  For example, a survey will be accompanied by a note saying how the students were polled as well as an interpretation of the data collected.

Corrections

Student journalists make mistakes like professionals.  When the staff or readers notice an error beyond spelling and punctuation, a correction will be published in the next issue on the same page the mistake occurred.

Illustrations

Photos, artwork, graphs and advertisements will be used to support and accompany a story or to stand alone for their own value.  The newspaper will not publish any visual material that demeans, demoralizes or ridicules any individual or group for physical handicap, race, creed, ethnicity or sexual preference.  Illustrations will also follow the rules for obscenity, libel, slander and invasion of privacy laws and standards.

Advertising

The newspaper will only solicit advertisements from merchants who sell products that are legally available to minors.  All advertising requires prepayment if there is not a current credit record with the newspaper.  All ads must be accompanied by a signed contract.  Advertisement rates and payment dates are established within the terms of the contract.  Any student used in an advertisement must sign a model release form, and have it signed by a parent or guardian if the student is under 18 years of age.

All advertisements in the newspaper will adhere to the ethical standards put forth by the SPLC in Washington, D.C. and the Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.

The newspaper will not accept advertisements that are racist, sexist or demeaning in nature.  Ads do not represent the opinions of the school board and administration.

Staff Dismissal

All staff members are expected to know the responsibilities of their position, to meet deadlines, to follow newspaper policy, and to fulfill their duties to the best of their ability.  Students who do not fulfill their responsibilities in timely fashion will be notified by the adviser and a will receive an F in the course. Corrective measures and/or probation may be implemented to avoid failure.

Repeated delinquency or other serious breaches of conduct by staff members such as plagiarism, making up facts or quotes, or stealing or damaging school equipment will result in dismissal and a failing grade for the newspaper class.

Manner of Distribution

The newspaper is a fourth class matter published roughly every month, with established publication dates announced at the beginning of the school year.  Copies are distributed to English classed, the main office, hallways and cafeteria.

Obituaries

Deaths of students, staff and faculty are news items that are given sensitive coverage.  Many times, in lieu of a story, a display ad will run in the newspaper as a memory of the person. If the editorial board decides to run a story, cause of death will be published only if the surviving family consents, and coverage will not “eulogize” the person by giving undue attention and space.

Membership

The membership of the staff will be students enrolled in Journalism I and II.  Students must take Journalism I before Journalism II.

Members of the newspaper staff will adhere to all of the classroom policies as outlined in the Student Handbook and all of the policies outlined in the Activities Code of Conduct.

Editors

Page editors must apply for their positions by putting together a portfolio of their work as described in the Editor Application.  Editors will be chosen by the adviser.  An editorial board will also lead the newspaper.  These positions will consist of an editor in chief, managing editor, production editor and other editors as deemed by the adviser.

To remain an editor, all editors must attend layout sessions and complete their pages to the best of their abilities.  Failure to attend a layout session without prior approval could result in loss of honors credit and removal of editorial duties.

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