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Editorial Policy

Francis Howell High School

Editorial Policy

“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”
– The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America

“The vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools.”
– Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

The Francis Howell Spotlight is the official student newspaper at Francis Howell High School. The Spotlight began as a Francis Howell publication in 1971. The Spotlight editorial policy is printed in full in the first issue of the academic school year and remains on file in the journalism laboratory.

1. FREEDOM OF THE PRESS

The Spotlight believes it is essential to preserve the freedom of the press in order to preserve a free society. Therefore:

•    this school newspaper will serve the best interest of the students of Francis Howell and keep itself free from any other obligation
•    the staff of the school newspaper will accept guidance from its adviser, but will make its own editorial decision
•    only the editorial board may veto any material intended for publication, judged to be in violation of the Spotlight editorial policy
•    this school newspaper will vigorously resist all attempts at censorship, particularly prepublication censorship

2. THE EDITORIAL BOARD

•    the editorial board will consist of staff editors
•    no member of the editorial board shall have more than one vote on the board
•    the school newspaper staff will elect replacements for board members that have been dismissed

3. THE ADVISER

•    the adviser is a professional teaching staff member and is in charge of the class just as in a normal classroom situation
•    the adviser is a certified journalism teacher that serves as professional role model, motivator, catalyst for ideas and professionalism, and an educational resource
•    the adviser provides a journalistically professional learning atmosphere and experience for students by allowing them to make the decisions of content for the publication, and ensuring the publication will remain an open forum only limited by the United States constitution and applicable court decisions as they relate to public high schools.
•    the adviser guides the newspaper staff in accordance with approved editorial policy and aids the educational process related to producing the newspaper
•    the adviser may caution, act as legal consultant and educator in terms of unprotected speech, but should limit the power of censorship or veto to constitutionally or ethically valid reasons only
•    the adviser will keep abreast of the latest trends in journalism and share these with students
•    the adviser will submit the school newspaper and contributions of students to rating services and contests so the school newspaper staff receives feedback
•    provide information to the staff about journalism scholarships and other financial aid, and make available information and contacts concerning journalism as a career
•    work with the faculty and administration to help them understand the freedoms accorded the students and the professional goals of the school newspaper

4. THE BUILDING ADMINISTRATION

•    the Francis Howell administration will provide the students of Francis Howell High School with a qualified, journalism instructor to serve as a professional role model, adequate equipment, and space for a sound journalism program
•    the school newspaper staff and/or adviser may seek advice from the administration on paper content at any point in production
•    the Francis Howell administration will offer equal opportunity to minority and/or marginalized students to participate in journalism programs
•    the Francis Howell administration may caution, act as a legal consultant and educator but has no power of censorship or veto except for constitutionally valid reasons

5. PURPOSE OF THE SCHOOL NEWSPAPER & WEBSITE

•    the role of the school newspaper and website  is to inform, interpret, and entertain through accurate and factual reports
•    the school newspaper and website  is to serve as an educational laboratory experience for those on staff
•    the school newspaper and website will run as an open forum only limited by the United States constitution and applicable court decisions as they relate to public high schools
•    the school newspaper and website will strive to be accurate, fair, impartial and responsible in its coverage of issues that affect the school community
•    the goal of the school newspaper and website is to cover the total school population as effectively and accurately as possible

6. REGARDING PROFANITY

•    the school newspaper and website will not print any profanity, including slang, cultural, or colloquial terms
•    the board reserves the right to edit quotes for profanity or possible offensive words
•    any edited quote will be shown to the source prior to publishing if the editing changes the meaning of the quote
•    the editorial board will make the determination as to whether or not specific words will be considered profane or offensive

7. REGARDING CONTENT

•    the editorial board determines content, priority, placement and space given to all material
•     the school newspaper and website will not publish any material that is obscene, libelous, invasive of others’ privacy or that encourages physical disruption of school activities
•    the school newspaper and website will not publish any attack material regarding individuals, religion, gender, age, mental or physical ability, ethnicity, race, culture, or lifestyle choices
•    the school newspaper and website will not publish any material for which there is evidence that the author is using the paper for inappropriate personal gain
•    the school newspaper and website will not criticize policy without providing for solutions or alternatives
•    the school newspaper and website will endeavor to provide a chance for comment on all sides of a critical issue in the same edition
•    the editorial board reserves the right to refuse any material not deemed up to the standards the newspaper has set
•    the editorial board retains the right to amend this policy if the need arises
•    this editorial policy requires the signature of the building principal for validation
•    online content will follow the same policies as content published in the newspaper
•    the school newspaper and website will not print stories involving private school matters, such as suspensions, unless the information becomes a matter of public record or the school populations’ right to know supercedes the individual’s right to privacy.

8. REGARDING STAFF WRITING

•    all writing in the school newspaper and website, other than letters to the editor, will be written by the publication  staff and students in the school’s journalism courses
•    the school newspaper and website will not accept writing, except for letters to the editor, from anyone other than the school newspaper staff and students in the school’s journalism courses
•    the school newspaper and website will not accept guest columns

9. REGARDING EDITORIALS

•    all editorials printed will be bylined_ as: On behalf of the  Editorial Staff
•    editorial ideas may be submitted to the editorial board by all members of the newspaper staff
•    all printed editorial subject matter will be determined by the editorial board
•    all individual staff columns will be bylined and labeled as columns
•    the photographs of writers of standing columns will appear with the columns
•    sports columns will appear in the sports section of the paper and be labeled as columns

10. REGARDING CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

•    all sides of the issue will be presented and reviewed so as to refrain from any bias
•    in news, all sides of a school, community, city, state, national, or international political issue will be presented factually so as to inform, rather than promote or endorse
•    the issue will be brought to the editorial board who must consider the following questions before publication in the paper:
o    Why is it a concern?
o    What is the journalistic purpose?
o    Is the information accurate and complete?
o    Are any important points-of-view omitted?
o    How would we feel if the story was about ourselves or someone we know?
o    What are the consequences of publication?
o    What are the alternatives?
o    Is there a logical explanation to anyone who challenges the issue?
o    Is this a battle we wish to fight?

11. REGARDING LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

•    letters to the editor will be printed in the opinion section
•    letters must be signed by the author and verified for publication by the editorial board.
•    letters to the editor may be submitted to the journalism teacher
•    letters to the editor should not exceed 400 words, must be signed and must include the writer’s address and phone number for verification
•    all letters to the editor will be verified by a member of the editorial board to determine the authenticity of the writer
•    no material will be printed where content is obscene, invasive of others’ privacy, encouraging physical disruption of school activities and/or implies libel
•    the editorial board reserves the right to have letters edited for length, grammar, punctuation, clarity, etc.
•    If editing is required, the letter will be sent to the author for consent.
•    the school newspaper will only publish one letter per author per issue
•    all letters to the editor become the property of the school newspaper upon receipt and will not be returned

12. REGARDING TRIVIA

•    the school newspaper and website will not publish gossip columns, popularity polls, April Fool’s editions, senior superlatives, will and testaments, etc.
•    the editorial board retains the right to determine what material is considered trivia

13. REGARDING REVIEWS

•    the reviewers must have experience in the area in which they are writing reviews
•    all reviews will be bylined and all reviews will be the expressed opinions of the signed authors, the editorial board and newspaper staff does not express opinions on these matters
•    all reviews will be to evaluate and inform, not to promote
•    all reviewers will endeavor to obtain direct quotes from participants, presenters, and/or audience to provide a balanced view
•    evaluative criteria used will be determined by the editorial board depending on whether the event/item being reviewed is professional or amateur in nature
•    review ideas may be submitted to the editorial board by all members of the newspaper staff
•    all printed review subject matter will be determined by the editorial board

14. REGARDING BYLINES

•    all articles, graphics, photographs, art, columns, pages and reviews printed will be bylined unless determined otherwise by the editorial board
•    all editorials will be bylined
•    all bylined writers will be held accountable for their work

15. REGARDING NEWS AND FEATURES

•    the school newspaper and website will specialize in and emphasize coverage of school news_* the school newspaper will cover community, state, national, and international news if it is directly relevant to the school community and includes a local angle
•    the school newspaper and website will strive to provide equitable coverage to all school organizations and functions
•    the school newspaper and website will focus on issues, not personalities
•    when faced with the undesirable news such as student, staff or faculty crimes, the school newspaper and website will endeavor to publish the facts correctly, explain the issues, and put a stop to any speculative stories that inevitably develop

16. REGARDING DEATHS

•    any current student, staff member, faculty member, or building administrator that dies during the year will be recognized in the school newspaper or the website.
•    the school newspaper and/or website will publish factual information (date of birth, date of death, survivors, organizations, hobbies and interests) in a 300-word obituary and include one mug shot if possible
•    the school newspaper and/or website will first obtain permission from the deceased’s family before publishing any information regarding the cause of death unless the cause of death is public record
•    the school newspaper and website will treat all deaths in a tasteful and respectful manner
•    an issue should not be dedicated to or in memory of the deceased.

17. REGARDING ILLUSTRATIONS, PHOTOGRAPHS, GRAPHICS, ETC.

•    all photographs will record the who, what, where, when, why and how of all photographs taken whether of individuals, places, or things
•    all photographs must be captioned
•    photographs printed in the school newspaper and website are displayed as taken; negatives will not be flipped
•    any photographs that must be re-shot due to inappropriate attire or actions by the individuals in the photo, those individuals will pay for all additional photo expenses
•    artwork represents the interpretations of the artist, not necessarily the publication staffs or Francis Howell High School
•    the school newspaper and website will not publish any photographs, illustrations, etc., that ridicule, demean, or misleadingly represent any individual or group

18. REGARDING ERRORS

•    concerns about errors in the school newspaper and website may be submitted  through the adviser, the phone number to the publications room is 636-851-4820 or they can be submitted to room A115.
•    the editorial board retains the right to determine whether, in-fact, an error has been made
•    known and or found errors that are brought to the attention of the school newspaper and website will be addressed regardless if realized by author, audience, or staff member
•    the school newspaper and website will work to correct errors in first subsequently published issue after the error has been located and acknowledged
•    corrections will appear in a corrections box on page 2

19. REGARDING ADVERTISING

•    the school newspaper and website will not accept advertising for products that are illegal for minor to purchase, consume or use
•    students not of legal age whose photographs appear in an advertisement of the school newspaper and website will be required to sign a model release form, as will their legal guardian(s)
•    the school newspaper and website will not run advertising without the proper signature on an advertising contract which explains the terms of payment, the content, size, publishing dates, and includes an attached layout
•    the school newspaper and website will not accept personal or classified advertising
•    all ads need to be approved by the editorial board. Any ad not deemed appropriate by the board will not run
•    the school newspaper and website will cease to publish advertising of any advertiser that does not meet the payment obligations specified in the school contract
•    all advertisers will receive a complimentary subscription of the Spotlight
•    if a published advertisement is incorrect in substantive content a reduced price or corrected run will be negotiated
•    advertisements that appear in the Spotlight are not necessarily endorsed by the Spotlight or its staff members, editorial board or adviser. Same for the website. All ads are billed when submitted, unless alternative arrangements are made with the adviser. Bills which are not settled by the first of the month following the ad, will incur an additional fee of 30% of the original balance. An additional fee of 30% the original balance will be added the first of each month until the bill is paid. All yearly ads should be paid in full by Nov. 1.
•    if an advertiser fails to produce payment by the end of the year,  an ad will be run in the local newspaper stating that the advertiser still has not paid their bill to the Spotlight.
•    An ad schedule will be provided to all advertisers. Multiple issue and prepayment discounts will be available.

20. REGARDING DISTRIBUTION AND CIRCULATION

•   the website is to be formatted to be viewed by all web browsers.

21. QUERIES

•    questions or complaints concerning material published in the school newspaper or website should be made in writing to the editor-in-chief(s) who will present the concern at the next scheduled editorial board meeting
•    resolutions will be made within the limits of deadlines

23. PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

•    the school newspaper and website should be a member of state, national, and/or international organizations

24. PRIOR REVIEW POLICY

•    sources will be able to review their quotes at the time of interview or at the reporter’s initiative. Signatures will be obtained to verify the quote’s acceptance.
•    sources will not be able to arbitrarily demand to read the reporter’s completed story and then perform editing tasks on that story
•    the school newspaper and website reporters will endeavor to include the name and/or identity of all sources if the reporter believes that doing so will not result in endangerment, harassment or any other form of undue physical, mental and/or emotional anguish for the source
•    the school newspaper and website reporters will not, within all boundaries of the law, reveal a source who asked to remain nameless
•    all school newspaper and website interviewers will respect the interviewee’s rights to have information remain “off the record” if that fact is known before giving the information to the interviewer
•    the school newspaper and website will not be reviewed by the administration prior to its release to the public

25. EDITOR AND STAFF SELECTION PROCESS

•    the editor-in-chief and other editors are chosen by the faculty adviser, and/or the previous year’s editor-in-chief(s)
•    new and returning staff are judged by application, interview, previous work, and prerequisite class work
•    applicants are not turned down because of age, sex, race, religion, mental or physical handicaps that do not impair their editorial responsibilities

The student news site of Francis Howell High School
Editorial Policy