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A process for developing editorial policies that mean something


Editorial policies are among the most important documents advisers and their students will create. Done correctly, they will protect you and your students, your administrators and your school system against unwanted legal issues.

The first educational mission for all schools:  To develop responsible citizens through enabling critical thinking and empowering student decision making.

Done incorrectly, policies will lead to such unwanted legal issues. Past experiences show sound policies are well worth the time and energy it takes to develop then.

Steps to develop policies include:

• Research

• Study

• Practice



  1. The SPLC for policy models and articles about them
  2. The Internet for sample school policies
  3. The Internet for articles of the value of publications or editorial policies
  4. Provided links and articles from JEA’s Press Rights Commission, including JEA Model Policy and others
  5. Research data and academic studies for research into editorial policies
  6. Specific administration organization Web sites
  7. Search terms can include:

• Editorial policies
• Publications policies
• Staff policies

  1. Conduct interviews with those have are familiar with sound policies and those who have had issues with weaker ones. Some of the stronger policies can be found here .


  1. Examine gathered material. What makes policies acceptable? Unacceptable?
  2. Based on readings or examination of  a PowerPoint included on editorial policies, what topics or concepts need to be included in acceptable policies? Which ones should be avoided?
  3. Compile arguments for and against concepts and specific wording
  4. Evaluate selected points for strengths and weaknesses
  5. Outline acceptable policy sections and points. Reference models your work should be based on
  6. Evaluate your outline in separate groups and set up a process to complete the next steps


  1. Evaluate a draft policy for effectiveness and completeness
  2. Compare your draft policy with other student media policies
  3. Identify and communicate with scholastic media experts and legal experts about the effectiveness of the draft.

This process is a good start in the creation of or adaption of effective policies.

Journalism provides us with something unique to a culture – independent, reliable, accurate and comprehensive information that citizens require to be free. Anything else – from review to censorship – subverts democratic culture.

The Elements of Journalism
Kovach and Rosenstiel

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