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Building journalistic foundations:
Adviser’s Institute session materials


Members of the Scholastic Press Rights Commission presented this material July 13 at the JEA Advisers Institute In Las Vegas.

No matter what platform you use, the choice of an editorial policy, ethical guidelines and staff manual can make or break your student media – and consistency is very important.

What you select, and why, does make a difference.

Along with the newest in digital tools and storyforms, training for a new year and new staff  should include basics in law and ethics, especially development of editorial  policies and staff manuals.

To ensure students understand these legal and ethical foundations before publication, especially with the new roles, we recommend advisers and student staffs do the following:
• Outline goals and mission for your student media
• Train your editors and staff in legal principles across platforms
• Ensure board- and/or publication-level policies are in place
• Train editors and staff in ethical principles across platforms
• Establish, for online or print, a content verification process
• Clarify who owns the content
• Develop guidelines for handling takedown demands.

Weaving editorial policy, ethical guidelines and staff manual into a complementary package develops a foundation of good journalistic practices, beginning with editorial policies.

As our journalistic process changes to include new roles as outlined by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in Blur, we need a strong foundation that binds  them together.

New roles include: Authenticator, Sense Maker, Investigator, Witness bearer, Empowerer, Smart Aggregator, Forum Organizer, Role Model and increase the importance of having a strong legal and ethical foundation.

We think our policy-ethics-staff manual Foundation will help meet this change.

Resources for you
1. Explanation of the policy-ethics-staff manual idea
2. What’s at stake in policy development
3. Policy talking points
4. When your student media are public forums and when they are not
5. Building your policies
6. Definition of policy terms
7. Questions about forums
8. More questions about forums
9. Foundations-policy package
10. Possible alternative workding samples
11. SPRC model policies
12. JEA board-approved model editorial policy
13. Questions about prior review


Our PowerPoint from the Advisers Institute presentation is below
Link to lesson plan based on the presentation.
Link to model policies
Link to the complete Foundations package

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