The Student News Site of The Woodlands High School

The Caledonian

The Student News Site of The Woodlands High School
The Student News Site of The Woodlands High School

The Caledonian

The Student News Site of The Woodlands High School
The Student News Site of The Woodlands High School

The Caledonian

The Student News Site of The Woodlands High School

National Scholastic Code of Ethics

Be Responsible.
(1.1) Understand that student journalists are custodians, not owners, of their
news medium, and they have an inherent obligation in decision-making to consider the heritage of their news medium, the values of the school community, the tenets of the schoolmission, the pedagogic concerns of school officials, and the wants and best interests of readers/listeners/viewers.
(1.2) Keep yourself, the reporter, out of print. It’s not about you; it’s about the
readers/listeners/viewers you serve. For the most part, student reporters and editors should not appear
in the media they represent unless they are legitimate newsmakers. In those cases, the particular student
journalists should have no influence on the coverage, and any conflict of interest should be disclosed.
(1.3) Strive for substantive stories that produce insight, generate accountability and inspire reader interest and engagement. Do not yield to those who would suppress such insight or resist accountability.
(1.4) Remember that protections of the First Amendment were created to serve not the press but rather the
people, and as a journalist guard the people’s interests above all others.
(1.5) Know the legal rights of student journalists and balance those rights with ethical responsibilities. Having the emotions in check. Support team effort in gathering and reporting news. Be loyal in protecting the best interests of your news medium.
(1.6) Defend relentlessly the First Amendment rights of students. Protect relentlessly media advisers from recriminations brought about by their advocacy of student rights.
(1.7) Demonstrate credibility and exemplify trustworthiness, reliability, dependability and integrity in and beyond journalism work. Your personal attributes affect the integrity of the news medium you work for.
(1.8) Be careful in covering stories about wrongdoing not to perpetuate misdeeds. Printing a photograph of malicious graffiti expands the vandal’s canvas.
(1.9) Do not allow vulgar or profane language to overshadow the essence of a story. If used, have compelling purpose and rationale to justify the audience’s need to read/hear vulgar or profane words. Consider alternatives to using profanity. For example, words may be partially obscured or bleeped.
Do not use profanity in opinion articles, such as editorials, columns and letters to the editor.
(1.10) Maintain a commendable work ethic—pursuing excellence, taking initiative, keeping to task, meeting
deadlines and taking care of the workplace and equipment. Inspire fellow staff members to do the same.
(1.11) Cultivate respect for your adviser, fellow staffers, school officials and others. Nurture an effective working relationship within the staff.
(1.12) Know when to show restraint in pursuing stories. For example, a spontaneous demonstration in the cafeteria by three students protesting the inschool suspension of a friend may receive notoriety, but its news value likely is insignificant. Furthermore, coverage of the incident may bolster the participants and embolden others to disrupt the cafeteria too.
(1.13) Exemplify effective leadership through the power of performance rather than the power of position. Express genuine interest in every staff member. Be sensitive to other points of view. Inspire teamwork and intrinsic motivation. Prioritize mentoring over clout.
2 Be Fair.
(2.1) Begin the search for truth with a neutral mind. Do not prejudge issues or events; wait until the facts and perspectives have been gathered and weighed. Discover truth without letting personal biases get in the way. Teach people to live by truth by presenting information objectively in a context that reveals relevance and significance.
(2.2) Explore controversial issues dispassionately and impartially. Don’t go into a story with a personal agenda.
(2.3) Justify coverage decisions by showing newsworthiness of story. Do not use your position with the paper to inflate your ego, favor friends, or advance other personal agendas that are selfserving. If you profile an “athlete of the week,” be ready to show the criteria and objective process for selection.
(2.4) Pursue a panoramic vision of issues and events to achieve balance and fairness. You may not know what the story really is until the story unfolds as you research it and talk with sources.
(2.5) Welcome diverse perspectives and particularly rebuttals to editorial positions.
(2.6) Refrain from “getting in the last word” by attaching an editor’s note to a letter
to the editor. In rare circumstances, a clarification note may be justified.
(2.7) Take initiative to give subjects of allegations an opportunity to respond in a timely manner. Make a serious effort to contact those subjects before going with a story in order to allow a response.
(2.8) Label or otherwise clearly identify editorials, opinion columns and personal or institutional perspectives.
(2.9) Disclose any potential conflict of interest by a journalist or news medium. For example, conflicts of interests could involve personal relationships with news subjects or sources, associations with organizations, gifts and “perks” and vested interests in issues or events.
(2.10) Appreciate the fact that at any given time a reporter sees only a part of what can be seen. Don’t jump to conclusions.
3 Be Honest.
(3.1) Do not plagiarize. Plagiarism is defined as the word-for-word duplication of another person’s writing or close summarization of the work of another source without giving the source credit. A comparable prohibition applies to the use of graphics.Information obtained from a published work must be independently verified before it can be reported as a new, original story. This policy also
forbids lifting verbatim paragraphs from a wire service without attribution or pointing out that wire stories were used in compiling the story. Material that is published on the Internet should be treated in the same way as if it were published in more traditional broadcast media. Because plagiarism can significantly undermine the public trust of journalists and journalism, editors should be prepared to consider severe penalties for documented cases of plagiarism, including suspension or dismissal from the staff. Plagiarism is not only unethical, it is illegal if the material is copyright protected.
(3.2) Do not fabricate any aspect journalism work without full disclosure. The use of composite characters or imaginary situations or characters will not be allowed in news or feature stories. A
columnist may, occasionally, use such an approach in developing a piece, but it must be clear to the reader that the person or situation is fictional and that the column is commentary and not reporting. The growth of narrative story development (storytelling devices) means that reporters and editors should be especially careful to not mix fact and fiction, and not embellish fact with fictional details, regardless of their significance.
(3.3) Identify yourself as a reporter and do not misrepresent yourself while engaged in news media tasks. For example, a source deserves to know if he is engaged in casual conversation with a student or more guarded conversation with a reporter. For another example, don’t misrepresent yourself by pretending to conduct an official survey for the school when in fact you are conducting it for the student newspaper.
Strive to record original action in photos, and make sure readers are aware if a photo is set up or posed.
(3.9) If using a recording device, get interviewee’s permission or make it obvious with the placement of the device
that you intend to record. Know state
laws regarding the legality of secretly
recording private conversation.
(3.10) Do not be cavalier about truth. Truth
breeds trust — an essential component of free and responsible media.
(3.11) Know “journalistic truth” must be
accurate, should promote understanding and should be fair and balanced.
4 Be Accurate.
(4.1) Remember that accuracy is often
more than just a question of getting
the facts right. Accuracy also requires
putting the facts together in a context that is relevant and reveals the
truth.
(4.2) Be a first-hand witness whenever you
can. Gather raw facts. News releases,
press conferences, official statements
and the like are no substitute for firsthand accounts and original investigation.
(4.3) Review story to make sure information is presented completely and in
proper context that will not mislead
the news consumer.
(4.4) Know your subject’s history to help
measure his credibility as a source.
If the subject has a reputation for
embellishing information, make sure
to verify information with another
source.
(4.5) Be willing to read back quotes to check
for accuracy. Sometimes a source may
not be saying what he really means.
(4.6) Record accurate minutes of student
media staff meetings that involve
policy decisions and other actions
that will have a lasting effect.
(3.4) Do not tolerate dishonesty of any
staff member. One dishonest act of
an individual can profoundly damage the reputation of a whole news
organization. Be completely honest
in reporting. Remember, half-truths
can be just as egregious as outright
lies.
(3.5) Stand by promises, including protecting the identity of confidential
sources. Consider sources’ motives
before promising anonymity. Verify
information given by an anonymous
source. Be cautious in making promises; consult editors; take time to consider ramifications of promises; don’t
be pressured.
(3.6) Be guarded about the credibility of
sources, and confirm questionable
assertions. Do not be misled by insincere or unreliable sources. Try not to
make reader guess whether a source
is sincere. For example, an untruthful
or embellished Q&A response can
taint belief in the sincerity of other
contributors as well.
(3.7) Be cautious of using satire. Because it
involves irony and sarcasm, it is often
misunderstood. Because it usually
involves ridicule, it could be carried
to an inappropriate level in a school
setting. Because special April Fool’s
Day editions can damage a paper’s
integrity and credibility, and because
they can pose a libel risk, they are
strongly discouraged.
(3.8) Do not electronically alter the content
of news and feature photos in any way
that affects the truthfulness of the
subject and context of the subject or
scene. Technical enhancements, such
as contrast and exposure adjustments,
are allowed so long as they do not create a false impression. Photo content
may be altered for creative purposes
as a special effect for a feature story if
the caption or credit line includes that
fact and if an average reader would
not mistake the photo for reality.
(4.7) Verify questionnaires answered by
sources. Make sure no one posed as
another person. Check comments for
sincerity and accuracy.
(4.8) Tell not only what you know but also
what you do not know. Invite a source
or news consumer to fill you in on
something he knows but you don’t.
(4.9) Engage in fact-checking every story.
Train copyreaders to spot red flags
and to verify questionable information.
(4.10) Be cautious about information received via the Internet. Not all sources
are consistently credible, including
sites such as Wikipedia, YouTube,
blogs, and Facebook. Verify questionable information by co
within the parameters of law, in controlling the content of their news
medium.
(5.2) Work to have your student news medium recognized as a public forum,
which will provide greater independence in controlling editorial content.
(5.3) Resist prior review as a practice of
administrative oversight in favor
of less intrusive and more effective
oversight strategies. Prior review dilutes student responsibility and puts
more responsibility in the hands of
administrators. Should the journalism experience teach responsibility
or obedience?
(5.4) Hold no obligation to news sources
and newsmakers. Journalists and
news media should avoid even the
appearance of conflict of interest.
(5.5) Accept no gifts, favors or things of
value that could compromise journalistic independence, journalistic
ethics or objectivity in the reporting
task at hand. For example, a reporter
covering a Spanish Club buffet event
should not put his or her note pad
and camera down to partake in the
event.
(5.6) Declare any personal or unavoidable
conflict of interest, perceived or certain, in covering stories or participating in editorial or policy decisions.
(5.7) Learn state laws regarding freedom
of information, open meetings and
shield laws. News media serve an
essential function as a watchdog of
government, and student journalists should not be asked to engage
in any activity that is the responsibility of outside agencies, such as
law enforcement, school administration and government. Cooperation
or involvement in the work of these
agencies should be restricted to what
is required by law. Legal agencies,
such as the Student Press Law Center in Virginia, may be contacted for
advice.
(5.8) Avoid working for competing news
media or for people, groups or organizations that the journalist covers.
(5.9) Show courage and perseverance in
holding school officials and other
decision-makers accountable when
student control of student news media is threatened. Remember, students
who produce non-public forum news
media still have some rights regarding
content decisions.
(5.10) Give no favored news treatment to advertisers or special interest groups.
(5.11) Guard against participating in any
school organizations or activities that
would significantly create a conflict
ics require close faculty supervision
and safeguards to protect student
welfare.
(6.5) Be especially sensitive to the maturity
and vulnerability of young people
when gathering and reporting information. Take particular care to
protect young sources from their own
poor judgment when their comments
can put themselves and others in
jeopardy.
(6.6) Do not allow sources to use a news
medium in malicious ways or ways
that serve self-interest above the best
interests of news consumers. Be on
constant guard to spot clandestine
efforts publish inappropriate messages.
(6.7) Show respect and compassion for
students who may be affected detrimentally by news coverage.
(6.8) Be sensitive when covering stories
involving people in distress, and reject
unreasonable intrusion by student
media in their lives.
(6.9) Balance the public’s right to be informed with an individual’s right to
be let alone.
(6.10) Understand and respect the different privacy expectations for private
citizens, public figures and public
officials when covering issues and
events.
(6.11) Be cautious about identifying students
accused of criminal acts or disciplinary infractions. Avoid naming minors.
(Check local jurisdiction for legal
definition of a minor.) If a student
is legally an adult, be ready to show
a compelling reason for identifying
the name. Relevancy and news value
can constitute a compelling reason.
For example, if an 18-year-old student were suspended from school
for attending the homecoming dance
drunk, the name likely would not be
used in a news story. However, if the
student is the homecoming king, the
news element of prominence may
of interest. Journalists particularly
should avoid holding office in student
government, or they should be prepared to recuse themselves in either
journalism or government forums
when decision-making could pose a
conflict of interest.
(5.12) Do not use a byline for editorials that
represent the opinions of the news
medium.
6 Minimize Harm.
(6.1) Look beyond the likely impacts of
each story, keeping alert to identify
and respond to any unintended or
undesirable consequences the story
may hold in the shadows. Identify
options for dealing with undesirable
consequences. Determine if full disclosure of information may jeopardize
student welfare unnecessarily; if so,
decide what can be held back without jeopardizing the public’s right to
know.
(6.2) Report immediately to school authorities any person who threatens
the safety of himself or others.
(6.3) Choose an option less offensive than
self-censorship when it is prudent
to do so. For example, the son of a
secretary accused of embezzling from
the student activity fund may be in
distress when learning the student
paper will cover the story. Tapping
the school counselor rather than engaging in self-censorship is a better
remedy to help the son deal with his
fear of humiliation.
(6.4) Do not put student reporters in legal
jeopardy or physical danger. Undercover stories may be unethical and
may pose significant risks. Student
journalists must obey the law. For example, a minor student who illegally
purchases liquor to show readers/
listeners which stores violate the law
also incriminates himself. Covering
gang issues and other volatile topjustify using the name. The names of
some crime victims, especially victims
of sex crimes, should be protected
from disclosure when prudent. Do
not implicate by association. For example, do not say “a school secretary
was arrested and charged with ….”
The reader could suspect any school
secretary.
7 Be Accountable.
(7.1) Admit mistakes and publicize prompt
corrections.
(7.2) Expose unethical practices of student
journalists and student news media,
and make remedies.
(7.3) Use press passes for admission or
special privileges only in the capacity
of a working journalist.
(7.4) Provide news media consumers with
opportunities to evaluate student
news media.
(7.5) Be friendly and sincere in welcoming
criticism and weighing grievances
from news consumers.
(7.6) Have dialogue with student media
overseers, and be prepared to justify
decisions, policies and actions.
(7.7) Keep notes and recordings of interviews for an indefinite time as evidence of responsible reporting.
(7.8) Hold school administrators and other
student media overseers accountable
for their actions and decisions just
as they hold student journalists and
student media accountable for their
actions and decisions.
(7.9) Use the power of student media judiciously, and be prepared to provide
rationale for any decisions or actions
taken by news staffs.
(7.10) Use anonymous sources only if there
is a compelling reason and only if
the information given can be verified through another, known source.
When sources are not given, people
may question the credibility not only
of the source but also of the news medium.

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