AHS Editorial Policy
Thanks to The JEA Model Editorial Policy for guiding us through this process.
ALPHARETTA HIGH SCHOOL MEDIA 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 AHS Yearbook Editorial Policy pertains to the yearbook, the Edge.
AHS Yearbook is the official student-produced media of news and information published/produced by AHS Yearbook staff. It will not be reviewed or restrained by school officials prior to publication or distribution. Advisers may – and should – coach and discuss content during the production process.
Because school officials do not engage in a prior review, and the content of AHS Yearbook is determined by and reflects only the views of the student staff and not school officials or the school itself, its student editors and responsible student staff members assume complete legal and financial liability for the content of the publication.
I. FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
As it is essential to preserve the freedom of the press in order to preserve a free society,
- The media will serve the best interest of the students and faculty of Alpharetta High School, keeping itself free from any commercial obligations distracting from this purpose; this is defined by the media itself;
- Any decisions affecting the publication on all levels will be made by the student editors, the adviser is allowed to give legal advice and his/her opinion, but the final decision rests in the hands of the student editors;
- Only the student editors may prevent material it judges to be in violation of the media editorial policy from being printed;
- The yearbook staff will vigorously resist all attempts at censorship, particularly pre-publication censorship;
- The yearbook staff retains the right to publish any and all material obtained through an interview by a staff member of the yearbook staff, holding that the interviewee was made aware that the information could be published in any form at any time;
- All student media referenced in this editorial policy are designated public forums;
- Student journalists may use print and electronic media to report news and information, to communicate with other students and individuals, to ask questions of and consult with experts and to gather material to meet their news gathering and research needs;
- AHS Yearbook and its staff are protected by and bound to the principles of the First Amendment and other protections and limitations afforded by the Constitution and the various laws and court decisions implementing those principles;
- AHS Yearbook will not publish any material determined by student editors or the student editors to be unprotected, that is, material that is libelous, obscene, materially disruptive of the school process, an unwarranted invasion of privacy, a violation of copyright or a promotion of products or services unlawful (illegal) as to minors as defined by state or federal law;
- Definitions and examples for the above instances of unprotected speech can be found in Law of the Student Press published by the Student Press Law Center.
II. THE STUDENT EDITORS
- The student editors decide on all decisions that pertain directly the AHS Yearbook and their interests.
- The student editor and staff who want appropriate outside legal advice regarding proposed content should seek attorneys knowledgeable in media law such as those of the Student Press Law Center. Final content decisions and responsibility shall remain with the student editors.
- The duly appointed editor or co-editors shall interpret and enforce this editorial policy.
III. THE ADVISER
- The adviser is a professional teaching staff member and is in charge of the class just as in a conventional classroom situation;
- Is a journalism teacher that serves as a professional role model, motivator, catalyst for ideas and professionalism, and an educational resource;
- Provides a journalistic, professional learning atmosphere for students by allowing them to make the decision of content for the yearbook and ensuring the yearbook will remain an open forum;
- Guides the media in accordance with approved editorial policy and aids the educational process related to producing material;
- May caution, act as legal consultant and educator terms of unprotected speech, but has no power over censorship or veto except for constitutionally valid reasons;
- Will keep abreast of the latest trends on journalism and share these with students;
- Will submit student media produced by the students to rating services and contests in order for the school publications staff to receive feedback;
- Will forward any received correspondence and/or information to the appropriate editors;
- Will provide information to the staff about journalism scholarships and other financial aid, and make available information and contacts concerning journalism as a career;
- Will work with the faculty and administration to help them understand the freedoms accorded to the students and the professional goals of the school publications;
- The adviser will not act as a censor or determine the content of the book. The adviser will offer advice and instruction, following the Code of Ethics for Advisers established by the Journalism Education Association as well as the Canons of Professional Journalism. School officials shall not fire or otherwise discipline advisers for content in student media that is determined and published by the student staff.
IV. THE BUILDING ADMINISTRATION
- The Alpharetta High School administration will provide the students of AHS with a qualified journalism instructor to serve as a professional role model, adequate classroom equipment, and space for a sound journalism program.
- AHS administration will offer equal opportunity to minority and/or marginalized students to participate in journalism programs.
- AHS administration is not required to view and approve publication content before publishing.
V. CONTENT OF AHS MEDIA
All content decisions will be made in occurrence to the following provisions while keeping in mind that the overall purpose, role, and goal of all AHS Media is to:
- Inform, interpret and entertain their readers through accurate and factual reports, where information has been thoroughly gathered and information has been completely verified;
- Serve as an educational laboratory experience for those on staff;
- Be accurate, fair and impartial in its coverage of issues that affect the school community;
- AHS Yearbook will not avoid publishing a story solely on the basis of possible dissent or controversy;
- Cover the total school population as effectively and accurately as possible;
- The staff of AHS Yearbook will strive to report all issues in a legal, objective, accurate and ethical manner, according to the Canons of Professional Journalism developed by the Society for Professional Journalists. The Canons of Professional Journalism include a code of ethics concerning accuracy, responsibility, integrity, conflict of interest, impartiality, fair play, freedom of the press, independence, sensationalism, personal privacy, obstruction of justice, credibility and advertising.
B. REGARDING PROFANITY
- The yearbook staff will not print unnecessary profanity.
- The student editors will make the decision on whether the content is considered profane or whether it is a cultural or non-vulgar slang term.
- The student editors reserve the right to edit quotes for unnecessary profanity or unnecessarily offensive words, quotes that have been edited will be noted accordingly when published.
- Any edited quote will be read back to the source prior to publishing and sources will have a chance to make changes.
- Staff interviewers have the right to ask a source when necessary to repeat a quote without the use of profane language.
C. REGARDING STAFF WRITING
- All writing in the yearbook, other than letters to the editor, will be written by students of the journalism program and will not be accepted otherwise.
- AHS students outside of the media staffs will have the opportunity to submit writing to the media.
- Any writing submitted from an outside source for use will be accepted upon request of the student editors or when open opportunities arise and will be viewed by EICs and adviser for verification.
- Any material submitted from an outside source can be edited by the student editors and must comply with this policy.
- Writing must be the original work of the writer and not previously published on any publication unless otherwise specified by the adviser and EICs.
D. REGARDING EDITORIALS
- All printed editorial subject matter will be determined by the student editors.
- The yearbook will not publish any material for which there is evidence that the author is using the book for inappropriate personal gain.
- The yearbook will endeavor to provide a chance for comment on all sides of a critical issue in the same edition.
- The student editors, which consist of the staff ’s student editors, will determine the content, including all unsigned editorials. The views stated in editorials represent that of a majority of the publication’s staff. Signed columns or reviews represent only the opinion of the author.
E. REGARDING CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES
- All coverage of controversial issues will occur upon a timely subject.
- All sides of the issue will be presented and reviewed so as to refrain from any bias, with exception of opinions.
- 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 yearbook will not publish material that is unnecessarily obscene, libelous or an unwarranted invasion of privacy.
- The yearbook will not attack people and/or organizations;
- If a question on the veracity of publication persists, the issue will be brought to the student editors who must consider the following questions before publication of the piece:
- Why is it a concern?
- What is its journalistic purpose?
- Is the information accurate and complete?
- Are any important POVs omitted?
- How would we feel if the story was about ourselves or someone we know?
- What are the consequences’ of the publication?
- Is there a logical explanation to anyone who challenges the issue?
- Is it worth risking our credibility?
- What are the alternatives?
F. REGARDING BYLINES
- All articles, graphics, photos, art, columns, pages, reviews and other material creatively conceived, with exception to staff editorials, mug shots and cutouts will be bylined with the producer’s name.
- All bylined writers will be held accountable for their work.
- When more than one person has contributed creatively to a piece of work, any person who has contributed to the work must be bylined as a producer.
G. REGARDING NEWS AND FEATURES
- The yearbook will specialize in and emphasize on informing their readers of school news and unique students in the Alpharetta High School community.
- The yearbook will cover community, state, national and international news if it is directly relevant to the school community, and includes the local angle.
- The yearbook will strive to provide coverage to all school organizations and functions.
- When faced with undesirable news such as student or staff or faculty crimes, the publications will endeavor to publish the facts correctly, explain the issue and put a stop to any speculative stories that inevitably develop.
- Major district issues and news will be a priority over school news (these major issues will be decided by the student editors).
H. REGARDING DEATHS
- Any current student, staff member, faculty member or building administrator that dies during the year will be recognized in the yearbook if still within press time.
- The yearbook staff will work to obtain permission from the deceased’s family before publishing any information regarding the cause of death, if permission is not granted, the student editors reserve the final say in the publication of cause of death. Suicide will not be listed as a cause of death.
- The yearbook staff will treat all deaths in a tasteful, respectful way.
- An issue, or portion of an issue, should not be dedicated to or in memory of the deceased.
- The school yearbook will publish factual information (date of birth, date of death, survivors, organizations, hobbies, and interests) on one page after the respective grade of school pictures in the reference section.
J. REGARDING ILLUSTRATIONS, PHOTOGRAPHS, GRAPHICS, ETC.
- All captions will record the who and other necessary information in the photo.
- All photographs must be captioned and bylined, with the exception of mugs and cutouts.
- Bylines are required on all online photos and galleries.
- Any photographs that contain any inappropriate attire or actions must be reshot.
- Artwork represents the interpretations of the artist, not necessarily of the staff or AHS.
- The publication will not publish any photos, illustrations etc. that ridicule, demean or misleadingly represent any individual or group.
- Electronic manipulations changing the essential truth of the photo or illustration will be clearly labeled if used.
K. REGARDING ERRORS
- The student editors retain 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 media will be addressed regardless if realized by the author, audience or staff member.
- Staff members will strive to correct errors prior to publication; however, if the student editors determine a significant error is printed, the student editors will determine the manner and timeliness of a correction.
- Major corrections are determined by the editors and adviser.
L. REGARDING ADVERTISING
- The publication will not accept advertising for products that are illegal for minors to purchase and/or use.
- Students not of legal age whose photographs appear in an advertisement of the publications are required to sign a model release form, as well as their legal guardian.
- The publication will not run advertisements without a proper signature on the advertising contract which explains terms of payment, content, size, publishing dates and includes attached layout.
- The publication will not accept personal or classified advertising.
- All advertisements need to be approved by the student editors; any advertisement not deemed appropriate by student editors will not run.
- The publication will cease to publish advertising of any advertiser that does not meet payment obligations specified in school contact.
- If a published advertisement is incorrect in substantive content, a reduced price or corrected run will be negotiated.
- Advertising that appears in the media is not necessarily endorsed by the media or its staff members, editorial board or adviser.
M. REGARDING DISTRIBUTION AND CIRCULATION
- Advertising revenues and fundraising are to be used to pay for the school media printing costs, supplies, and other media expenses.
- All budget surpluses are to be used for future production of the school media.
- The school yearbook will come out the first two weeks of May unless specified otherwise by the adviser and student editors.
N. INDIVIDUAL PORTRAIT POLICY
- Senior portraits must be taken by company specified (Cady Studios) by yearbook staff.
- All senior portraits must arrive to the yearbook staff by the posted date given to the yearbook staff by the senior portrait photographer.
- Any senior who fails to get their yearbook portrait taken by the senior photographer (Cady Studios) contracted by the yearbook staff will not be pictured in the yearbook senior section.
- Portraits provided by the school photographer will be used for students in grades 9-12 and for the faculty members. Because of plant deadlines and the possibility of students missing portrait day, the yearbook staff is not responsible for unavailable portraits of students.
- The section/grade placement of student portraits will be determined by the student’s first-semester status.
- Grade designations will only be changed with written permission by the student, student’s parent, and a member of the administration.
- Photo omissions will only occur for students or faculty with written permission by the student and a member of the administration.
- The student editors reserve the right to review or omit questionable or inappropriate portraits.
- Names in mugs section will appear as supplied by the student during portrait day unless otherwise requested.
- Portraits will consist of one individual only. No other persons or props are permitted.
O. GROUP PORTRAIT POLICY
- Any groups with school sponsors are eligible to take a group photo for the yearbook.
- Yearbook will cover school sponsored, the board approved and established clubs/sports. All other sports or clubs will be reviewed by the student editors.
- The student editors reserve the right to review or omit questionable or inappropriate portraits.
- Portraits will consist of group members and sponsors only. Props are not permitted without prior approval.
P. REGARDING LETTERS TO THE EDITOR AND ONLINE COMMENTS
- Letters to the editor will be printed in the opinion section of the newsmagazine or on the website.
- Guidelines to write letters to the editor will be printed every issue in the opinion section of the paper and available online at thekirkwoodcall.com.
- Letters to the editor may be submitted to Mrs. Flowers’ mailbox or emailed to email@example.com.
- Letters to the editor should not exceed 300 words, must be signed and must include writer’s email or phone number for verification.
- Letters to the editor will be verified by a member of the student editors to determine the authenticity of the writer.
- No material will be printed where content is obscene, invasive of another’s’ privacy, encouraging physical disruption of school activities and/or implies libel.
- The AHS Yearbook student editors reserve the right to withhold a letter or photo or other submission and/or return it for revision if it contains unprotected speech or grammatical errors that could hamper its meaning. Deadlines for letters and columns will be determined by each year’s student staff, allowing sufficient time for verification of authorship prior to publication.
- All letters/photos to the editor become the property of the school yearbook upon receipt and will not be returned to the author.
- Alerts will be sent to staff editors each time a comment is posted to the site.
- Online comments that are found in violation of the editorial policy will be removed as quickly as possible.
- Personal attacks are not allowed.
Q. REGARDING REVIEWS
- The reviewer must have experience in the area in which they are reviewing.
- All reviews will be bylined and all reviews will be expressed opinions of the author, the student editors and yearbook staff does not express opinions on the subject matter.
- All reviews will be to evaluate and inform, not to promote.
- Evaluative criteria used will be determined by student editors depending on whether the event or item being reviewed is professional or amateur in nature.
- Review ideas may be submitted to the student editors by all members of the AHS media.
- All reviews must first be reviewed by the opinions editor prior to publishing.
- All reviews need to be reviewed and printed in a current and timely manner.
R. SOCIAL MEDIA
- Social media will be used to promote AHS Yearbook, to promote published content and to engage the AHS community.
- The student editors’ reserves the right to remove comments that violate any provisions hitherto outlined by this policy.
- Information posted on social media platforms should be held to the same standard as all other reporting in terms of information gathering and fact-checking.
- The official social media accounts should avoid promotion of events and remain objective, reporting what is fact. Reporters using personal social media to cover events should do the same.
- Information gained through social media channels should be verified through multiple channels before passing it along to others.
- Audience engagement through social media should be done in a professional manner.
- Staff members using applications to post updates to social media accounts should have separate applications for their personal account and for the school media accounts. This will limit the chance of a post being sent from the wrong account.
- Transparency is important. Mistakes made on social media posts should be corrected as soon as possible and any deleted posts should be acknowledged in subsequent postings.
- The goal of the media marketing is to promote and expand the media viewing audience.
- The publicity team will work with all aspects of the media.
- The publicity team will work to attend all major events held by the district or school with the intent of promotion.
- All events or important dates known by the adviser, staff members or student editors will be passed along to the staff.
- Ad trade-outs are regulated by the Business Manager, ad trade outs are given on a 1 for 1 basis.
- The Social Media Editor will work to promote the publication through outside sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
T. PRIOR REVIEW POLICY
- Sources will be able to have quotes read back at the time of the interview or at the reporter’s initiative.
- Sources will not be able to arbitrarily demand to read the reporter’s completed story and then perform editing tasks on that story.
- The media reporters will endeavor to include the name and identity of all sources if reporter believes that doing so will not result in endangerment, harassment or any other form of undue physical, mental, emotional anguish for the source.
- The media reporters will not, within all boundaries of law, reveal a source who asks to remain nameless.
- All media interviewers will respect the interviewee’s rights to have information remain “off the record” if the fact is known before giving the information to the interviewer.
- The media will not be reviewed by anyone outside of the student editors aside from the adviser prior to its release to the public, the adviser is allowed to review the publication, but not required to, for the sole purpose of acting as legal consultant and educator in terms of unprotected speech; the adviser reading content is not considered prior review unless he/she makes changes or directs changes.
U. STUDENT & STAFF PUBLICATION POLICY
- All students and staff of Alpharetta High School are eligible for publication in the AHS student yearbook.
- Any student or staff member wishing to ‘opt out’ of being published in the yearbook needs to fill out the appropriate ‘opt out’ form with the guidance office and alert the student yearbook adviser of plans to ‘opt out.’
- All efforts will be made to keep students and staff who have ‘opted out’ of coverage from publication in the AHS Yearbook.
VI: STAFF POLICY FOR SELECTION AND DISMISSAL
A. EDITOR AND STAFF SELECTION PROCESS
- Faculty adviser chooses Editor-in-chief(s) and other editor level positions.
- New and returning staffers are judged by application, previous work, potential, and perquisite class work.
- Applicants are not turned down because of age, race, sex, religion, mental or physical handicap that does not impair editorial responsibilities.
- Staff applications are due in January of each year prior to registration.
- The staff and editors are selected each March. The adviser reserves the right to make changes to the list, as he/she deems necessary.
B. REGARDING STAFF DISMISSAL
- All individuals involved with AHS Yearbook are considered a team, each member is expected to complete all assigned stories, pages, photos, etc. on or before the assigned deadline. Staff members, including editors, may be dismissed from their positions and/or the publications staff itself if any of the following violations occur:
- Continuously missed deadlines (dismissal procedures will take place by choice of adviser and/or EICs)
- Quote falsification
- Vandalism or theft of publication equipment
- Continuous negative or pessimistic attitude toward a staff member or adviser
- Submitting an advanced page design, story, photo or other publishable items to anyone outside the media staff without approval by the student editors
- Two suspensions in one academic year
- Failing to fulfill job as outlined in the job description
- Major infractions will result in immediate dismissal from staff duties and dismissal from class and staff at the end of a semester (major infractions include but are not limited to the following: plagiarism, vandalism, theft).
- Minor infractions will be given a written warning for the first one. The second one is immediate dismissal from staff duties and dismissal from class and staff at end of the semester.
- Warnings will be written and signed by the adviser and editor-in-chief(s), as well as the staff member in question.
- An editor will be stripped of his her title if suspended.
- First misdemeanor or arrest will result in the loss of editor’s title, and second will result in dismissal from staff.
- Each member of the student editors and adviser will attend a meeting with the potentially dismissed student to discuss the issue, the adviser will make the final decision.
- The academic nature of the school yearbook class allows removal of editors or staff members when school and or established media policy is violated.
- The above list infractions could all result in dismissal, however; staff dismissals are not limited to the listed infractions.
- A dismissed staff member receiving academic credit may be given a grade of F.
- Dismissal procedures are reviewed and approved by the student editors.
- The dismissed staff member may appeal their dismissal in writing to the student editors within three school days following dismissal.
- All dismissal appeals will be directed to the building principal and the student editors.
- Questions or complaints concerning material published in the yearbook should be made in writing to the editor-in-chief(s) who will present the concern at the next scheduled student editors meeting.
- Resolutions will be made within limits of deadlines.
VIII. PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATION
The AHS Yearbook is a member of the Georgia Scholastic Press Association, the National Scholastic Press Association, and Journalism Education Association.