Even though a few months of the school year have passed, it’s not too late to get some policies in place to help your organization be more successful. Look at each of these five items and evaluate how they can assist your staff. They’re all available from NSPA at The Wheel — resources you don’t want to reinvent.
Model Code of Ethics for High School Journalists
The NSPA Code of Ethics establishes seven ethical principles for high school journalists. No more modifying other codes of ethics. This one is specific to the situations facing high school students and advisers. And, it’s been created with all media in mind.
Why and how to use: Student journalists need to have a foundation in ethics, but they also need to have examples that recognize the unique aspects of scholastic journalism. Copy the Code and provide it to every staff member. Spend class time anticipating some of the ethical situations posed in the Code, and how students will deal with them.
Legal Issues for Publishing Online
Understanding the basics of media law is essential for any high school journalist. But that understanding may be even more important for the multimedia journalist because of issues unique to the online world.
Why and how to use: Many people have misconceptions about what is legal or ethical online. If you have a student media website, knowing the law is important. Compare the differences between print and online.
Sample Student Media Staff Member Contract/License
This sample contract and license between a student media staff member and a student media organization was drafted by the Student Press Law Center and is an attempt to fairly balance the intellectual property rights of the student creators of a work against the business and practical requirements of student media organizations that publish such work.
Why and how to use: If a student takes a photo, he or she owns the copyright. It doesn’t matter whose camera was used or whether it was for a class assignment. Being proactive to allow a limited use by the student media organization can avoid any gray areas — and tense situations — while protecting the student’s rights.
Equipment Checkout Forms
Ensuring the proper maintenance of photographic equipment starts with an organized system to know where the equipment is, who is using it and who had it last. A checkout procedure helps students take responsibility for keeping track of equipment and to understand the cost to replace equipment.
Why and how to use: These models are examples from educators who found systems that worked for them. Take what makes sense and make it work for you.
Obituary Samples and Policies
Being proactive with an obituary policy can make for easy decisions if, and when, student journalists need to cover the death of someone in the school community.
Why and how to use: During a stressful, emotional or confusing situation, it can be helpful to turn to a policy for guidance. Consider these models and what makes sense for your student media and situation.
Once you and your staff have all of these components in place, you’ll be in great shape.