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The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

The Sidekick Editorial Policy

Thanks to The JEA Model Editorial Policy and The Kirkwood Call Editorial Policy for guiding us through this process. 

“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 Sidekick is the official student-produced media of news and information published/produced by Coppell High School students. The Sidekick has been established as designated public forums for student editors to inform and educate their readers as well as for the discussion of issues of concern to their audience. 

Advisers may – and should – coach and discuss content during the production process.

 

The content of The Sidekick is determined by and reflects only the views of the student staff and not school officials or the school itself. 

FREEDOM OF THE PRESS 

As it is essential to preserve the freedom of the press in order to preserve a free society,

  1. The program will serve the best interest of the students and faculty of Coppell High School.
  2. Any decisions affecting the publications on all levels will be made by the student editors. The adviser is allowed to give legal advice and his/her opinion, but decisions rests in the hands of the student editors.
  3. Student editors may prevent material they judge to be in violation of the media editorial policy from being printed.
  4. The program will vigorously resist all attempts at censorship, particularly pre-publication censorship and self-censorship.
  5. The program retains the right to publish any and all material obtained through an interview by a staff member of the publications staff, holding that the interviewee was made aware that the information could be published in any form at any time.
  6. All student media referenced in this editorial policy are designated public forums.
  7. 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.
  8. The Sidekick 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.
  9. The Sidekick will not publish any material determined by 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.
  10. 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.

THE STUDENT EDITORS

  1. The student editors decide on all decisions that pertain directly to The Sidekick that the student editors oversee.
  2. 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.
  3. The duly appointed editor or co-editors shall interpret and enforce this editorial policy.

THE ADVISER

  1. The adviser is a professional teaching staff member and is in charge of the class just as in a conventional classroom situation.
  2. Is a certified journalism teacher that serves as a professional role model, motivator, catalyst for ideas and professionalism and an educational resource.
  3. Provides a journalistic, professional learning atmosphere for students by allowing them to make the decision of content for the media and ensuring the media will remain an open forum.
  4. Guides the media in accordance with approved editorial policy and aids the educational process related to producing material.
  5. Acts as legal consultant and educator terms of unprotected speech.
  6. Will keep abreast of the latest trends on journalism and share these with students.
  7. Will submit student media produced by the students to rating services and contests in order for the school publications staff to receive feedback.
  8. Will forward any received correspondence and/or information to the appropriate editors.
  9. Will provide information to the staff about journalism scholarships and other financial aid, and make available information and contacts concerning journalism as a career.
  10. 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.
  11. The adviser will not act as a censor or determine the content of the paper. The adviser will offer advice and instruction, following the Code of Ethics for Advisers established by the Journalism Education Association as well as the Society of Professional Journalists.

CONTENT OF THE SIDEKICK

A. INTRODUCTION

All content decisions will be made in occurrence to the following provisions, while keeping in mind that the overall purpose, role and goal of The Sidekick is to:

  1. Inform, interpret and entertain their readers through accurate and factual reports, where information has been thoroughly gathered and information has been completely verified.
  2. Serve as an educational laboratory experience for those on staff.
  3. Be accurate, fair and impartial in its coverage of issues that affect the school community.
  4. The Sidekick will not avoid publishing a story solely on the basis of possible dissent or controversy.
  5. Cover the total school population as effectively and accurately as possible.
  6. The staff of The Sidekick will strive to report all issues in a legal, objective, accurate and ethical manner, according to the Society for Professional Journalists. 

B. REGARDING PROFANITY

  1. The media will not print unnecessary profanity.
  2. If necessary, the student editors will contact the Student Press Law Center while determining whether content is considered profane or whether it is a cultural or non-vulgar slang term.
  3. The student editors reserve the right to edit quotes for unnecessary profanity, repetition of content, grammar mistakes and vulgarity; quotes that have been edited will be noted accordingly when published.
  4. Any edited quote will be read back to the source prior to publishing and sources will have a chance to make changes.
  5. 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

  1. All writing in the media, other than guest columns, will be written by students of the journalism program.
  2. 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 editor-in-chief(s) and adviser for verification.
  3. Any material submitted from an outside source can be edited by the student editors and must comply to this policy.
  4. Writing must be the original work of the writer and not previously published on any publication, unless otherwise specified by the adviser and editor-in-chief(s).

D. REGARDING EDITORIALS

  1. All printed editorial subject matter will be determined by the student editors and editorial board.
  2. The program will not publish any material for which there is evidence that the author is using the paper for inappropriate personal gain.
  3. The program will endeavor to provide a chance for comment on all sides of a critical issue in the same edition.
  4. The editorial board and 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

  1. All coverage of controversial issues will occur upon a timely subject.
  2. All sides of the issue will be presented and reviewed so as to refrain from any bias, with the exception of opinion pieces.
  3. 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.
  4. The program will not publish material that is unnecessarily obscene, libelous or an unwarranted invasion of privacy.
  5. The media will not attack people and/or organizations.
  6. If 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:
    1. Why is it a concern?
    2. What is its journalistic purpose?
    3. Is the information accurate and complete?
    4. Are any important points of view omitted?
    5. How would we feel if the story was about ourselves or someone we know?
    6. What are the consequences’ of the publication?
    7. Is there a logical explanation to anyone who challenges the issue?
    8. Is it worth risking our credibility?
    9. What are the alternatives?

F. REGARDING BYLINES

  1. All articles, graphics, photos, art, columns, pages, reviews and other material creatively conceived, with exception to staff editorials, mug shots and cutouts will be credited with the staff member’s name.
  2. All bylined writers will be held accountable for their work.
  3. 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 contributor.

G. REGARDING NEWS AND FEATURES

  1. The program will specialize in and emphasize on informing their readers of school news and unique students in the Coppell High School community, Coppell ISD community and city of Coppell. 
  2. The program will cover community, state, national and international news if it is directly relevant to the school community, and includes local angle.
  3. The program will strive to provide coverage to all school organizations and functions.
  4. 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.
  5. Major district issues and news will be priority over school news (these major issues will be decided by the student editors).

H. REGARDING DEATHS

  1. Any current student, staff member, faculty member or building administrator who dies during the year will be recognized in the school media unless the family declines.
  2. The media will publish factual information (date of birth, date of death, survivors) in an article including one mug shot if possible on coppellstudentmedia.com.
  3. The school media 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 publication of cause of death. 
  4. The school media will treat all deaths in a tasteful, respectful way.
  5. An issue, or portion of an issue, should not be dedicated to or in memory of the deceased.
  6. Any current student, staff member, faculty member or building administrator who dies during the year will be recognized in the school newspaper if still within press time.

I. REGARDING PHOTOGRAPHS, ILLUSTRATIONS, GRAPHICS, ETC.

  1. All captions will record the who, what, when, where, why, how and other necessary information in the photo.
  2. All photographs must be captioned and credited, with the exception of mug shots and cutouts.
  3. Bylines are required on all online photos and galleries.
  4. Artwork represents the interpretations of the artist, not necessarily of the staff or Coppell High School.
  5. The publications will not publish any photos, illustrations etc. that ridicule, demean or misleadingly represent any individual or group unless it is an editorial visual. 
  6. Electronic manipulations changing the essential truth of the photo or illustration will be clearly labeled if used.

J. REGARDING ERRORS

  1. Concerns about errors in the school media may be submitted to the adviser via email ([email protected]).
  2. The student editors retain the right to determine whether, subjectively, an error has been made.
  3. Known and or found errors that are brought to the attention of the school media will be addressed regardless if realized by author, audience or staff member.
  4. Staff members will strive to correct errors prior to publication. If the student editors determine a significant error is printed, a correction will be posted online and in the ensuing printed edition.
  5. Major corrections are determined by the editors and adviser.

K. REGARDING ADVERTISING

  1. The publications will not accept advertising for products that are illegal for minors to purchase and/or use.
  2. 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.
  3. The publications 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.
  4. The publications will accept personal or classified advertising.
  5. All advertisements need to be approved by the advertising/circulation manager and adviser; any advertisement not deemed appropriate by the advertising/circulation manager and/or the adviser will not run.
  6. The publications will cease to publish advertising of any advertiser that does not meet payment obligations specified in school contact.
  7. All advertisers will receive a complimentary issue of The Sidekick in which their advertisement has run.
  8. If a published advertisement is incorrect in substantive content, a reduced price or corrected run will be negotiated.
  9. Web advertisements appear in a specified section of the website.
  10. Advertising that appears in the media is not necessarily endorsed by the media or its staff members, editorial board or adviser.

L. REGARDING DISTRIBUTION AND CIRCULATION

  1. Daily updates will be made to the website throughout the week during the school year. While less frequent, updates will be made to the site during breaks.
  2. Current copies of the school newspaper will also be displayed near the library, the cafeteria, gyms and racks around school.
  3. Current copies of the school newspaper will also be mailed out to subscribers and prominent locations in the community
  4. Advertising revenues and fundraising are to be used to pay for the school media printing costs, supplies and other media expenses.
  5. All budget surpluses are to be used for future production of the school media.
  6. Total press run each issue is approximately 1,200 unless specified otherwise by adviser or student editors.
  7. Exchange publications are mailed to other media rooms across the United States. 

M. REGARDING LETTERS TO THE EDITOR AND ONLINE COMMENTS

  1. Letters to the editor will be printed in the newspaper or on the website.
  2. Guidelines to write letters to the editor will be printed in every issue in the newspaper and available online at coppellstudentmedia.com.
  3. Letters to the editor may be submitted to or emailed to [email protected] or cwofford[email protected]
  4. Letters to the editor should not exceed 300 words, must be signed and must include the writer’s email or phone number for verification.
  5. Letters to the editor will be verified by a member of the student editors to determine the authenticity of the writer.
  6. No material will be printed where content is obscene, invasive of another’s’ privacy, encouraging physical disruption of school activities and/or implies libel.
  7. The Sidekick student editors reserves the right to withhold a letter or column 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.
  8. All letters to the editor become the property of the school newspaper upon receipt and will not be returned to the author.
  9. Online comments will require a name and email address submitted that are verifiable.
  10. Alerts will be sent to staff editors each time a comment is posted to the site.
  11. Online comments that are found in violation of the editorial policy will be removed as quickly as possible.
  12. Personal attacks are not allowed.
  13. Comments on stories 12 months after their original publication will not be considered for approval.

N. REGARDING REVIEWS

  1. All reviews will be bylined and all reviews will express opinions of the author, the student editors and newspaper staff do not express opinions on the subject matter.
  2. All reviews will be to evaluate and inform, not to promote.
  3. Evaluative criteria used will be determined by student editors depending on whether the event or item being reviewed is professional or amateur in nature.
  4. All reviews must first be reviewed by the entertainment editor prior to publishing.
  5. All reviews need to be reviewed and printed in a current and timely manner.

SOCIAL MEDIA

  1. Social media will be used to promote The Sidekick, to promote published content and to engage the Coppell High School community.
  2. The student editors reserve the right to remove comments that violate this policy, including but not limited to those with profanity, bullying or demeaning language or factually incorrect claims that are potentially harmful. The student editors also reserve the right to remove comments from and block spam accounts.
  3. 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.
  4. The official social media accounts should avoid promotion of events and remain objective, reporting what is fact.
  5. Information gained through social media channels should be verified through multiple channels before passing it along to others.
  6. Audience engagement through social media should be done in a professional manner.
  7. Transparency is important. Mistakes made on social media posts should be corrected as soon as possible.
  8. The social media manager will work with the leadership team to promote the publication through outside sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
  9. The official social media accounts will be used to run online advertising packages for businesses.

PRIOR REVIEW POLICY

  1. Sources will not be able to arbitrarily demand to read the reporter’s completed story and then perform editing tasks on that story.
  2. The media reporters will include the name and identity of all sources if the reporter believes that doing so will not result in endangerment, harassment or any other form of undue physical, mental, emotional anguish for the source.
  3. The program will not, within all boundaries of law, reveal a source who asks to remain nameless.
  4. The program does not honor requests to “remove” or “delete” content published online. Ethically, along with all other journalistic publications, the program does not delete or remove content. If there is a factual error or mistake, the program will run a correction and/or clarification.
  5. All media interviewers will respect the interviewees’ rights to have information remain “off the record” if the fact is known before giving the information to the interviewer.
  6. The content will not be reviewed by anyone outside of the student editors aside from the adviser prior to its release to the public. However, the campus principal does receive a proof of each printed edition prior to publication.

STUDENT AND STAFF PUBLICATION POLICY

  1. All students and staff of Coppell High School are eligible for publication in the CHS student media.
  2. Any parent or guardian who wishes to not have their student included in student media must submit the appropriate non-disclosure agreement with the Coppell High School administration. This is not the responsibility of The Sidekick. 

STAFF POLICY FOR SELECTION AND DISMISSAL

A. EDITOR AND STAFF SELECTION PROCESS

  1. Editor-in-chief(s) and other editor level positions are chosen by faculty adviser, with input from the previous year’s student editors.
  2. Leadership team candidates are judged by application, previous work, potential and prerequisite class work.
  3. Leadership team applicants are not turned down because of age, race, sex, religion, mental or physical handicap that do not impair editorial responsibilities.
  4. Leadership applications are due in April of each year prior to registration.
  5. The editors are selected each May. The adviser reserves the right to make changes to the list as he/she deems necessary.

B. REGARDING STAFF DISMISSAL

  1. All individuals involved with The Sidekick are considered a team, with each member expected to complete all assigned stories, pages, photos, etc. on or before the assigned deadline. Staff members, including editors, may be reprimanded as deemed necessary from their positions and/or the publications’ staff itself if any of the following violations occur:
    1. Plagiarism
    2. Quote falsification
    3. Vandalism or theft of publication equipment
    4. Continuous negative or pessimistic attitude toward staff member or adviser
    5. Failing to fulfill job as outlined in the job description
  2. Major infractions will result in immediate loss of privileges from staff duties and dismissal from the leadership team, if applicable. Major infractions include but are not limited to the following: plagiarism, vandalism, theft.
  3. Minor infractions will be given a verbal warning for the first one. The second one results in a loss of staff privileges. An editor will face the possibility of being stripped of her or his title if suspended.
  4. First misdemeanor or arrest will result in loss of privileges and request to administration to have the student removed from the program.
  5. Each member of the student editors and adviser will attend a meeting with the staff member in question to discuss the issue. Adviser will make the final decision on discipline.
  6. The academic nature of the school newspaper class allows for a loss of privileges for editors or staff members when school and or established media policy is violated.

QUERIES

  1. Questions or complaints concerning material published in the media should be made to the adviser who will present the concern at the next scheduled student editors meeting.
  2. Corrections will be made on the editorial page in the following issue.

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

  1. The Sidekick should be a member of state, national and/or international organizations.
    1. National Scholastic Press Association
    2. Journalism Educators Association
    3. Columbia Scholastic Press Association
    4. Southern Interscholastic Press Association
    5. University Interscholastic League
    6. Texas Association of Journalism Educators 
    7. Association of Texas Photography Instructors