The Student News Site of Burlington High School

BHS Register

The Student News Site of Burlington High School

BHS Register

The Student News Site of Burlington High School

BHS Register

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 BHS Register editorial policy pertains to the Register print edition, bhsregister.com and all digital publishing platforms. The full editorial policy is available at bhsregister.com.

Vermont law H.413, also known as New Voices, protects student journalists from censorship and prior review. Pursuant to the aforementioned legislation, The Register will not be reviewed or restrained by school officials prior to publication or distribution. Advisers may – and should coach and discuss content – during the writing process. 

Because school officials do not engage in prior review, the content of The Register is determined by and reflects only the views of the student staff and not school officials or the school itself.

  1. FREEDOM OF THE PRESS

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

  1. The Register will serve the best interest of the students and faculty of Burlington High School, keeping itself free from any commercial obligations distracting from this purpose;
  2. Any decisions affecting the publication on all levels will be made by the editorial board, the adviser is allowed to give legal advice and his/her opinion, but the final decision rests in the hands of the editorial board;
  3. Only the editorial board may prevent material it judges to be in violation of the media editorial policy, from being printed;
  4. All media retain 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;
  5. Student journalists may use print and electronic media, including, but not limited to, social 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;
  6. The Register 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, including Vermont New Voices law;
  7. The Register will not publish any material determined by student editors or the student editorial board to be unprotected, that is, material that is libelous, obscene, substantially disruptive of the operation of the school, 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;
  8. 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.
  1. THE EDITORIAL BOARD
  1. The editorial board will consist of all student staff editors.
  2. The editorial board decides on all decisions that pertain directly to The Register and its interests.
  3. No member of the editorial board shall have more than one vote on the board.
  4. All members of the editorial board and the adviser will elect a replacement for board members who have been dismissed.
  5. All members of the editorial board are expected to know their duties and jobs in the publication and must understand the consequences of not fulfilling said jobs.
  6. 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 editorial board.
  7. The duly appointed editor or co-editors shall interpret and enforce this editorial policy.

III. 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 qualified 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 free of censorship.
  4. Guides the newspaper staff in accordance with approved editorial policy and aids the educational process related to producing the newspaper.
  5. May caution, act as legal consultant and educator in terms of unprotected speech, but has no power over censorship or veto except for constitutionally valid reasons.
  6. Will keep abreast of the latest trends on journalism and share these with students.
  7. Will submit the school newspaper and online content 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. It is illegal for school officials to fire or otherwise discipline advisers for content in student media under the Vermont New Voices law.
  1. THE BUILDING ADMINISTRATION
  1. The Burlington High School administration will provide the students of BHS with a qualified journalism instructor to serve as a professional role model, adequate classroom equipment, and sufficient space for a sound journalism program.
  2. BHS administration must adhere to Vermont law and cannot view or approve content before publishing.
  1. CONTENT OF THE REGISTER
  2. INTRODUCTION

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

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 The Register is to

  1. Inform, interpret, and entertain their viewers 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 Register 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 Register 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.
  1. REGARDING PROFANITY
  1. The media will not print unnecessary profanity.
  2. The editorial board will make the decision on whether content is considered profane or whether it is a cultural or non-vulgar slang term.
  3. The editorial board reserves the right to edit quotes for unnecessary profanity or unnecessarily offensive words, 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.
  1. REGARDING STAFF WRITING
  1. All writing in The Register, other than letters to the editor, will be written by students of the journalism program and will not be accepted otherwise.
  2. BHS students outside of the media staff will have the opportunity to submit writing.
  3. Any writing submitted from an outside source for use will be accepted upon request of the editorial board or when open opportunities arise, and will be viewed by editors and advisor for verification.
  4. Any material submitted from an outside source can be edited by the editorial board and must comply with this policy.
  5. Writing must be the original work of the writer and not previously published in any publication, unless otherwise specified by the adviser and editors.
  1. REGARDING EDITORIALS
  1. All editorials printed will be bylined as: “Register Editorial Board.”
  2. Editorial ideas may be submitted to the editorial board by all members of the appropriate staff.
  3. All printed editorial subject matter will be determined by the editorial board.
  4. The media will not publish any material for which there is evidence that the author is using the paper for inappropriate personal gain.
  5. The media will endeavor to provide a chance for comment on all sides of a critical issue in the same edition.
  6. The editorial board, which consists 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 editorial board. Signed columns or reviews represent only the opinion of the author.
  1. 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 exception of opinions.
  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 media will not publish material that is unnecessarily obscene, libelous, unwarranted and invasive of privacy.
  5. The media will not attack.
  6. If questions on the veracity of publication persists, the issue will be brought to the editorial board 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 POV 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?
  1. REGARDING BYLINES
  1. All articles, graphics, photos, art, columns, pages, reviews, and other material creatively conceived, with exception to staff editorials, mug shots and cut-outs will be bylined with the producer’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 producer.
  1. REGARDING NEWS AND FEATURES
  1. The Register will specialize in and emphasize on informing their readers of school news and unique students of the Burlington High School community.
  2. The Register will cover community, state, national, and international news if it is directly relevant to the school community, and includes local angles.
  3. The Register will strive to provide coverage to all school organizations and functions, while it should be acknowledged that this is not always possible.
  4. When faced with the 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 prioritized over school news (these major issues will be decided by the editorial board).
  1. REGARDING DEATHS
  1. Any current student, staff member, faculty member or building administrator that dies during the year will be recognized in the school media.
  2. The media will publish factual information (date of birth, date of death, survivors, organizations, hobbies, interests) in a 300-word obituary including one mug shot if possible.
  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 editorial board reserves the final say in publication of cause of death. Suicide will not be listed as a 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.
  1. REGARDING ILLUSTRATIONS, PHOTOGRAPHS, GRAPHICS, ETC.
  1. All cutlines will record the who and other necessary information in the photo.
  2. All photographs must be captioned and bylined, with the exception of mugs 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 BHS.
  5. The publications will not publish any photos, illustrations etc. that ridicule, demean, or misleadingly represent any individual or group, unless there is journalistic value.
  6. Electronic manipulations changing the essential truth of the photo or illustration will be clearly labeled if used.
  1. REGARDING ERRORS
  1. Concerns about errors in the school media may be submitted through the adviser, messaging a social media account or emailing is [email protected]
  2. The editorial board retains the right to determine whether, in fact, 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; however, if the editorial board determines a significant error is printed, the editorial board will determine the manner and timeliness of a correction.
  5. Major corrections are determined by the editors and adviser.
  6. If changes are made to a web story once a story has been posted, the change will be noted along with the date and time the change was made.

L: REGARDING ADVERTISING

  1. The publications will not accept advertising for products that are illegal for minors to purchase and/or use.
  2. All ads need to be approved by the editorial board, any ad not deemed appropriate by the board will not run.
  3. The publications will cease to publish advertising of any advertiser that does not meet payment obligations.
  4. All advertisers will receive a complimentary subscription of The Register in which their ad has run.
  5. If a published advertisement is incorrect in substantive content, a reduced price or corrected run will be negotiated. This does not include typos.
  6. Advertising that appears in The Register is not necessarily endorsed by The Register or its staff members, editorial board or adviser.

M: REGARDING DISTRIBUTION AND CIRCULATION

  1. The paper will begin at no less than 12 pages in newspaper format unless it is a special edition. The number of pages can however be altered if need be under the decision of the adviser and/or editorial board.
  2. Daily updates will be made to the website throughout the week during the school year. 
  3. The school newspaper will be distributed free of charge to all students according to a distribution schedule approved by the adviser and editors. 
  4. Current copies of the newspaper will also be available in the library, main office, guidance office and throughout the school. The paper is also distributed to local businesses around Burlington.
  5. Advertising revenues and fundraising are to be used to pay for printing costs, supplies and other media expenses.
  6. All budget surpluses are to be used for future production of the school media.
  7. The paper will be distributed during the first hour on the day of publication.
  8. The school newspaper will accept subscriptions for the price of $25 for the entire year.
  9. Total press run each issue is approximately 500 unless specified otherwise by adviser or editorial board.
  10. Exchange publications are received and displayed in the journalism laboratory.
  11. Exchange publications are mailed to other media rooms across the US.

N:  REGARDING LETTERS TO THE EDITOR AND ONLINE COMMENTS

  1. Letters to the editor will be printed in the opinion section of the newspaper or on the website.
  2. Guidelines to write letters to the editor will be printed on every issue on page two of the paper and available online at bhsregister.com.
  3. Letters to the editor may be emailed to [email protected]
  4. Letters to the editor should not exceed 250 words, must be signed and must include a phone number for verification.
  5. Letters to the editor will be verified by a member of the editorial board to determine the authenticity of the writer.
  6. No material will be printed where content is obscene, invasive of privacy, encouraging physical disruption of school activities, and/or implies libel.
  7. The Register editorial board 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. Online comments will require a name and email address submitted that are verifiable.
  9. Online comments will be approved prior to being posted.
  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.

O:  REGARDING REVIEWS

  1. The reviewer must have experience in the area in which they are reviewing.
  2. All reviews will be bylined and all reviews will be expressed opinions of authors, the editorial board and newspaper staff does not express opinions on the subject matter.
  3. All reviews will be to evaluate and inform, not to promote.
  4. Evaluative criteria used will be determined by the editorial board depending on whether the event or item being reviewed is professional or amateur in nature.
  5. Review ideas may be submitted to the editorial board by all members of The Register.
  6. All reviews need to be reviewed and printed in a current and timely manner.

P: SOCIAL MEDIA

  1. Social media will be used to promote The Register, to promote published content and to engage the greater BHS community.
  2. The editorial board reserves the right to remove comments that violate any provisions hitherto outlined by this policy.
  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 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 and any deleted posts should be acknowledged in subsequent postings.

Q:  PRIOR REVIEW POLICY

  1. Sources will be able to have quotes read back at the time of interview or at reporter’s initiative.
  2. Sources will not be able to arbitrarily demand to read the reporter’s completed story and then perform editing tasks on that story.
  3. The media reporters will endeavor to 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.
  4. The media reporters will not, within all boundaries of law, reveal a source who asks to remain nameless.
  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 media will not be reviewed by anyone outside of the editorial board 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.

R: TAKEDOWN POLICY

The Register’s primary purpose is to publish the truth, as best we can determine it, and be an accurate record of events and issues from students’ perspectives. Writers and editors use the guidelines of the editorial policy before publication to ensure the validity, newsworthiness and ethics of each article. For these reasons, the editorial board will not take down past articles except in extraordinary circumstances.

If someone requests a takedown, the board will consider the following questions and actions:

  • Does the article contain libel, inaccurate information, unwarranted invasion of privacy, obscenity or copyright infringement? If so, the editor-in-chief will remove this unprotected speech and add a corrections statement at the end of the article online. If, after careful investigation and discussion, the editorial board determines that the article is too heavily saturated with this unprotected speech to maintain, the board may decide to take the article down entirely. The board must come to consensus to make this decision.
  • Does the article harm the requester so significantly that it outweighs all other factors? The editorial board will investigate this claim and weigh it against the value of an unaltered historical record. The board must come to consensus before taking down an article for this reason.
  • Regardless of the outcome, the Editor-in-Chief will respond in writing to the request explaining the board’s action(s) and rationale for the final decision.

VI: STAFF POLICY FOR SELECTION AND DISMISSAL

  1. 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 editorial board.
  2. New and returning staff are judged by application, previous work, potential and prerequisite class work.
  3. Applicants are not turned down because of age, race, sex, religion, mental or physical handicap that do not impair editorial responsibilities.
  4. Staff applications are due in January of each year prior to registration.
  5. The staff and editors are selected prior to registration each January. The adviser reserves the right to make changes to the list as they deem necessary after the registration deadline.
  6. Editor titles and positions are not named until after all media have finalized publication for the previous year.
  1. REGARDING STAFF DISMISSAL
  1. All individuals involved with BHS media 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 following violations occur:
    1. Continuously missed deadlines (dismissal procedures will take place by choice of adviser and editors)
    2. Plagiarism
    3. Quote falsification
    4. Vandalism or theft of publication equipment
    5. Continuous negative or pessimistic attitude toward staff member or adviser
    6. Submitting an advanced page design, story, photo or other publishable item to anyone outside the media staff without approval by the editorial board
    7. Two suspensions in one academic year
    8. Failing to fulfill job as outlined in job description
  1. Major infractions will result in immediate dismissal from staff duties and dismissal from class and staff at the end of semester (major infractions include but are not limited to following: plagiarism, vandalism, theft).
  2. 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 the end of semester.
  3. Warnings will be written and signed by the adviser and editor-in-chiefs, as well as staff members in question.
  4. An editor will be stripped of his her title if suspended.
  5. First misdemeanor or arrest will result in the loss of editor’s title, and second will result in dismissal from staff.
  6. Each member of the editorial board and adviser will attend a meeting with potentially dismissed students to discuss the issue, and the adviser will make the final decision.
  7. The academic nature of the school newspaper class allows removal of editors or staff members when school and or established media policy is violated.
  8. The above list infractions could all result in dismissal however, staff dismissals are not limited to the listed infractions.
  9. A dismissed staff member receiving academic credit may be given a grade of F and will not be allowed to register for any other journalism courses (will not preempt school policy).
  10. Dismissal procedures are reviewed and approved by the editorial board
  11. The dismissed staff member may appeal their dismissal in writing to the editorial board within three school days following dismissal
  12. All dismissal appeals will be directed to the building principal and the editorial board

VII. QUERIES

  1. Questions or complaints concerning material published in the media should be made in writing to the editor in chief(s) who will present the concern at the next scheduled editorial board meeting.
  2. Complaints and suggestions may be emailed to [email protected]
  3. Resolutions will be made within limits of deadlines.

VIII. PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATION

  1. The Register should be a member of regional, national, and/or international organizations.
  2. Such organizations include the New England Scholastic Press Association, Columbia Scholastic Press Association, National Scholastic Press Association and the Journalism Education Association.
  3. The Register shall strive to attend at least one regional and/or national conference or convention per year.
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Editorial Policy