The following editorial policy is adapted from the Journalism Education Association’s model policy for student publications. It has been modified and revised for use at George C. Marshall High School.
Rank & File is the official student-produced medium of news and information published by George C. Marshall High School journalism students. Columbian is the official student-produced yearbook published by George C. Marshall High School photojournalism students. Reveille is the official student-produced literary magazine published by George C. Marshall High School creative writing students.
Together, the three publications referenced above constitute the GCM Student Media program to which the following policy applies.
Purpose of Student Media
The publications of GCM Student Media have been established as designated public forums for student expression.
The Rank & File and Columbian forums have been established so that the student editors of these publications may inform and educate their readers as well as for the discussion of issues of concern to their audience.
Reveille has been established as a forum or the submission and potential publication of literary, artistic and other creative work from the student community.
Rights and Responsibilities
- Regardless of medium or platform, the work produced by the staff members of GCM Student Media 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 and selection process.
- Because school officials do not engage in prior review, and the content of GCM Student Media publications is determined by and reflects only the views of the student staff and not school officials or the school itself, the publications’ respective student editorial boards and responsible student staff members assume complete legal and financial liability for the content of their publications.
- Electronic media (including online, broadcast and podcast media) produced by GCM Student Media students are entitled to the same protections – and subjected to the same freedoms and responsibilities – as media produced for print publication. As such they will not be subject to prior review or restraint.
- The editors and staff of GCM Student Media publications 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 newsgathering, research and content selection needs.
- GCM Student Media publications and their staffs 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.
- GCM Student Media will not publish any material determined by student editors or the relevant publication’s student editorial board 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.
- The staff of all GCM Student Media publications 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, creditability and advertising.
- Any electronic manipulations changing the essential truth of a photo or illustration will be clearly labeled if used.
The editorial board of each publication will determine its content.
Each publication’s editorial board is defined as follows:
- Rank & File: The staff’s editors-in-chief and managing editors.
- Columbian: The staff’s executive editors and managing editors.
- Reveille: The staff’s editor-in-chief and any designated co-editors.
In publications (such as Rank & File) that include unsigned editorials, the views stated in those editorials represent that of a majority of the editorial board at the time of publication.
Signed columns and reviews, as well as published creative works, represent only the opinion of the respective author.
GCM Student Media will not avoid publishing a story, photo, illustration or piece of creative work solely on the basis of possible dissent or controversy. While publication staffs should be aware of their audience and community standards, editors must also evaluate content for such qualities as newsworthiness, historical significance or journalistic/literary merit in addition to relevant legal, professional or ethical considerations.
Rank & File may accept letters to the editor, guest columns and news releases from students, faculty, administrators, community residents and the general public. The publication asks that letters to the editor, guest columns or other submissions be 300 words or less and contain the author’s name, address and signature. All submissions will be verified.
The Rank & File 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.
The editors and staff of the Reveille literary magazine will disseminate to the school community the methods by which students may submit content each year. Each submission will be reviewed and evaluated for publication on its individual merit.
The editors and staff of the Columbian yearbook may from time to time solicit contributions (including narratives, photographs and other creative content) produced by members of the public and school community. These contributions will be held to similar standards as letters to the editor and/or literary magazine submissions.
If a publication chooses to accept ads, that publication’s editorial board reserves the right to accept or reject any ad in accordance with their publications’ advertising policies.
GCM Student Media 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.
Role of the Adviser
The adviser of each publication will not act as a censor or determine the content of the publication. 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.
Legal Advice and Enforcement
Student editors 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.
The editorial board of each publication shall interpret and enforce this editorial policy.