The Wichitan is a weekly newspaper produced by Midwestern State University students. The entire student body, the primary audience of readers, receives the paper each Wednesday during regular fall and spring semesters. The purpose of The Wichitan is produced to encourage engagement by the student body and to showcase students’ journalistic work while keeping students, faculty, and the community at large informed. With their support, The Wichitan can maintain a quality publication. The newspaper attempts to inform, and entertain its audience in a broad, fair and accurate manner on all subjects that affect readers. While The Wichitan staff allows and encourages constructive criticism by its adviser and other faculty, final authority for content of the paper rests solely in the hands of the editor of The Wichitan.
As the voice of the students, students who work for The Wichitan will find that no other group on campus can make such a positive difference in the campus community as the student newspaper. Staff members hold a great deal of power and therefore have a huge responsibility to be accurate, fair, thorough and timely. The standards are high.
Staff members are VOLUNTEERS until they have been officially hired and the appropriate paperwork is completed and approved by the student editor and adviser and is completed in accordance with university policy and state law. Until students are officially hired, they are owed no compensation for any works produced and are considered volunteers. It is the responsibility of the student employee to complete the hiring process, once initiated, within 72 hours or the employment agreement will be considered invalid.
The editorial staff is the decision-making body of The Wichitan. Members include the editor and section editors. The editorial staff meets weekly, along with other contributors to The Wichitan. The adviser or editor may also call unscheduled meetings. Attendance is mandatory for all editorial board members. Other contributors should attend regularly. Habitual unexcused absences are grounds for dismissal Editorial staff members are subject to review if they fail to fulfill their duties. The board may dismiss a member with a majority vote, but the editor and adviser may also choose to dismiss an editor without the approval of the editorial board with cause. The board is responsible for recommending a replacement for a vacated position, and the adviser must approve the replacement. All editorial staff will vote on issues such as policy-making decisions. A majority vote determines the decision. The adviser may make suggestions. Concerning the publication of controversial issues, the editorial staff will discuss and vote on the approach to be taken. A majority vote will be the deciding factor, including the stance of the staff editorial.
Entry-level student participants must have and must maintain a 2.0 overall grade point average and must be full-time students at Midwestern State University as indicated in the student’s official records. To advance to a leadership role such as section editor, editor, producer and the like, students must have a 2.5 cumulative grade point average and must be full-time students at Midwestern State University.
Once a staff member, paid or volunteer, accepts an assignment, there exists a commitment by that person to complete the assignment. Completion goes beyond just taking the pictures, shooting the video or writing the story. It also includes gathering complete caption information, writing that caption and typing it into the File Info fields for each electronic file. It also includes making sure the digital images are filed in the appropriate location(s) including on the photo server. For reporters, it also includes uploading the story to the website and engaging in the appropriate social media to promote the story and content. An “assignment” also includes
- Actively taking a written assignment from an editor, writer, reporter or other staff member for the Student Media;
- Verbally (or otherwise) agreeing to take a photo or write a story or otherwise produce work for The Wichitan;
- Finding good stories or action shots to take without being “told” to take them specifically for The Wichitan; or
- Write stories, shooting video or taking pictures while representing The Wichitan by using Wichitan equipment, obtaining a press credential using the name of The Wichitan or otherwise identifying yourself as a member of The Wichitan staff.
An editorial will appear in each issue of The Wichitan. Stands taken in the main editorial will represent the opinion of the staff and will not be bylined. Editorial shall be based on fair and accurate reporting and should not be published on topics about which an objective news story has not been published or is not being published in the same edition or at the same time. All other opinionated pieces, including those differing with the editorial, will be handled through cross-point columns, editors’ column, feature columns, letters-to-the-editor, exchange columns, student opinion photo forums and entertainment reviews. Such items will be clearly labeled and designed as opinion pieces and will be the opinion of the author.
Should a student, staff or faculty member die anytime during the current coverage period, The Wichitan staff will treat the death in a tasteful, respectful manner. A short obituary with the individual’s name, school activities, date of birth, date and manner of death (if appropriate) and any other pertinent information shall appear in the news section. No mug shot will be used. This uncommanding treatment will provide adequate memory of the individual for those closely associated, while not overemphasizing it for other readers.
OWNERSHIP OF WORKS PRODUCED
In accordance with The Wichitan policy, The Wichitan shares ownership with all images and other works produced on assignment for The Wichitan.
This does NOT prevent a student photographer (or other employee/volunteer) from taking pictures on their own, using their own equipment, for profit. This does NOT prevent a student reporter from working for other media outlets on campus or off. It does NOT prevent a student photographer from publishing photos they have taken on their own Web site for portfolio purposes or otherwise displaying them for portfolio purposes or from entering images in contests.
It DOES prevent a photographer from releasing any photos or video taken while on assignment from The Wichitan – as indicated above – before they are published online and/or in print. It DOES prevent a reporter from releasing works produced to other media outlets before the work is published in The Wichitan.
The Wichitan retains the rights to publish in any form photographs, videos articles or other work taken while on assignment or published in The Wichitan.
When posting to social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.), The Wichitan staff should pay attention and abide by laws regulating improper conduct like discrimination, violation of copyright laws, harassment, defamation and disclosure of confidential records. Only approved editorial staff may make posts to said social media platforms.
- Pay attention to the clarity, length, accuracy and tone of comments before posting them. Posts should be professional and in good taste
- Sign post with your real name and indicate relationship to The Wichitan. Anonymous signatures are not permitted
- Respect the view of others, whether or not you agree/disagree
- Obey the Terms of Service of any social media site or platform in which you participate
- Refrain from being confrontational or using inappropriate argument on social media sites
- Avoid spending excessive time using social media for personal reasons while working
- Ensure that the language used on social media sites is easily understood
As repeated studies of media consumers have shown, factual errors corrode the credibility of media publishing the mistakes. All student media are obligated to correct any error they make as soon as possible, no matter the level of consequence for the error. The corrections should be in a fixed, consistent location in the publication. The following procedure will be used when determining the need for a correction or clarification and how it should be implemented.
Responsibility The editor will be finally solely responsible for the publication of The Wichitan, but all members of the staff and editorial board shall take responsibility for the following actions in conjunction with the editor.
- The editor shall respond to all electronic communication, telephone communications or in-person communications regarding corrections/clarifications. All communication of such a nature will be by the editor or manager
- All staff members shall notify the adviser immediately of any corrections/clarifications that may involve legal action
- The editor in coordination with any included section editors and staff members shall determine the validity of each request for a correction or clarification by personally contacting any individuals suggesting such a need
- The editor or managing editor shall contact the staff members involved, and document that contact, on the same day the potential error is brought to his or her attention
After the editor or manager has determined a need for a correction or clarification, he or she shall adhere to the following guidelines:
- Print media will publish in the next edition all corrections and clarifications given to the publication before 5 p.m. on the day preceding publication on page 2 in a consistent location on that page
- All media will make any necessary corrections/clarifications to online material as soon as practical and shall add a note to any content that has been changed online
- Media will maintain a link to all corrections/clarifications that shall be updated as each correction/clarification has been made
Form Although the specifics may vary depending on the circumstances, in general, a correction will take the form: “In ‘<headline>’ (p. <#>, <date>), the <name of publication> <correction without restating error when possible>. <name of publication> regrets the error.” When a source believes he or she has been misquoted or otherwise attributed to mis-statements, but the editor/managing editor, after consultation with the reporter, believes the published statements were correct, a clarification may take the general form: “In ‘’ (p. <#>, ), In subsequent interviews with , they state . The stands behind the original publication.” When a correction or clarification is made online to a story that appeared in print, the publication will note that in an editor’s note to appear at the top of the online version of the article. “Information in this article, originally published has been corrected. ”
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
The newspaper staff encourages letters as they constitute a constructive avenue for student opinion, but the writer must sign the letter to be considered for publication. However, the newspaper staff has the right to withhold the name of the addresser or the entire material if it characterized by unlawful action, libel, and tastelessness or if it is deemed irresponsible. Due to space limitations, not all letters can be published, and the editorial staff reserves the right to edit all letters for appropriate placement in the paper as long as the meaning and intention of the letter remains clear and unchanged. Although the newspaper staff writes the majority of the articles appearing in The Wichitan, guest commentaries and stories may be included if the staff feels it enhances coverage of a unique topic. Gossip columns, song dedications and student best/worsts will be avoided due to the narrow audience they serve and the probability of libelous material. No material, opinionated or otherwise, will be printed which is libelous, irresponsible, advocates an illegal activity or which the editor, editorial staff and/or the adviser deem in poor taste.
Preference should not be given to certain advertisers because of their relation with the advertising manager. Advertisers must sign a contract agreeing to pay for the advertising spot purchased before the ad may be placed. The Wichitan reserves the right to reject advertising. The Wichitan is not liable for typographical errors as well as others in an ad submitted by the advertiser. Advertisements will be placed on the newspaper as long as they are not libelous, distasteful or imprudent. Advertisements should be submitted to the advertising editor four days (usually the Friday) before publication.
Collegiate journalism best serves learners and the school community when students produce free and responsible news media by balancing rights and responsibilities, applying ethical prudence and advancing the best interests of young citizens and the school mission. Source: National Scholastic Press Association Race, sex, age and religion should only be reported when such information is appropriate. Stereotyping should be avoided and stories that appear to degrade a particular group; race, gender or sexual orientation will be prohibited. In addition, racist, sexist and other condescending comments should be avoided in the newsroom.
As a general rule, no member of the staff will use anonymous sources. Use anonymous sources only if there is a compelling reason and only if the information given can be verified through another, known source. Consider sources’ motives before promising anonymity. All members of the editorial board (but not the adviser) shall, in advance, approve the use of any anonymous sources and shall approve such use only when no other source is available to provide the information in a timely fashion. When sources are not given, people will question the credibility not only of the source but also of The Wichitan.
The SPJ Code of Ethics is voluntarily embraced by thousands of writers, editors and other news professionals. The SPJ Code of Ethics is voluntarily embraced by thousands of writers, editors, journalists and other news professionals, regardless of place or platform, and is widely used in newsrooms and classrooms as a guide for ethical behavior. The code is intended not as a set of “rules” but as a resource for ethical decision-making. It is not — nor can it be under the First Amendment — legally enforceable. The 1996 SPJ National Convention adopted the present version of the code, after months of study and debate among the Society’s members
Seek Truth and Report It Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
- Never plagiarize
- Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so
- Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others
- Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status
- Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant
- Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid
- Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context
- Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two
- Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection
Minimize Harm Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.
- Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage
- Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects
- Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief
- Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance
- Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy
- Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity
- Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes
- Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges
- Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed
Act Independently Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.
- Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived
- Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility
- Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity
- Disclose unavoidable conflicts
- Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable
- Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage
- Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news
Be Accountable Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.
- Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct
- Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media. Admit mistakes and correct them promptly
- Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media
- Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others
The NPPA, a professional society that promotes the highest standards in visual journalism, acknowledges concern for every person’s need both to be fully informed about public events and to be recognized as part of the world in which we live. Visual journalists operate as trustees of the public. Their primary role is to report visually on the significant events and varied viewpoints in our common world and the faithful and comprehensive depiction of the subject at hand. Visual journalists have the responsibility to document society and to preserve its history through images. Photographic and video images can reveal great truths, expose wrongdoing and neglect, inspire hope and understanding and connect people around the globe through the language of visual understanding. Photographs can also cause great harm if they are callously intrusive or are manipulated. This code is intended to promote the highest quality in all forms of visual journalism and to strengthen public confidence in the profession. It is also meant to serve as an educational tool both for those who practice and for those who appreciate photojournalism. To that end, NPPA sets forth the following. Code of Ethics Visual journalists and those who manage visual news productions are accountable for upholding the following standards in their daily work:
- Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects
- Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities
- Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects
- Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one’s own biases in the work
- Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see
- While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events
- Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects
- Do not pay sources or subjects or reward them materially for information or participation
- Do not accept gifts, favors, or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage
- Do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of other journalists
Ideally, visual journalists should:
- Strive to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in public. Defend the rights of access for all journalists
- Think proactively, as a student of psychology, sociology, politics and art to develop a unique vision and presentation. Work with a voracious appetite for current events and contemporary visual media
- Strive for total and unrestricted access to subjects, recommend alternatives to shallow or rushed opportunities, seek a diversity of viewpoints, and work to show unpopular or unnoticed points of view
- Avoid political, civic and business involvements or other employment that compromise or give the appearance of compromising one’s own journalistic independence
- Strive to be unobtrusive and humble in dealing with subjects
- Respect the integrity of the photographic moment
- Strive by example and influence to maintain the spirit and high standards expressed in this code. When confronted with situations in which the proper action is not clear, seek the counsel of those who exhibit the highest standards of the profession. Visual journalists should continuously study their craft and the ethics that guide it
DESIGNERS, PHOTOGRAPHERS AND ILLUSTRATORS
Designers, photographers and illustrators on student media staffs are first and foremost journalists. All of the ethics that apply to reporters and editors also apply to visual journalists. All journalists must aspire to seek the truth, report comprehensively, provide balance and honor original thought. Visual journalists play an important role on a staff as they provide another avenue for readers to access and understand news. Visual journalists are not decorators. Visual journalists should work closely with editors, designers, producers and reporters to make sure visuals are integrated with narrative, telling stories, not just filling space. Videos, designs, photos, informational graphics and illustrations all enhance the experience of the reader or viewer with media.
Creativity We live in a visual society. Innovative and creative images and designs are easily accessible and widely available. Such resources should serve as resources and inspiration for student journalists who, finally, should rely upon their own ingenuity to come up with original concepts whether in print designs, online designs, infographics or photographs. Student publications should give priority to student-produced work, adhering to the appropriate laws and obtaining permission when necessary to reproduce works not created by students.
Copyright The copyright laws of the United States (and most other countries) revolve around one basic principle: works are copyrighted (either by the artist or their employer) at the time of creation. Other entities that want to reproduce works created by other individuals must obtain written permission, in advance. The Wichitan should not use any artwork created by individuals not on their staffs without written permission. Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others:
- To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords
- To prepare derivative works based upon the work
- To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
- To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works
- To display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
- To perform the work publicly (in the case of sound recordings) by means of a digital audio transmission
Fair Use The U.S. copyright law does provide for special instances in which copyrighted materials can legally be used without permission from the owner under the doctrine of fair use. The fair use of a copyrighted work for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including making multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered include:
- The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
- The nature of the copyrighted work;
- The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
- The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
In other words, for certain non-commercial, nonprofit educational purposes, including use in a student newspaper, on a news publication’s website or on a news broadcast (audio and video), a small portion of a film, audio recording or print publication, can be reproduced without first obtaining the written permission of the copyright holder, but editors should still give credit to and acknowledge the copyright holder as the source of the material.
Creative Commons The Internet makes possible the idea of universal access to research, education and culture, but legal and social systems do not always allow that idea to be realized. Legislators created copyright long before the emergence of the Internet, and current provisions in the laws can make it hard to legally perform actions users today take for granted, including copying, pasting, editing a source and posting to the Web. The default setting of copyright law requires users performing these actions, including artists, teachers, scientists, policymakers, producers of the mass media and private citizens, to receive explicit permission, granted in advance. To achieve the vision of universal access, Creative Commons helps individuals who create works provide a free, public, and standardized infrastructure that creates a balance between the reality of the Internet and the reality of copyright laws. There are six types of basic Creative Commons licenses, all of which come with clearly identifying symbols. The most accommodating of these (CC BY) lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon a work, even commercially, as long as they give credit for the original creation. The most restrictive of the licenses (CC BY-NC-ND) allows others to download works and to share them with others as long as they give credit. They can’t change them in any way or use them commercially. In short, a Creative Commons license provides a user with a form of explicit, written permission, granted in advance, legally to use copyrighted material under the guidelines provided and with the appropriate credit.
Credit Whether it is through the use of a Creative Commons license, fair use or other written permission, student editors should give appropriate credit to all published works. It is never acceptable to give credit to a photo repository or search engine such as google.com, amazon.com, youtube.com, vimeo.com or flickr.com. Instead, obtain the appropriate permission from the owner of the copyright and give the copyright owner credit. Some samples of photo credits include:
- For staff photo: Staff photo by Jane Doe
- For staff photo: Photo by Jane Doe/News staff
- For submitted photo: Photo contributed by Jack Doe, used with permission, ©2012
- For photo with Creative Commons license: Photo contributed by Shawn Newsom, CC2012
- For movie still: Photo by John Doe, Paramount Studios, used with permission
- For movie still: Photo courtesy Disney Studios, used with permission
- For video clip: Video from “The Movie” courtesy 20th Century/Fox, used with permission
Photojournalism By the nature of their profession, photojournalists document the lives of the people they cover. Their job is to share the truth, not to manipulate it. As the National Press Photographers Association states in the preamble to its Code of Ethics: “Visual journalists operate as trustees of the public. Our primary role is to report visually on the significant events and varied viewpoints in our common world. Our primary goal is the faithful and comprehensive depiction of the subject at hand. As visual journalists, we have the responsibility to document society and to preserve its history through images. “Photographic and video images can reveal great truths, expose wrongdoing and neglect, inspire hope and understanding and connect people around the globe through the language of visual understanding. Photographs can also cause great harm if they are callously intrusive or are manipulated.” Student journalists should adhere to this philosophy and should endeavor to remain unbiased and objective.
Photo illustrations When photojournalists use tools such as Adobe Photoshop to dramatically alter images, such images should be clearly false to the reader and clearly labeled, taking care never to mislead or to deceive the reader or viewer. As the preamble to the National Press Photographers Association’s Code of Ethics states: “Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.” In addition, NPPA provides photojournalists with additional guidelines as part of that organization’s Digital Manipulation Code of Ethics: “[T]he guiding principle of our profession is accuracy; therefore, we believe it is wrong to alter the content of a photograph in any way that deceives the public. As photojournalists, we have the responsibility to document society and to preserve its images as a matter of historical record.” The NPPA statement of principle concludes by stating, “Accurate representation is the benchmark of our profession. We believe photojournalistic guidelines for fair and accurate reporting should be the criteria for judging what may be done electronically to a photograph. Altering the editorial content … is a breach of the ethical standards recognized by the NPPA.” Back in 1997, two University of Oregon professors, Tom Wheeler and Tim Gleason, provided some guidelines for photojournalists about whether and how to manipulate, to alter or to enhance images. Based on those guidelines, photojournalists should answer the following questions when consider whether it is acceptable to manipulate an image for inclusion as part of a documentary news publication.
- Does the photograph represent what the photographer saw through the viewfinder? Is it a depiction of reality?
- Do the manipulations simply include routine cropping, color correction to restore the color balance to what appeared in the actual scene, or dodging/burning to improve reproduction quality?
Manipulations such as those above are considered routine would be appropriate even for documentary images when not carried to extremes. However, two more questions help refine what is acceptable and not.
- Is the proposed alternation obvious to the reader?
- Is the altered image obviously false?
With conviction, student photojournalists and editors should be able to answer “yes” to all of the questions before they should consider any manipulation for the purpose of reproducing a news/feature image or a photo illustration. If the answer to any of the questions above is “no,” editors and photojournalists should:
- Adhere to the principle of reproducing photos that represent reality. Documentary news and feature photos should not be manipulated.
- Find alternative images that either represent reality or manipulate the image to the point where the manipulation obvious to the reader and obviously false.
While it is appropriate to label a photo illustration with the appropriate credit such as “Photo illustration by Tameka Brown,” labeling the image as an illustration alone is not enough to avoid deceiving the viewer. Photo illustrations are not easy to create. Nor can they be produced quickly or cheaply. Allow time — lots of time — to conceptualize, obtain the props and to produce the illustration. Photo illustrations should be clearly staged. A reader should never wonder whether the photo was real. In Ken Kobre’s Photojournalism: The Professionals’ Approach, Jay Koelzer, a photographer with the Rocky Mountain News, an award-winning newspaper that closed in 2009, said, “The photographer needs to take the reader somewhere outside the bounds of reality and the printed page. …[M]ake people think.” Never set up a photo illustration to mimic reality.
Illustrations/artwork Like photojournalists, artists producing infographics or simple graphics for news publications, whether online, in video or in print, have an obligation to provide their readers with information as well as to entice and to entertain the viewer. They should never produce designs or graphics that deceive or mislead the readers or viewers. The Society for News Design Code of Ethics stresses the importance of accuracy, honesty, fairness, inclusiveness and courage in all aspects of mass media coverage. “Logic and literalness, objectivity and traditional thinking have their important place, but so must imagination and intuition, responsible creativity and empathy.” (Designers, photographers and illustrators section contributed by Dr. Bradley Wilson)