the Epic

the Epic’s Editorial Policies

Staff Policies of the Epic

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

First Amendment to the United States Constitution

“Students of the public schools shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press including, but not limited to, the use of bulletin boards, the distribution of printed materials or petitions, the wearing of buttons, badges, and other insignia, and the right of expression in official publications, whether or not such publications or other means of expression are supported financially by the school or by use of school facilities, except that expression shall be prohibited which is obscene, libelous or slanderous. Also prohibited shall be material which so incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts on school premises or the violation of lawful school regulations, or the substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.

       Each governing board of a school district and each county board of education shall adopt rules and regulations in the form of a written publications code, which shall include reasonable provisions for the time, place, and manner of conducting such activities within its respective jurisdiction.

       Student editors of official school publications shall be responsible for assigning and editing the news, editorial, and feature content of their publications subject to the limitations of this section. However, it shall be the responsibility of a journalism adviser or advisers of student publications within each school to supervise the production of the student staff, to maintain professional standards of English and journalism, and to maintain the provisions of this section.

       There shall be no prior restraint of materials prepared for official school publications except insofar as it violates this section. School officials shall have the burden of showing justification without undue delay prior to any limitation of student expression under this section.

          “Official school publications” refers to material produced by students in the journalism, newspaper, yearbook, or writing classes and distributed to the student body either free or for a fee. Nothing in this section shall prohibit or prevent any governing board of a school district from adopting otherwise valid rules and regulations related to oral communication by students upon the premises of each school.

An employee shall not be dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliated against solely for acting to protect a pupil engaged in the conduct authorized under this section, or refusing to infringe upon conduct that is protected by this section, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, or Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution.”  

California Education Code, Section 48907

Mission Statement

the Epic is an open forum created by and for the students of Lynbrook High School. In order to serve our readers, the staff of the Epic seeks to report on events, issues, and ideas relevant to the Lynbrook community in a manner that is professional, unbiased, accurate, and thorough. the Epic strives to provide a full opportunity for all students, staff, and community members to inquire, question and exchange ideas. Therefore, content should reflect all areas of student interest, including topics about which there might be controversy or disagreement. the Epicmaintains the highest ethical standards with regard to fairness, personal and legal rights, responsibilities and accuracy based on the Code of Ethics created by the Society of Professional Journalists. The content of the Epic is not subject to prior review of any kind. We also strive for a high level of competency in the technical aspects of writing.

Legal Protections

Staff members are protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution and by Section 48907 of the California Education Code. It is the Adviser’s responsibility to ensure that “prohibited expression” – libel, obscenity, and material disruption, unwarranted invasion of privacy and copyright infringement – not be published. However, because the staff of the Epic determines the content of the publication, it will therefore also take full legal responsibility for what is printed. For help with legal issues, the Student Press Law Center will help you    http://www.splc.org/

Prior Review

It is the policy of the Epic that stories and pages are not to be reviewed by any non-staff members prior to publication. Under no circumstance should reporters email or show their stories to anyone outside of staff, including their interviewees. Reporters must check quotations and facts in their stories, especially if the information is controversial and/or the interview was not recorded.

Editorial Board

The Editorial Board consists of the Editors-in-Chief, Content Editors, Managing Editor, Web Director, Section Editors, Design Editor and Adviser. This group may convene to resolve conflict or ethical issues. Editorial board members have demonstrated leadership qualities through their respective efforts with the publication and a willingness to go above and beyond the course requirements.  The decisions of the Editorial Board are ruled by a 2/3 majority vote. The Adviser does not have a vote, but rather helps guide the discussion of the issues at hand.

Legal Behavior

Reporters, photographers, and the Adviser will not participate in any illegal act in pursuit of a story. Reporters are responsible for understanding the law pertaining to libel, invasion of privacy, violation of copyright and plagiarism. Members of staff discovered abusing their privileges will be subject to disciplinary action as stated in the course expectations letter. In addition, reporters who accept off-the-record information are expected to not print it.

Accuracy

All of the pieces published by the Epic are written by staff members, except for letters to the editors. All pieces are checked for accuracy, responsibility, obscenity, libel, and other problem issues. Before publication, all information will be fact-checked by the Content Editors and writers through interviews and research. Those who are accused of wrongdoing will be given the opportunity to respond to allegations, and reporters from the Epic will refrain from speculation in their articles. the Epic continually strives for the highest standards. the Epic reserves the right to go to press with any story with facts as they stand at deadline, but will always aim for completion, which could entail the publication of follow-up stories.

Corrections/Retractions

Errors of significance will be corrected in the following issue. It is the responsibility of the staff to listen for corrections after distribution and to report such mistakes to the Editors-in-Chief and the Adviser. Compiling corrections will be the job of the Editorial Board. If you believe such an error has been made, please contact us at [email protected] Corrections can be found under the letter from the editors on the second page of the newspaper.

Diversity

Reporters and photographers will make genuine efforts to include sources and subjects for photographs who represent all parts of the Lynbrook population. Diversity includes, but is not limited to: ethnicity, age, gender, and social group. The Managing Editor may keep a “black list” accessible to all staff members after each issue in an effort toward diversity.

Withholding Names

In most cases all names will be used. Withholding a name will only occur in rare cases when a student’s safety is in danger, it is required by law, or the Editorial Board deems it appropriate for the case at hand. The Adviser will be notified of the intent to withhold the subject’s name and the name of the student will not be given to the Adviser, any administrator, teacher, or anyone on staff not involved with the story.

Death of a Person on Campus

If the Epic becomes aware of a death or deaths of current or former students and/or school employees, the Epic will cover the death with at least an obituary and/or memorial. The obituary should be journalistically written with an emphasis on the person’s life and, if timely, give details of the funeral service and/or contribution details. If the deceased individual is a minor, the Epicwill first obtain permission from the deceased’s family before publishing any information regarding the cause of death. If a suicide is involved, the obituary will say “took his/her own life,” but will not give any details of the suicide. In addition, all coverage of the death will contain information about death/grief counseling and/or resources. The death may be covered more extensively if the situation warrants. This will be determined by the staff with the guidance of the Adviser. As with all content in the Epic, the Editorial Board will make the final decision about the amount of coverage.

Sensitive Issue Stories

Any story deemed by the Editorial Board to be a sensitive issue will have to meet specific guidelines.  The writing for these stories will have to go beyond the normal detail and scrutiny required for a non-sensitive issue story, possibly with the use of the “Potter’s Box” document. Each piece will have to include extensive research and 5-6 sources, one of which must be a solid “blue book” source from the professional world.  Such stories would include, but are not limited to, stories involving: sex, violence, controlled substances, religion, and race relations. In addition, before publication, each story must be read by all Editors-in-Chief and the Adviser to check for content and libel. This is in addition to the normal copy editing process.

Profanity

Stories written for the Epic will conform to language standards acceptable to a general audience. Quotes which contain any words above a PG rating will have the profanity hidden with dashes (e.g. s— or a–hole).

Sports Coverage

The staff strives to provide equal coverage to all school sports. Boys and girls sports should be covered equitably. Reporters are required to attend games and/or practice to research for their sports stories. Every effort should be made to see the subjects of sports stories in action.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor are welcome. Letters of 300 words or less should be submitted via email to [email protected] or in Mr. Miller’s box in the office. They become the sole property of the Epicand can be edited for length, clarity, or accuracy. Letters must be in response to a previously published article. Letters cannot be returned and will be published at the Epic’s discretionAll letters must be signed. A staff response is will only occur when a fact needs to be clarified. Letters longer than 300 words will be condensed for publishing as the Editorial Board sees fit.

Advertising

the Epic will accept advertisements submitted with a signed contract and full payment provided that they do not advocate illegal activity for minors or are deemed by the Editorial Board racist, sexist, or otherwise inappropriate for the Epic’s audience. Advertisements may be rejected due to space limitations or if they violate any of the above policies. Advertisements of a political nature will not be accepted.

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the Epic’s Editorial Policies