Youth in Government Editorial Policy:

Condensed Edition

“The program assumes no liability for the content of any student publication, and urges all student journalists to recognize that with editorial control comes responsibility, including the responsibility to follow professional journalism standards each year.”- Youth in Government Editorial Policy

The Youth in Government program provides students with the chance to express their opinions and exercise their rights through the program areas of publication, legislation and judiciary. The freedom of the press and freedom of speech are essential to a fundamentals of a democracy. Press corps content will represent the interest of all delegates, whether or not the issue is controversial.

The following principles are not protected under the Youth in Government Editorial Policy and will not be considered for publication:

  1. Material that is obscene to minors
  1. Ex.
  1. Lacks serious literary value
  2. Refers to any form of sexual conduct
  3. Encourages sexual activity
  1. Libelous material
  1. Ex.
  1. False information that harms one's reputation
  2. Unjustified statements
  1. Note: material that reporter has cause to believe is true but is later proved false is not considered libelous
  1. Material that causes substantial interruption of program activities
  1. Ex.
  1. Rioting, unlawful protest, boycotts, etc.
  1. Note: However distasteful, racial, religious and ethnic slurs are not considered disruptive under these guidelines
  2. Note: Material threatening violence are not considered disruptive in and of itself unless further action of violence occurs or there is reason to believe the author has capability and intent to carry out the threat.

Under these guidelines, no content will be under Prior Restraint:

  1. This means that no student media will be reviewed or approved by advisors before publication or be withheld from distribution

Regarding Editorials, Profanity, and Controversial Issues

  1.  Editorials
  1. All editorials printed will be bylined as: “on behalf of Editorial Staff”
  1. Note: Editorial Board consists of elected members of the Press Corps
  1. The press corps will not publish any material for which there is evidence that the author is using the paper for inappropriate personal gain.
  2. The editorial board ultimately decides what will and what will not be published
  1. Profanity
  1. The editorial board will make the decision on whether content is considered profane or whether it is appropriate to the situation
  1. Note: In other words, excessive or unnecessary profanity will not be published
  1. 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.
  1. Note: An edited quote will be read back to the source prior to publishing and sources will have a chance to make changes.
  1. Controversial Issues
  1. All sides of the issue will be presented and reviewed so as to refrain from any bias, with exception of opinions.
  1. Note: In other words, don’t present opinions as fact to audience
  1. The point of an editorial is not to attack, but to enlighten the public by expressing your opinion backed by facts.
  2. When writing about a controversial issue, consider the following questions:
  1. Why is this topic of concern/ of journalistic importance?
  2. Is the information accurate and complete?
  3. Is there a logical explanation for anyone who challenges the issue?
  4. What are the consequences and is it worth risking our credibility?  

The publications will not publish any photos, illustrations, etc. that ridicule, demean, or misleadingly represent any individual or group.

If an error is pointed out to the editorial board, corrections will be made in a timely manner.

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I. STATEMENT OF POLICY

The Youth in Government program strives to provide students with the opportunity to experience democracy through publication, legislation, and judiciary involvement. One way to honor democracy is to recognize that freedom of expression and press freedom are fundamental values in a democratic society. The mission of any program committed to preparing productive citizens must include teaching students these values, both by lesson and by example.

As determined by the courts, student exercise of freedom of expression and press freedom is protected by both state and federal law, especially by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Accordingly, program officials are responsible for encouraging and ensuring freedom of expression and press freedom for all students.

It is the policy of the Youth in Government newspaper, the official, Y Youth in Government student media of Wisconsin have been established as forums for student expression and as voices in the uninhibited, robust, free and open discussion of issues.

Each medium should provide a full opportunity for students to inquire, question and exchange ideas. Content should reflect all areas of student interest, including topics about which there may be dissent or controversy.

It is the policy of Wisconsin Youth in Government that student journalists shall have the right to determine the content of student media. Accordingly, the following guidelines relate only to establishing grounds for disciplinary actions subsequent to publication.

II. Freedom of the Press

A. Delegates of Wisconsin Y Youth in Government shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press including, but not limited to, the publication of expression in Y-sponsored publications and other news media, whether or not such media or other means of expression are supported financially by the Y (B).

B. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to authorize expression by students that:

  1. is obscene as to minors as defined by state law,
  2. is libelous or slanderous as defined by state law,
  3. constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy as defined by state law, or
  4. so incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts or regulations, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the Wisconsin Youth in Government program. Y officials must base a forecast of material and substantial disruption on specific facts, including past experience in the program and current events influencing student behavior, and not on undifferentiated fear or apprehension.

C. Student editors of program-sponsored press shall be responsible for determining the news, opinion and advertising content of their media subject to the limitations of this section. It shall be the responsibility of a journalism adviser or advisers of the press corps to supervise the production of the program-sponsored media and maintain the provisions of this chapter. This section shall not be construed to prevent an adviser from teaching professional standards of English and journalism to the student staff. No journalism adviser will be fired, transferred, or removed from his or her position for refusing to suppress the protected free expression rights of student journalists.

D. No Wisconsin Youth in Government student media will be subject to prior review by Y or program administrators.

E. No expression made by students in the exercise of free speech or free press rights shall be deemed to be an expression of Y policy.

III. OFFICIAL STUDENT MEDIA

A. RESPONSIBILITIES OF STUDENT JOURNALISTS

Students who work on official, Y-sponsored student publications or electronic media determine the content of their respective publications and are responsible for that content. These students should:

l. Determine the content of the student media;

2. Strive to produce media based upon professional standards of accuracy, objectivity and fairness;

3. Review material to improve sentence structure, grammar, spelling and punctuation;

4. Check and verify all facts and verify the accuracy of all quotations; and

5. In the case of editorials or letters to the editor concerning controversial issues, determine the need for rebuttal comments and opinions and provide space therefore if appropriate.

B. PROTECTED SPEECH

1. Program and Y officials cannot:

a. Ban student expression solely because it is controversial, takes extreme, "fringe" or minority opinions, or is distasteful, unpopular or unpleasant;

b. Ban the publication or distribution of material relating to sexual issues including, but not limited to, virginity, birth control and sexually-transmitted diseases (including AIDS);

c. Censor or punish the occasional use of indecent, vulgar or so called "four-letter" words in student publications;

d. Prohibit criticism of the policies, practices or performance of advisers, program officials, the program or Y itself or of any public officials;

e. Cut off funds to official student media because of disagreement over editorial policy;

f. Ban student expression that merely advocates illegal conduct without proving that such speech is directed toward and will actually cause imminent unlawful action.

g. Ban the publication or distribution by students of material written by non-students;

h. Prohibit the endorsement of candidates for student office or for public office at any level.

2. Commercial Speech

Advertising is constitutionally protected expression. Student media may accept advertising. Acceptance or rejection of advertising is within the purview of the publication staff, which may accept any ads except those for products or services that are illegal for all students. Ads for political candidates and ballot issues may be accepted; however publication staffs are encouraged to solicit ads from all sides on such issues.

C. UNPROTECTED EXPRESSION

The following types of student expression will not be protected:

1. Material that is "obscene as to minors." "Obscene as to minors is defined as material that meets all three of the following requirements:

(a) the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the publication, taken as a whole, appeals to a minor's prurient interest in sex; and

(b) the publication depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct such as ultimate sexual acts (normal or perverted), masturbation and lewd exhibition of the genitals; and;

(c) the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

Indecent or vulgar language is not obscene.

[Note: Also see Wisconsin State statute 948.11(1)(ar)1.]

2. Libelous material. Libelous statements are provably false and unprivileged statements of fact that do demonstrated injury to an individual's or business's reputation in the community. If the allegedly libeled party is a "public figure" or "public official" as defined below, then Y officials must show that the false statement was published "with actual malice," i.e., that the student journalists knew that the statement was false or that they published it with reckless disregard for the truth without trying to verify the truthfulness of the statement.

(a) A public official is a person who holds an elected or appointed public office and exercises a significant amount of governmental authority.

(b) A public figure is a person who either has sought the public's attention or is well known because of personal achievements or actions.

(c) Y employees will be considered public officials or public figures in relationship to articles concerning their Y-related activities.

(d) When an allegedly libelous statement concerns an individual who is not a public official or a public figure, program officials must show that the false statement was published willfully or negligently, i.e., the student journalist who wrote or published the statement has failed to exercise reasonably prudent care.

(e) Students are free to express opinions. Specifically, a student may criticize program or Y policy or the performance of advisers, administrators, officials and other program employees.

3. Material that will cause "a material and substantial disruption of program activities."

(a) Disruption is defined as student rioting, unlawful seizures of property, destruction of property, or substantial student participation in a program boycott, sit-in, walk-out or other related form of activity. Material such as racial, religious or ethnic slurs, however distasteful, is not in and of itself disruptive under these guidelines. Threats of violence are not materially disruptive without some act in furtherance of that threat or a reasonable belief and expectation that the author of the threat has the capability and intent of carrying through on that threat in a manner that does not allow acts other than suppression of speech to mitigate the threat in a timely manner. Material that stimulates heated discussion or debate does not constitute the type of disruption prohibited.

(b) For student media to be considered disruptive, specific facts must exist upon which one could reasonably forecast that a likelihood of immediate, substantial material disruption to normal program activity would occur if the material were further distributed or has occurred as a result of the material's distribution or dissemination. Mere undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough; program and Y officials must be able affirmatively to show substantial facts that reasonably support a forecast of likely disruption.

(c) In determining whether student media is disruptive, consideration must be given to the context of the distribution as well as the content of the material. In this regard, consideration should be given to past experience in the program with similar material, past experience in the program in dealing with and supervising the students in the program, current events influencing student attitudes and behavior and whether there have been any instances of actual or threatened disruption prior to or contemporaneously with the dissemination of the student publication in question.

(d) Program officials must protect advocates of unpopular viewpoints.

(e) "Program activity" means student activity sponsored by the program and includes, by way of example and not by way of limitation, in chamber work, official assemblies and other similar gatherings, elections, dances, meetings, and scheduled in-program lunch periods.

D. ON-LINE STUDENT MEDIA AND USE OF ELECTRONIC INFORMATION RESOURCES

1. On-Line Student Media.

On-line media, including Internet Web sites, e-mail, and discussion groups, may be used by students like any other communications media to reach both those within the program and those beyond it. All official, program-sponsored on-line student publications are entitled to the same protections and are subject to no greater limitations than other student media, as described in this policy.

2. Electronic Information Resources

Although advisers to student media are encouraged to help students develop the intellectual skills needed to evaluate and appropriately use electronically available information to meet their newsgathering purposes, advisers are not responsible for approving the on-line resources used or created by their students.

3. Acceptable Use Policies

The Y recognizes that the technical and networking environment necessary for on-line communication may require that program officials define guidelines for student exploration and use of electronic information resources. The purpose of such guidelines will be to provide for the orderly, efficient and fair operation of the program’s on-line resources. The guidelines may not be used to unreasonably restrict student use of or communication on the on-line media.

Such guidelines may address the following issues: file size limits, password management, system security, data downloading protocol, use of domain names, use of copyrighted software, access to computer facilities, computer hacking, computer etiquette and data privacy.

IV. ADVISER JOB SECURITY

The student media adviser is not a censor. No person who advises a student publication will be fired, transferred or removed from the advisership by reason of his or her refusal to exercise editorial control over student media or to otherwise suppress the protected free expression of student journalists.

V. PRIOR RESTRAINT

No student media, will be reviewed by Y officials prior to distribution or withheld from distribution. The program assumes no liability for the content of any student publication, and urges all student journalists to recognize that with editorial control comes responsibility, including the responsibility to follow professional journalism standards each year.

VI. CONTENT OF WISCONSIN YOUTH IN GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER

1. THE EDITORIAL BOARD

  1. The editorial board will consist of all student editors.
  2. The editorial board decides on all decisions that pertain directly Wisconsin Youth in Government press and their interests.

      (c) No member of the editorial board shall have more than one vote on the board.

      (d) All members of the editorial board are expected to know their duties and jobs in the room and must understand the consequences of not fulfilling said jobs.

      (e) The duly appointed editor-in-chief shall interpret and enforce this editorial policy.

2. REGARDING PROFANITY

      (a) The press will not print unnecessary profanity.

      (b) The editorial board will make the decision on whether content is considered profane or whether it is a cultural or non-vulgar slang term.

     (c) 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.

     (d) Any edited quote will be read back to the source prior to publishing and sources will have a chance to make changes.

     (e) Staff interviewers have the right to ask a source when necessary to repeat a quote without the use of profane language.

3.  REGARDING EDITORIALS

    (a)All editorials printed will be bylined as: “on behalf of Editorial Staff”.

    (b)Editorial ideas may be submitted to the editorial board by all members of the appropriate staff.

    (c) All printed editorial subject matter will be determined by the editorial board.

    (d) The press corps will not publish any material for which there is evidence that the author is using the paper for inappropriate personal gain.

    (e) The media will endeavor to provide a chance for comment on all sides of a critical issue in the same edition.

    (f) The editorial board, which consists of any elected student, 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.

4. REGARDING CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

    (a) All coverage of controversial issues will occur upon a timely subject.

    (b) All sides of the issue will be presented and reviewed so as to refrain from any bias, with exception of opinions.

    (c) In news, all sides of a progra , community, city, state, national, or international political issue will be presented factually so as to inform rather than promote or endorse.

    (d) The press corps will not publish material that is unnecessarily obscene, libelous, unwarranted invasive of privacy.

    (e) The press corps will not attack

    (f) If question 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:

i. Why is it a concern?

ii. What is it’s journalistic purpose?

iii. Is the information accurate and complete?

iv. Are any important POV omitted?

v. How would we feel if the story was about ourselves or someone we know?

vi. What are the consequences’ of the publication?

vii. Is there a logical explanation to anyone who challenges issue?

viii. Is it worth risking our credibility?

ix. What are the alternatives?

3.  REGARDING ILLUSTRATIONS, PHOTOGRAPHS, GRAPHICS, ETC.

   (a) All cutlines will record the who and other necessary information in the photo.

   (b) All photographs must be captioned and bylined, with the exception of mugs and cutouts.

   (c) Bylines are required on all online photos and galleries.

   (d) Any photographs that contain any inappropriate attire or actions must be reshot.

   (e) Artwork represents the interpretations of the artist, not necessarily of the staff or the program.

   (f) The publications will not publish any photos, illustrations etc. that ridicule, demean, or misleadingly represent any individual or group.

  (g) Electronic manipulations changing the essential truth of  the photo or illustration will be clearly labeled if  used.

4. REGARDING ERRORS

  (a) Concerns about errors in the press corps may be submitted through the adviser.

  (b) The editorial board retains the right to determine whether, in fact, an error has been made.

  (c) Known and or found errors that are brought to the attention of the press corps will be addressed regardless if realized by author, audience, or staff member.

  (d) 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.

  (e) Major corrections are determined by the editors and adviser.

  (f) 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.

5. SOCIAL MEDIA

  (a) Social media will be used to promote the Wisconsin Youth in Government press corps, to promote published content and to engage the YIG community.

  (b) The editorial board reserves the right to remove comments that violate any provisions hitherto outlined by this policy.

  (c) 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.

  (d) The official social media accounts should avoid promotion of events and remain objective, reporting what is fact. Reporters using personal social media to cover events should do the same.

  (e) Information gained through social media channels should be verified through multiple channels before passing it along to others.

  (f) Audience engagement through social media should be done in a professional manner.

  (g) Staff members using applications to post updates to social media accounts should have separate applications for their personal account and for the press corps accounts. This will limit the chance of a post being sent from the wrong account.

  (h) 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.