Editorial Policy

The Bengal Cry is the official student news site of Sterling High School.

  1. Freedom of the Press

The Bengal Cry believes it is essential to preserve the freedom of the press in order to preserve a free society. Therefore:

  • This school news site will serve the best interest of the students of Sterling High School and keep itself free from any obligation.
  • The staff of the school news site will accept guidance from its adviser, but will make its own editorial decisions.
  • Only the editorial board may veto any material intended for publication, judge to be in violation of the Bengal Cry editorial policy.
  • This school news site will vigorously resist all attempts at censorship, particularly prepublication censorship.
  1. The Editorial Board
  • The editorial board will consist of staff editors.
  • No member of the editorial board shall have more than one vote on the board
  • The school news site editorial board will elect replacements for board members that have been dismissed.
  1. The Adviser
  • The adviser is a professional teaching staff member and is in charge of the class just as in a normal classroom situation.
  • The adviser is a certified English/language arts teacher that serves as a professional role model, motivator, catalyst for ideas and professionalism, and an educational resource.
  • The adviser provides a journalistically professional learning environment and experience for students by allowing them to make the decisions of content for the publication and ensuring the publication will remain an open forum.
  • The adviser guides the newspaper staff in accordance with approved editorial policy and aids the educational process related to producing the news site.
  • The adviser may caution, act as legal consultant and educator in terms of unprotected speech, has no power of censorship or veto except for constitutionally valid reasons. The adviser sits on the editorial board of the news site in an advisory capacity, only voting in instances of a deadlock.
  • The adviser will submit the school news site and contributions of students to rating services and contests so the school news site receives feedback.
  • The adviser provides information to the staff about journalism scholarships and other financial aid, and makes available information and contacts concerning journalism as a career.
  • The adviser works with the faculty and administration to help students understand the freedoms accorded the students and the professional goals of the school news site.
  1. The Sterling High School Administration
  • The Sterling High School administration will provide the students of Sterling High School with a qualified journalism teacher to serve as a professional role model, adequate equipment, and space for a sound journalism program.
  • The school news site staff and/or adviser may seek advice from the administration on blog content at any point in production.
  • The Sterling High School administration will offer equal opportunity to all students to participate in journalism programs regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, gender expression, religion or belief system, mental or physical ability, economic status, or legal status.
  • The Sterling High School administration may caution, act as legal consultant, and educator but has no power of censorship or veto power except for constitutionally valid reasons.
  1. Purpose of the School News site
  • The role of the school news site is to inform, interpret, and entertain through accurate and factual reports.
  • The school news site is to serve as an educational laboratory experience for those on staff.
  • The school news site will run as an open forum.
  • The school news site will strive to be accurate, fair, impartial, and responsible in its coverage of issues that affect the Sterling High School community.
  • The goal of the school news site is to cover the total school population as effectively and accurately as possible.
  1. Regarding Profanity
  • The school news site will not print any profanity including slang, cultural, or colloquial terms.
  • The board reserves the right to edit quotes for profanity or possible offensive words.
  • Any edited quote will be shown to the source prior to publication.
  • The editorial board will make the determination as to whether specific words will be considered profane or offensive.
  1. Regarding Content
  • The editorial board determines content, priority, placement, and space given to all material.
  • The school news site will not publish any material that is obscene, libelous, invasive of others’ privacy, or that encourages physical disruption of school activities.
  • The school news site will not publish any attack material regarding individuals, culture, race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual identity, gender expression, religion or belief system, mental or physical ability, economic status, or legal status.
  • The school news site will not publish any material for which there is evidence that the author is using the blog for inappropriate personal gain.
  • The school news site does not criticize policy without providing for solutions or alternatives.
  • The school news site will endeavor to provide a chance for comment on all sides of a critical issues in the same edition.
  • The editorial board reserves the right to refuse any material not deemed up to the standards the newspaper has set.
  • The editorial board retains the right to amend this policy if the need arises.
  • This editorial policy requires the signature of the building principal for validation.
  1. Regarding Staff Writing
  • All writing in the school news site, other than letters to the editor, will be written by the Bengal Cry staff and students in the school’s journalism courses.
  • The school news site will not accept writing, except for letters to the editor, form anyone other than the school news site and students in the school’s journalism courses.
  • The school news site will not accept guest columns.
  1. Regarding Editorials
  • All editorials published will be bylined as: On behalf of the Editorial Staff
  • Editorial ideas may be submitted to the editorial board by all members of the news site staff.
  • All published editorial subject matter will be determined by the editorial board.
  • All individual staff columns will be bylined.
  • The photographs of writers of standing columns will appear with the columns.
  • Sports columns will be tagged “sports” in the blog’s directory.
  1. Regarding Controversial Issues
  • All sides of the issue will be presented and reviewed so as to refrain from any bias.
  • 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.
  • The issue will be brought to the editorial board who must consider the following questions before publication on the blog:
    1. Why is it a concern?
    2. What is the journalistic purpose?
    3. Is the information accurate and complete?
    4. Are any important points of view omitted?
    5. How would we feel if the story was about ourselves or someone we know?
    6. What are the consequences of publication?
    7. What are the alternatives?
    8. Is there a logical explanation to anyone who challenges the issue?
    9. Is this a mountain we want to die on?
  1. Regarding Letters to the Editor
  • Letters to the Editor will be published with the tag “opinion” in the site’s directory.
  • Letters must be signed by the author and verified for publication by the editorial board.
  • Letters to the editor may be submitted to Mr. Blake’s mailbox or emailed to shsbengalcry@gmail.com.
  • Letters to the editor should not exceed 400 words, must be signed, and must include the writer’s address/e-mail address and phone number for verification.
  • All letters to the editor will be verified by a member of the editorial board to determine the authenticity of the writer.
  • No material will be printed where content is obscene, invasive of others’ privacy, encourages physical disruption of school activities, or implies libel.
  • The editorial board reserves the right to have letters edited for length, grammar, punctuation, clarity, etc.
  • If editing is required, the letter will be sent to the author for consent.
  • The school news site will publish only on letter per author per issue.
  • All letters to the editor become the property of the school news site upon receipt and will not be returned.
  1. Regarding Trivia
  • The school newspaper will not published gossip columns, popularity polls, April Fool’s editions, senior superlatives, wills and testaments, etc.
  • The editorial board retains the right to determine what material is considered trivia.
  1. Regarding Reviews
  • The reviewers must have experience in the area in which they are writing reviews.
  • All reviews will be bylined and all reviews will be the expressed opinions of the signed authors; the editorial board and news site staff does not express opinions on these matters.
  • All reviews will be to evaluate and to inform, not to promote.
  • 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.
  • Review ideas may be submitted to the editorial board by all members of the news site staff.
  • All printed review matter will be determined by the editorial board.
  1. Regarding Bylines
  • All articles, graphics, photographs, art, columns, pages, and reviews printed will be bylined unless determined otherwise by the editorial board.
  • All editors will be bylined.
  • All bylined writers will be held accountable for their work.
  • Shared bylines will be used when determined by a member of the editorial board.
  1. Regarding News and Features
  • The school news site will specialize in and emphasize coverage of school news.
  • The school news site will cover community, state, national, and international news if it is directly relevant to the school community and includes a local angle.
  • The school news site will strive to provide equitable coverage to all school organizations and functions.
  • The school news site will focus on issues before personalities.
  • When faced with undesirable news such as students, staff, or faculty crime, the school news site will endeavor to publish the facts correctly, explain the issues, and put a stop to any speculative stories that inevitably develop.
  1. Regarding Deaths
  • Any current student, staff member, faculty member, or building administrator that dies during the year will be recognized in the school news site.
  • The school news site will publish factual information (date of birth, date of death, survivors, organizations, hobbies, and interests) in a 300-word obituary and include one portrait photograph if possible.
  • The school news site will first obtain permission from the deceased’s family before publishing any information regarding the cause of death.
  • The school news site will treat all deaths in a tasteful and respectful manner.
  • An issue should not be dedicated to or in memory of the deceased.
  1. Regarding Illustrations, Photographs, Graphics, Etc.
  • The who, what, where, when, why, and how of all photographs taken will be recorded whether of individuals, places, or things.
  • All photographs must be captioned.
  • Photographs published in the school blog are displayed as taken; photographs will not be flipped, stretched, or distorted.
  • In any photographs that must be reshot due to inappropriate attire or actions by the individuals in the photo, those individuals will pay for all additional photo expenses.
  • Artwork represents the interpretations of the artist, not necessarily the news site staff or Sterling High School.
  • The school news site will not publish any photographs, illustrations, etc., that ridicule, demean, or misleadingly represent any individual or group.
  1. Regarding Errors
  • Concerns about errors in the school news site may be submitted to the school news site through the adviser (blakei@re1valleyschools.org) or they can be submitted to room 253.
  • The editorial board retains the right to determine whether, in fact, an error has been made.
  • Known and or found errors that are brought to the attention of the school newspaper will be addressed regardless if realized by author, audience, or staff member.
  • The school news site will work to correct errors in the first subsequently published issues after the error has been located and acknowledged.
  • Corrections will appear in a corrections box on the school news site.
  1. Regarding Advertising
  • The school news site will not accept advertising for products that are illegal for minors to purchase, consume, or use.
  • Students not of legal age whose photographs appear in an advertisement of the school news site or end-of-term magazine will be required to sign a model release form, as will their legal guardian(s).
  • The school news site will not run advertising without the proper signature on an advertising contract, which explains the terms of payment, the content, size, and publishing dates, and which includes an attached layout.
  • The school news site will not accept personal or classified advertisements.
  • All ads need to be approved by the editorial board. Any ad not deemed appropriate by the board will not run.
  • The school news site will cease to publish advertising of any advertiser that does not meet the payment obligations specified in the school contract.
  • All advertisers will received a complimentary issue of the end-of-term magazine.
  • If a published advertisement is incorrect in substantive content a reduced price or corrected run will be negotiated.
  • Advertisements that appear in the Bengal Cry are not necessarily endorsed by the Bengal Cry or its staff members, editorial board, or adviser.
  • All ads are billed on the November 1st and April 1st, unless alternative arrangements are made with the adviser. Bills that are not settled by December 1st and May 1st will incur an additional fee of 30% of the original balance. An additional fee of 30% of the original balance will be added the first of each month until the bill is paid.
  • If an advertiser fails to produce payment by the end of the academic year, an ad will be run in the Sterling Journal-Advocate stating that the advertiser still has not paid its bill to the Bengal Cry.
  • All controversial advertising will be discussed by the editorial board.
  1. Regarding Distribution and Circulation
  • The primary format of the Bengal Cry will be published on-line at (WEBSITE) on the third Friday of each month unless specified otherwise by the adviser and editorial board.
  • The end-of-term magazine will begin at no less than 16 pages in tabloid format; the number of pages can, however, be altered if need be, under the decision of the adviser and the editorial board.
  • The end-of-term magazine will be distributed free of charge to all students, staff, faculty, and building administrators.
  • Current copies of the end-of-term magazine will also be displayed in the library, main office, and guidance office.
  • Advertising revenues and fund-raising are to be used to pay for the school news site’s website, domain name, printing costs, supplies, and other expenses.
  • All budget surpluses are to be used for future production of the school news site.
  • The blog will be published before lunch on the day of publication. The end-of-term magazine will be distributed before lunch on the day of publication.
  • Total press run of each end-of-term magazine will be approximately 2,000.
  1. Regarding Staff Dismissals
  • The Bengal Cry is considered a team. Each member is expected to complete all assigned stories, pages, photos, etc. on or before the deadline assigned. Staff members, including editors, may be dismissed from their positions or the Bengal Cry staff itself if any of the following violations occur:
    • Continuously missed deadlines
    • Plagiarism
    • Quote falsification
    • Vandalism or theft of publication equipment
    • Continuous negative or pessimistic attitude toward a staff member or the adviser.
    • Submitting a page designed by any staff member to anyone outside of the Bengal Cry
    • Two suspensions in one academic year.
    • Failing to fulfill job as outlined in the job description.
  • Major infractions will result in immediate dismissal from staff duties and dismissal from the class and staff at the end of the semester (major infractions included, but are not limited to, the following: plagiarism, vandalism, and theft).
  • Minor infractions will be given a written warning for the first one. The second one in any academic year will result in immediate dismissal from staff duties and dismissal from the class and staff at the end of the semester.
  • Warnings will be written and signed by adviser and editor-in-chief(s), and the staff member in question as well as their legal guardian(s).
  • An editor will be stripped of their title if suspended.
  • Each member of the editorial board and the adviser will attend a meeting with the potentially dismissed student to discuss the issue. The adviser will the make the final decision.
  • The academic nature of the school journalism course allows removal of editors or staff members when school and/or established news site policy is violated.
  • The above listed infractions could all result in a staff dismissal. However, staff dismissals are not limited to the listed infractions.
  • Dismissed staff members 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).
  • Dismissal procedures are reviewed and approved by the editorial board.
  • Dismissed staff members may appeal their dismissal in writing to the editorial board within three school days following the dismissal.
  • All dismissal appeals will be directed to the building principal.
  1. Queries
    • Questions or complaints concerning material published in the school news site should be made in writing to the editor-in-chief(s), who will present the concern at the next scheduled editorial board meeting.
    • Resolutions will be made within the limits of deadlines.
  1. Professional Affiliations
  • The school news site should be a member of state, national, and/or international organizations.
  1. Prior Review Policy
  • Sources will be able to review their quotes at the time of interview or at the reporter’s initiative.
  • Sources will not be able to arbitrarily demand to read the reporter’s completed story and then perform editing tasks on that story.
  • The school news site reporters will endeavor to include the name and/or 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, and/or emotional anguish for the source.
  • The school news site reporters will not, within all boundaries of the law, reveal a source who asked to remain nameless.
  • All school newspaper interviewers will respect the interviewee’s rights to have information remain “off the record” if that fact is known before giving the information to the interviewer.
  • The school news site will not be reviewed by the administration prior to its relase to the public.
  1. Editor and Staff Selection Process
  • The editor-in-chief and other editors are chosen by the faculty adviser and previous year’s editor-in-chief(s).
  • New and returning staff members are judged by application, interview, previous work, and prerequisite class work.
  • Applications are not turned down because of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, gender expression, religion or belief system, mental or physical ability, economic status, or legal status that do not impair their editorial responsibilities.
  1. Online edition
  • As the Bengal Cry is primarily a news site, only stories written and photos taken by those on staff or enrolled in a journalism course will appear in the news site, with the exception of the pictures received by public request and consent by the news site staff.
  • The content of the news site will follow the rules of the Bengal Cry
  • The web site will be updated weekly.
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