The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

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Mission Statement for Student Media

It is our mission that in all production courses students will create in a variety of media, communications for students, about students and by students. These will be produced to a standard at or above state standards for curriculum with a target of professional quality work.

Further, the core values of the department are integrity, collaboration, excellence and service.

 

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I. STATEMENT OF POLICY

Freedom of expression and press freedom are fundamental values in a democratic society. The mission of any institution 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, school officials are responsible for encouraging and ensuring freedom of expression and press freedom for all students.

It is the policy of the Rocklin Unified School District Board of Education that Details yearbook, The Roar news magazine and Whitney Update news website have been established as a public forum for student expression and as voices in the uninhibited, robust, free and open discussion of issues (except as noted within). Content in student media should reflect all areas of student interest, including topics about which there may be dissent or controversy.

It is the policy of the Rocklin Unified School District Board of Education that student journalists shall have the right to determine all content of student media.

II. OFFICIAL STUDENT MEDIA

A. Responsibilities of Student Journalists

Students who work on official, school-sponsored student publications or electronic media determine the content of their respective publications and are responsible for that content. They will not be subject to prior review or prior restraint. These student journalists should:

l. Determine the content of the student media;

2. Strive to produce media based upon professional standards of accuracy, objectivity and fairness based on thorough reporting, research and verification;

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 online comments for the website and social media components, determine the appropriateness and relevance, need for rebuttal comments and opinions and provide space therefore if appropriate.

B. 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.

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 school 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) School employees will be considered public officials or public figures in relationship to articles concerning their school-related activities.

(d) When an allegedly libelous statement concerns an individual who is not a public official or a public figure, school 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 school policy or the performance of teachers, administrators, school officials and other school employees.

3. Material that will cause “a material and substantial disruption of school activities.”

(a) Disruption is defined as student rioting, unlawful seizures of property, destruction of property, or substantial student participation in a school boycott, sit-in, walkout 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 school 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; school administrators 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 school with similar material, past experience in the school in dealing with and supervising the students in the school, 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) School officials must protect advocates of unpopular viewpoints.

(e) “School activity” means educational student activity sponsored by the school and includes, by way of example and not by way of limitation, classroom work, official assemblies and other similar gatherings, school athletic contests, band concerts, school plays and scheduled in-school lunch periods.

C. Legal Advice

1. If, in the opinion of a student editor, student editorial staff or faculty adviser, material proposed for publication may be “obscene,” “libelous” or would cause an “immediate, material and substantial disruption of school activities,” the editors should seek legal opinion of a practicing attorney. Editors first will contact the free legal services of the Student Press Law Center (703-807-1904).

2. Any legal fees charged in connection with the consultation will be paid by the board of education.

3. The final decision of whether the material is to be published will be left to the student editor or student editorial staff.

D. Protected Speech

1. School 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 teachers, school officials, the school 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.

E. Online Student Media and Use of Electronic Information Resources

1. Online Student Media

Online media, including websites, email, Listservs and Usenet and Bitnet discussion groups, as well as blogs, social media feeds (including but not limited to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+) may be used by students like any other communications media to reach both those within the school and those beyond it. All official, school-sponsored online student publications are entitled to the same protections.

2. Electronic Information Resources

Student journalists may use electronic information resources, including websites, email, Listservs and Usenet and Bitnet discussion groups, as well as all applicable social media tools (including but not limited to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+), to gather news and information, to communicate with other students and individuals and to ask questions of and consult with sources. Just as the purchase, availability and use of media materials in a classroom or library does not indicate endorsement of their contents by school officials, neither does making electronic information available to students imply endorsement of that content.

Although faculty 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 news gathering purposes, advisers are not responsible for approving the online resources used or created by their students.

3. Acceptable Use Policies

The Board recognizes that the technical and networking environment necessary for online communication may require that school 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 school’s online resources. The guidelines may not be used to unreasonably restrict student use of or communication involving the online 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.

 

III. 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 adviser role 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. For reference, please see SB 1370.

 

IV. PRIOR REVIEW/RESTRAINT

No student media, whether non-school-sponsored or official, will be reviewed by school officials prior to distribution or withheld from distribution. The school 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 school year. For reference, please see California Education Code 48907.

 

The policies above also are on file at Whitney High School and the district office for Rocklin Unified School District; hard copies are available upon request.

 

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Whitney High Student Media Content Statement for Publications

By virtue of the fact that the productions are student conceived, planned and produced as well as products of academic programs, there are certain guidelines that must be put into practice ethically and legally.

Journalistic in nature, the productions attempt to inform, educate and entertain their audiences in a broad, fair, thorough and accurate manner on all subjects that affect readers. The entire student body of prospective readers constitutes the primary target audience of the productions with secondary audiences of parents, school personnel, community members and other scholastic journalism groups. Content focuses on coverage that will meet the wants and needs of the majority of these students.

While the staff not only allows, but also encourages, constructive criticism of any part of the production, before or after distribution, final authority for the content rests solely in the hands of student journalists through the Whitney High Student Media editorial board (see also California Education Code 48907). No material, opinionated or otherwise, will be printed which is libelous, irresponsible, advocates an illegal activity or which the editorial board deems in poor taste.

 

Editorial leadership

The editorial board is the decision-making body. Members will be selected during spring and summer by the adviser and staff for each upcoming school year and will consist of an odd number of voting members. The adviser will attend meetings but will not vote. Members must represent all grade levels represented on the publication staff.

The board controls its own membership and may remove a member for failure to attend meetings or meet other expectations through a majority vote. If the adviser appeals that vote, the board may confirm the decision with a unanimous vote. By the same method, the board may remove staff members who are not meeting job expectations. The adviser will work with the student to continue academic work until such time as their schedule can be changed. The teacher/adviser may request a schedule change for disciplinary reasons.

All board members will vote on decisions such as policy-making or controversial content when the need arises. A majority vote determines the decision. The adviser will not vote but may advise and make suggestions or comments.

Whitney High School programs are a public forum as defined by AR 1325 and BP 1325. At all times, the editorial board will work within the guidelines of the California State Education Code 48907 and Rocklin Unified School District Board Policy 6145.3.

 

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GUIDELINES AND PUBLICATIONS PROCEDURES

These are determined by the Whitney High Student Media editorial board prior to the start of each school year and are reviewed and/or updated annual. The areas below outline for students, parents, administrators and community members how Whitney High Student Media operates in various areas of media production.

Corrections

The print publications are a $100,000+ student business produced as part of a learning experience in the curriculum, and it is not possible to reprint the book or news magazine if/when minor errors arise. The staff regrets any errors and learns from constructive feedback provided via surveys, focus groups and thoughtful email messages. The process for creating the yearbook and each issue of the news magazine is rigorous and involves multiple rounds of careful editing. Because the yearbook is printed once annually, it is not possible to run corrections. If a staff discovers, from any source, that a factual error or major mistake was published and passed the editors, the editor(s)-in-chief will issue a written apology to those affected.

Advertising

To help finance the productions, the staff may sell advertising at rates published annually. Students who appear in advertisements (other than senior tributes, which are not “selling” or “advertising” any product or service) must sign a model release. The editorial board reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of advertising and refuse sale and publication without cause. No advertising will be published for activities illegal to the youngest member of the student population.

The yearbook will sell space for senior recognition and businesses as determined by the editorial board. The staff will publish a payment and submission schedule by Sept. 1 of each year and reserves the right to refuse publication to any parent or advertise who does not meet deadlines. Payments will not be refunded.

Errors in ads and senior tributes will be addressed in the following manner.

a)      Correction of minor errors with a reprint or reprints of the ads on stickers.

b)      Partial repayment up to cost of the book for misspelled names or major errors.

c)      Complete refund only in cases of errors that are deemed to destroy the intent of the ad.

Businesses will be held to the same expectations as senior tributes. Details yearbook and The Roar news magazine will not be responsible for errors in printing caused by submissions that do not meet published specifications.

Covering death

Should a student or staff member die at any time during the current coverage period, Whitney High Student Media will treat the death in a tasteful, respectful manner.

In the yearbook people section with student/staff portraits, the portrait of that person will appear as it would under normal circumstances. Next to the portrait will appear birth date and date of passing unless the death occurs after the book’s final deadline, which is generally April 1. If deadlines allow, the death may be covered as a news event on Whitney Update or in The Roar news magazine if deemed appropriate by the editorial board, although no tribute, obituary or other memorial item will appear in the yearbook. Families and/or friends or other parties may purchase space for a memorial or tribute to appear in the advertising section of the yearbook, and may do so at the “early-bird” pricing structure regardless of purchase date, but advertising space generally is available only August-December and production of these pages is complete by January. Students may choose to cover the death as a news story and/or possible feature in the next issue of The Roar or online depending on the situation, including cause of death and timing. It is the aim of the staff to handle any such situation in a fair and sensitive manner.

Portraits

All students and school personnel must have their portrait made with the official school portrait photographer in order to be included in the current volume of the publication.

Seniors may choose to pay a minimal fee for a full portrait sitting to cover the costs of proofs. The deadline for seniors will be published during the previous spring, mailed to students over the summer and announced by at least three different methods (WHS website, posters, morning announcements, Teleparent, home mailer, The Roar, Whitney Update and so forth) during August and September leading to the Oct. 1 date. Students not pictured by the final deadline will not appear with their classmates in the senior section. By having all portraits taken by the same photographer under the same conditions, the publications staff can be assured of the highest quality reproduction of all photographs, serving the best interests of all students and staff.

All underclass photographs must be taken in a timely manner according to a schedule to be determined by the yearbook editorial board or adviser. All photos will be taken by the designated school photographer. The final make-up will be no later than Oct. 1 of each year. The school receives portraits with names and grade data attached. Details staff members will make every effort to ensure accuracy with correct names and grade levels. Students who wish to be listed as a name other than what is provided by the school and/or school photographer must contact the yearbook staff directly, in writing, by Oct. 15. The Details staff is not responsible for portraits taken but not provided to them. Errors and or corrections, if needed, will be addressed on an individual basis among the student/parent, Whitney High Student Media staff and school photographer.

Sales

Yearbooks will be on sale each year from August through January. Price will vary and increase based on a scheduled rate plan, which will be published on the WHS website, social media, yearbook website and on the printed order forms. Students who do not purchase a book in advance run the risk of not receiving one; only a small number of extra books will be ordered and will be available for late purchase on a first come, first served basis for cash or money order only. No checks will be accepted for yearbook sales during May distribution. Books are available online for purchase directly from Jostens by clicking here.

Exchanges can be made for books with minor flaws if no writing has been done in the book. If a book has been written in, then no exchange can be made unless the adviser feels the flaw in the book if of major proportion (pages missing, pages in upside down).

It will be the responsibility of the buyer to provide proof of purchase if the staff can provide no record. A valid receipt or a cancelled check deposited in the publications account will constitute proof of purchase.

Any purchased book not claimed within the calendar year it is produced will become the property of the program and the price forfeited. Students who withdraw or move away from WHS can pick up books in person or can have their yearbooks shipped to a designated address upon receipt of $7 shipping fee and forwarding address.

The staff and editorial board will determine the cost of an individual copy based on a balanced budget.

 

The Roar news magazine will be issued on campus free of charge to Whitney High School students; others interested, such as parents or community members, may purchase a paid subscription to be sent via U.S. Postal Service. Subscription copies will be mailed within three days of on-campus distribution. Each issue also will appear online here.

The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.
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