CHS Today

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CHS Today

CHS Today

Editorial Policy


“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….”

-The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America

“The vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools.”

-Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

The CHS Student Media Editorial Policy pertains to all CHS Student Media, including the news site, yearbook, broadcast productions, CHSToday Magazine, Literary Magazine, and CHS Student Media social media accounts.


CHS Student Media is the official student-produced media published/produced by CHS Media students. Student publications have been established as designated public forums for student editors to inform and educate their readers as well as for the discussion of  issues of  concern to their audience. It will not be reviewed or restrained by school officials prior to publication or distribution.  Advisers may – and should coach and discuss content – during the writing process.

Because school officials do not engage in prior review, and the content of CHS Student Media is determined by and reflects only the  views of  the student staff  and not school officials or the school itself.  Its student editorial board and responsible student staff  members assume complete legal  and financial liability for the content of  the publication.


As it is essential to preserve the freedom of the press in order to preserve a free society,

  1. The media will serve the best interest of the students and faculty of Conifer High School, keeping itself free from any commercial obligations distracting from this purpose; this is defined by the media itself;
  2. Any decisions affecting the publications on all levels will be made by the editorial board, the adviser is allowed to give legal advice and his/her opinion, but the final decision rests in the hands of the editorial board;
  3. Only the editorial board may prevent material it judges to be in violation of the media editorial policy, from being printed;
  4. All media will vigorously resist all attempts at censorship, particularly pre-publication censorship;
  5. All media retain the right to publish any and all material attained through an interview by a staff member of the publications staff, holding that the interviewee was made aware that the information could be published in any form at any time;
  6. All student media referenced in this editorial policy are designated public forums;
  7. Student journalists may use print and electronic media to report news and information, to communicate with other students and individuals, to ask questions of  and consult with experts and to gather material to meet their newsgathering and research needs;
  8. CHS Media and its staff  are protected by and bound to the principles of  the First Amendment and other protections and limitations afforded by the Constitution and the various laws and  court decisions  implementing those principles;
  9. CHS Media will not publish any material determined by student editors or the student editorial board to be unprotected, that is, material that is libelous, obscene, materially disruptive of  the school  process, an unwarranted invasion of  privacy, a violation of  copyright  or a  promotion of  products or services unlawful (illegal) as to minors  as defined  by state or  federal law;
  10. Definitions and examples for the above instances of  unprotected speech can be found in Law of  the Student Press published by the Student Press Law Center.
  1. The editorial board will consist of all student staff editors.
  2. The editorial board decides on all decisions that pertain directly to CHS media and their interests.
  3. No member of the editorial board shall have more than one vote on the board.
  4. All members of the editorial board and the adviser will elect a replacement for board members who have been dismissed.
  5. The student editor and staff  who want appropriate outside legal advice regarding proposed content – should seek attorneys knowledgeable in media law such as those of  the Student Press  Law Center. Final content decisions and responsibility shall remain with the student editorial board.
  6. The duly appointed editor or co-editors shall interpret and enforce this editorial policy.


  1. The adviser is a professional teaching staff member and is in charge of the class just as in a conventional classroom situation.
  2. Is a certified journalism teacher that serves as a professional role model, motivator, and an educational resource.
  3. Provides a journalistic, professional learning atmosphere for students by allowing them to make the decision of content for the media and ensuring the media will remain an open forum.
  4. Guides the newspaper staff in accordance with approved editorial policy and aids the educational process related to producing the newspaper.
  5. May caution, act as legal consultant and educator in terms of unprotected speech, but has no power over censorship or veto except for constitutionally valid reasons.
  6. Will submit the school newspaper, yearbook, broadcast journalism, and online content produced by the students to rating services and contests in order for the school publications staff to receive feedback.
  7. Will forward any received correspondence and/or information to the appropriate editors.
  8. Will provide information to the staff about journalism scholarships and other financial aid, and make available information and contacts concerning journalism as a career.
  9. Will work with the faculty and administration to help them understand the freedoms accorded to the students and the professional goals of the school publications.
  10. The adviser will not act as a censor or determine the content of  the paper. The adviser will offer  advice  and instruction,  following  the  Code of  Ethics for Advisers established by the Journalism Education  Association as well as the Canons of  Professional  Journalism. School officials shall  not  fire or otherwise  discipline advisers for content in student media  that is determined and published by the student  staff
  1. The Conifer High School administration will provide the students of CHS with a qualified journalism instructor to serve as a professional role model, adequate classroom equipment, and space for a sound journalism program.
  2. CHS administration will offer equal opportunity to minority and/or marginalized students to participate in journalism programs.
  3. CHS administration is not required to view and approve publication content before publishing.

All content decisions will be made in occurrence to the following provisions, while keeping in mind that the overall purpose, role and goal of all CHS Media is to

  1. Inform, interpret, and entertain their viewers through accurate and factual reports, where information has been thoroughly gathered and information has been completely verified;
  2. Serve as an educational laboratory experience for those on staff;
  3. Be accurate, fair, and impartial in its coverage of issues that affect the school community;
  4. CHS Media will not avoid publishing a story solely on the basis of  possible dissent  or controversy;
  5. Cover the total school population as effectively and accurately as possible;
  6. The staff  of  CHS Media will strive to report all issues in a legal, objective, accurate and ethical  manner, according  to  the Canons  of  Professional Journalism developed by the Society  for Professional Journalists. The Canons of  Professional Journalism include a code of  ethics concerning accuracy, responsibility, integrity, conflict of  interest, impartiality, fair play, freedom of  the press, independence, sensationalism, personal  privacy, obstruction of  justice, credibility and  advertising.
  1. The media will not print unnecessary profanity.
  2. The editorial board will make the decision on whether content is considered profane or whether it is a cultural or non-vulgar slang term.
  3. 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.
  4. Staff interviewers have the right to ask a source when necessary to repeat a quote without the use of profane language.
  1. CHS students outside of the media staff will have the opportunity to submit writing to the media.
  2. Any writing submitted from an outside source for use will be accepted upon request of the editorial board or when open opportunities arise, and will be viewed by EICs and adviser for verification.
  3. Any material submitted from an outside source can be edited by the editorial board and must comply with this policy.
  4. Writing must be the original work of the writer and not previously published in any publication, unless otherwise specified by the adviser and EICs.
  1. All editorials printed will be bylined as: “on behalf of Editorial Staff”.
  2. Editorial ideas may be submitted to the editorial board by all members of the appropriate staff.
  3. All printed editorial subject matter will be determined by the editorial board.
  4. The media will not publish any material for which there is evidence that the author is using the paper for inappropriate personal gain.
  5. The media will endeavor to provide a chance for comment on all sides of a critical issue in the same edition.
  6. The editorial board, which consists of  the staff ’s student editors, 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.
  1. All coverage of controversial issues will occur upon a timely subject.
  2. All sides of the issue will be presented and reviewed so as to refrain from any bias, with exception of opinions.
  3. 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.
  4. The media will not publish material that is unnecessarily obscene, libelous, unwarranted, or invasive of privacy.
  5. 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:
  1. Why is it a concern?
  2. What is its 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. Is there a logical explanation to anyone who challenges the issue?
  8. Is it worth risking our credibility?
  9. What are the alternatives?
  1. All articles, graphics, photos, art, columns, pages, reviews, and other material creatively conceived, with exception to staff editorials and mug shots will be bylined with the producer’s name.
  2. All bylined writers will be held accountable for their work.
  3. When more than one person has contributed creatively to a piece of work, any person who has contributed to the work must be bylined as a producer.
  1. The media will specialize in and emphasize informing their readers of school news and unique students within the Conifer High School community.
  2. The media will cover community, state, national, and international news if it is directly relevant to the school community, and includes local angles.
  3. The media will strive to provide coverage to all school organizations and functions.
  4. When faced with the undesirable news such as student or staff or faculty crimes, the publications will endeavor to publish the facts correctly, explain the issue, and put a stop to any speculative stories that inevitably develop.
  5. Major district issues and news will be priority over school news (these major issues will be decided by the editorial board).
  1. Any current student, staff member, faculty member or building administrator that dies during the year will be recognized in the school media.
  2. The media will publish factual information (date of birth, date of death, survivors, organizations, hobbies, interests) in a 300-word obituary including one mug shot if possible in the yearbook and
  3. The school media will work to obtain permission from the deceased’s family before publishing any information regarding the cause of death, if permission is not granted, the editorial board reserves the final say in publication of cause of death. Suicide will not be listed as a cause of death.
  4. The school media will treat all deaths in a respectful way.
  5. An issue, or portion of an issue, should not be dedicated to or in memory of the deceased.
  6. Any current student, staff member, faculty member, or building administrator that dies during the year will be recognized in the school yearbook.
  7. The school yearbook will publish factual information (date of birth, date of death, survivors, organizations, hobbies and interests) and one 1” x 2” mug shot if possible in a 1/8 page space.
  1. All cutlines will record who is pictured and other necessary information about the photo.
  2. All photographs must be captioned and bylined, with the exception of mugs and cutouts.
  3. Bylines are required on all online photos and galleries.
  4. Artwork represents the interpretations of the artist, not necessarily of the staff or CHS.
  5. The publications will not publish any photos, illustrations etc. that ridicule, demean, or misleadingly represent any individual or group.
  6. Electronic manipulations changing the essential truth of  the photo or illustration will be clearly labeled if  used.
  1. Concerns about errors in the school media may be submitted using the newsroom email,  [email protected] OR by calling the newsroom at 303/982.5255
  2. The editorial board retains the right to determine whether, in fact, an error has been made.
  3. Known and/or found errors that are brought to the attention of the school media will be addressed regardless if realized by author, audience, or staff member.
  4. 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.
  5. Major corrections are determined by the editors and adviser.
  6. 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.


  1. The publications will not accept advertising for products that are illegal for minors to purchase and/or use.
  2. The publications will not run advertising without a proper signature on the advertising contract which explains terms of payment, content, size, and publishing dates.
  3. All ads need to be approved by the editorial board, any ad not deemed appropriate by the board will not run.
  4. The publications will cease to publish advertising of any advertiser that does not meet payment obligations specified in school contact.
  5. All advertisers will receive a complimentary subscription of the CHSToday magazine in which their ad has run.
  6. Advertising that appears in the media is not necessarily endorsed by the media or its staff members, editorial board or adviser.


  1. Current copies of the school magazine will be available after publication in the library, main office, guidance office and in room 201, as well as in local businesses. Magazines will be available free of charge at a first-come, first-served basis.
  2. Advertising revenues and fundraising are to be used to pay for the school media printing costs, supplies and other media expenses.
  3. All budget surpluses are to be used for future production of the school media, including supplies for the media 
  4. Exchange publications are received and displayed in the journalism classroom.


  1. Letters to the editor will be printed in the opinion section of the website.
  2. Guidelines to write letters to the editor will be printed in every issue of the magazine and available online at
  3. Letters to the editor may be submitted to Ms.Thompson’s mailbox, room A201, or emailed at this address: [email protected].
  4. Letters to the editor should not exceed 500 words, must be signed and must include the writer’s address and phone number for verification.
  5. Letters to the editor will be verified by a member of the editorial board to determine the authenticity of the writer.
  6. No material will be printed where content is obscene, invasive of others’ privacy, encouraging physical disruption of school activities, and/or implies libel.
  7. The CHS Media editorial board reserves the right to withhold a letter or column or other submission  and/OR return it for revision if  it  contains unprotected speech or grammatical errors that could hamper its meaning. Deadlines for letters and columns will  be determined by each  year’s student  staff, allowing sufficient time for verification of  authorship  prior to publication.
  8. All letters to the editor become the property of the school newspaper upon receipt and will not be returned to the author.
  9. Online comments will require a name and email address submitted that are verifiable.
  10. Online comments that are found in violation of the editorial policy will be removed as quickly as possible.
  11. Personal attacks are not allowed.


  1. The reviewer must have experience in the area in which they are reviewing.
  2. All reviews will be bylined and all reviews will be expressed opinions of authors, the editorial board and newspaper staff does not express opinions on the subject matter.
  3. All reviews will be to evaluate and inform, not to promote.
  4. 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.
  5. Review ideas may be submitted to the editorial board by all members of the CHS media.
  6. All reviews must first be reviewed by a section editor prior to publishing.
  7. All reviews need to be edited and printed in a current and timely manner.


  1. Social media will be used to promote CHS media, to promote published content and to engage the CHS community.
  2. The editorial board reserves the right to remove comments that violate any provisions hitherto outlined by this policy.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Information gained through social media channels should be verified through multiple channels before passing it along to others.
  6. Audience engagement through social media should be done in a professional manner.
  7. Staff members using applications to post updates to social media accounts should have separate applications for their personal account and for the school media accounts. This will limit the chance of a post being sent from the wrong account.
  8. 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.


  1. The goal of media marketing is to promote and expand the media viewing audience.
  2. Contests are run by members of the Student Media staff and regulated by the EICs.
  3. Every contest must have its own set of rules which will be posted in a place visible to the student body and contest participants.
  4. All contest rules are to be tailored and agreed upon by the editorial board before the start of the contest.
  5. Members of media staff will not be allowed to enter or win contests put on by the publicity team.
  6. The Director of Marketing will work with the web team to promote the publication through outside sources such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


  1. Sources will be able to have quotes read back at the time of interview or at reporter’s initiative.
  2. Sources will not be able to arbitrarily demand to read the reporter’s completed story and then perform editing tasks on that story.
  3. The media reporters will endeavor to include the name and 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, or emotional anguish for the source.
  4. The media reporters will not, within all boundaries of law, reveal a source who asks to remain nameless.
  5. All media interviewers will respect the interviewees rights to have information remain “off the record” if the fact is known before giving the information to the interviewer.
  6. The media will not be reviewed by anyone outside of the editorial board aside from the adviser prior to its release to the public, the adviser is allowed to review the publication, but not required to, for the sole purpose of acting as legal consultant and educator in terms of unprotected speech; the adviser reading content is not considered prior review unless he/she makes changes or directs changes.


  1. All students and staff of Conifer High School are eligible for publication in the CHS student media.


  1. Editor in chief(s) and other editor level positions are chosen by faculty adviser, with input from the previous year’s editorial board.
  2. New and returning staff are judged by application, previous work, potential and perquisite class work.
  3. Applicants are not turned down because of age, race, sex, religion, mental or physical handicap that do not impair editorial responsibilities.
  4. The staff and editors are selected at the end of the previous academic year. The adviser reserves the right to make changes to the list as he/she deems necessary after the registration deadline.
  1. All individuals involved with CHS media are considered a team, each member is expected to complete all assigned stories, pages, photos, etc. on or before the assigned deadline. Staff members, including editors, may be dismissed from their positions and/or the publications staff itself if any of following violations occur:
    1. continuously missed deadlines (dismissal procedures will take place by choice of adviser and EICs)
    2. Plagiarism
    3. Quote falsification
    4. Vandalism or theft of publication equipment
    5. Continuous negative or pessimistic attitude toward staff member or adviser
    6. Submitting an advanced page design, story, photo or other publishable item to anyone outside the media staff without approval by the editorial board
    7. Two suspensions in one academic year
    8. Failing to fulfill job as outlined in job description
  1. Major infractions will result in immediate dismissal from staff duties and dismissal from class and staff (major infractions include but are not limited to following: plagiarism, vandalism, theft).
  2. Minor infractions will be given a written warning for the first one. The second one is an immediate dismissal from staff duties and dismissal from class and staff at the end of semester.
  3. Warnings will be written and signed by the adviser and editor-in-chiefs, as well as staff members in question.
  4. An editor will be stripped of his her title if suspended.
  5. First misdemeanor or arrest will result in the loss of editor’s title, and second will result in dismissal from staff.
  6. Each member of the editorial board and adviser will attend a meeting with potentially dismissed students to discuss the issue, and the adviser will make the final decision.
  7. The academic nature of the school newspaper class allows removal of editors or staff members when school and or established media policy is violated.
  8. The above list infractions could all result in dismissal however, staff dismissals are not limited to the listed infractions.
  9. A dismissed staff member 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).
  10. Dismissal procedures are reviewed and approved by the editorial board
  11. The dismissed staff member may appeal their dismissal in writing to the editorial board within three school days following dismissal
  12. All dismissal appeals will be directed to the building principal and the editorial board


  1. Questions or complaints concerning material published in the media should be made in writing to the editor in chief(s) who will present the concern at the next scheduled editorial board meeting.
  2. Complaints and suggestions may be emailed to [email protected] or dropped off in room 210.
  3. Resolutions will be made within limits of deadlines.


  1. The CHS media should be a member of state, national, and/or international organizations.
  2. The CHS media will work to be in contact with professional media such as Colorado Community Media, as well as other individuals and companies in the communications field ranging from public relations and advertising to promotions and copy writing
  1. Student representation will be present for any bid meetings.
  2. Administration has the option of attending any bid meetings.
  3. Adviser will be present for any bid meetings.
  4. The appropriate media staff and adviser are responsible for choosing the publisher.
  5. At least three written bids need to be submitted (presentations are optional).
  6. While cost is important, it is not the sole deciding factor in selecting a publisher.
  7. Editor-In-Chief(s) must be present to all bid meetings.
  8. When possible, the staff will work to secure bids for three years.

Policy template courtesy of the Journalism Education Association