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How to use this guide for
ethical use of staff manuals

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A strong and effective staff manual describes the procedures of the staff in accordance with best policies and specific ethical guidelines. Because a staff manual should be a collaborative creation between students and advisers, it also becomes a living document, changing as necessary to reflect the culture and practices of the staff.

sprclogoEach year staff members should have the opportunity – and obligation – to update items to ensure the product serves their needs and those of their audiences.

A good staff manual creates an atmosphere consistent with board- and media-level policies’ sound legal principles and uses ethical guidelines to shape procedure. Such a roadmap can help students justify content to administrators or introduce new staffers to common newsroom policies.

A good staff manual creates an atmosphere consistent with board- and media-level policies’ sound legal principles and uses ethical guidelines to shape procedure. Such a roadmap can help students justify content to administrators or introduce new staffers to common newsroom policies.

While a staff manual is primarily an internal document and not used as a guide to punishment, student media should adhere to staff manual procedures to show professionalism and consistency in approach. This, in turn, can improve the credibility of student media.

For this reason, student media should avoid mixing ethics guidelines with staff manual processes. While processes or procedures can include the verbs “will” and “must,” guidelines should be framed with “should” and “could.”

The elements of this staff manual guide present a buffet of choices for advisers and students looking to build a cohesive, personalized manual. Some may not apply to every school. Other entries will need to be personalized to fit specific student media missions or situations.

So, this guide provides not only the ethical tenets that should shape processes but also suggestions for students and advisers to consider when writing their own staff manual entries.

The elements of this staff manual guide present a buffet of choices for advisers and students looking to build a cohesive, personalized manual. Some may not apply to every school. Other entries will need to be personalized to fit specific student media missions or situations.

On a final note, students and advisers should know that this guide is not all-inclusive. Instead, we have focused on those entries in a staff manual that are specifically tied to ethical considerations.

A comprehensive staff manual will also include entries that explain important processes that have no significant ethical issues.

To help in your creation of ethical guidelines for staff manuals, we created this model.

Those additional entries might include:
• Advertising rates for that year
• Ad size specifications
• Ad size specifications
• Ad contracts
• Staff roster and contact information
• Grade-level rosters to check names/grades
• Club lists and rosters
• Sports rosters, including coach contact information
• Campus map
• Class room directory
•  AP style checklist
• Publication style checklist
• Photo shoot checklist
• Photo editing checklist
• Design/design consistency checklist
• Story/content sequence (how a story moves through the publication system)
• Sports and club schedules
• Bell schedule
• School calendar
• How-to sheets for common design/software procedures
• Faculty roster
• Job descriptions for each staff and adviser position
• Editorial board makeup and duties
• Worknight or workday dates and times
• Sample staff contract
• Equipment checkout procedures
• Parent booster group information
• Sample advertising rate sheet
• Sample advertising ad contract
• Board of education, schools officials names and contact information
• City public officials contact information
• City offices and contact information
• Civic leader names and contact information
• Schedule of board of education meetings and activities

What would you add to the list above? Leave a comment here.

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