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Policy model 1

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Policy 1: [NAME OF SCHOOL] student media are designated public forums in which students make all decisions of content without prior review by school officials.

Comment: This contains only the basic statement of journalistic responsibility. It is usable at the board level to outline the basic principles of external oversight, leaving the process to other internal packages, like ethics guidelines and staff manuals. This removes from consideration the possibility of board attempts to change process-oriented direction.

A short statement like this clearly establishes the principles and responsibilities that guide all other statements. With no prior review added to it, it has the three crucial points in a policy: (1) designated public forum status in which (2) students make all final decisions regarding content and (3) do so without prior review. Decisions on matters such as letters, bylines, staff disciplinary actions, coverage of death and more are best detailed in ethical guidelines and staff manuals.

Designated forum: This language (designated forum in policy or practice) should be included in policies at board or publication level because all public forums are designated either by action or inaction (unless the board clearly says otherwise). Being silent as students operate as a forum is really permitting a designated forum.

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