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Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Transparency maintains credibility, strengthens reporting


In order to maintain credibility, student reporters and editors should strive to be transparent in all aspects of their reporting. This includes revealing within the text of a story how interviews were obtained (if anything other than an in-person interview is used), giving proper attribution to direct quotes, as well as using indirect quotes to give attribution to ideas and details that come from sources. 

Reporters should also be transparent in how secondary source information was obtained (i.e. through a public records request, etc.).


Why is transparency important in student reporting? How can students be transparent in their reporting?


Student reporters should strive for transparency within their writing and student editors should confirm where information came from as part of their routine fact-checking duties before publication.

Key points/action:

  • Teach students that during the reporting process they should take thorough notes so they know where information comes from
  • Teach students how to attribute information using both direct and indirect quotes
  • Require student editors to do a “transparency check” before publication. While editing stories, if they are not sure where a piece of information came from they should discuss with the reporter the need to be transparent


Transparency is important in student media because it establishes credibility and combats the illusion of “fake news.” If readers or viewers know where the information came from, they are less likely to question its accuracy or claim falsities in the publication.

Bottom line: Be clear where information comes from so no one can question the validity of that information (or if they do they can take those questions to the source and not the publication/reporter).


Related:Attribution & Objectivity



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User-generated content

Posted by on Jul 7, 2015 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Foundations_mainEthical guidelines
Journalists should treat user-generated content the same as any content they create in terms of accuracy, verification, credibility, reliability and usability.

Given its growing use by various forms of media, student journalists should develop guidelines on how, when and why it should be used.

Staff manual process
Student journalists should establish a plan to vet all information and images before publishing them. All journalists should be trained in the use of this plan.

Before your students publish information or images from anyone outside the staff:
• Independently verify and validate it
• Positively identify sources
• Verify sources what sources say with other trusted sources
• Check for copyright infringement
• Verify the location 

How is User-generated Content Used in TV News, Neiman Lab
Guardian Launches Platform for User-generated Content, The Guardian
How Journalists Verify User-generated Content, Information on Social Media, The Poynter Institute
Ethics Guide: User-generated content (UGC) and Comments, Gatehouse Media (
Tools for Verifying and Assessing the Validity of Social Media and User-generated Content, Journalist’s Resource
How Storyful is Shaking Up News Reporting With User-generated Content, The Content Strategist
Accuracy and Accountability Checklist for Social Media, Mandy Jenkins at Zombie Journalism

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‘Put up’ guidelines

Posted by on Jul 7, 2015 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Foundations_mainEthical guidelines
Having a set of standards to follow before posting online or print content might help avoid material that causes someone to send a takedown demand.

Whether students post mainly online or to a combination of print and online, student staffs should develop authentication procedures before publishing striving to avoid Takedown Demand hassles.

Staff manual process
Student journalists should establish a plan to vet all information and images before publishing them. All journalists should be trained in the use of this plan before using it.

• Independently confirm information to be used for accuracy, context, perspective, truth and coherence
• Determine whether sources used are credible and representative of diverse and knowledgeable viewpoints
• Clearly attribute all information as needed for clarity and authority
• Avoid anonymous sources except in situations where they are the best and perhaps only source and where identities need protection
• Determine whether sources used have conflicts of interest
• Ensure your information has gone through a vetting process with editors
• If using teens or young people as sources for sensitive topics, realize interviewing their parents could add more credibility and context while also ensuring the parents are not surprised by a story they did not expect.
• If using social media sources, be sure information is attributed, accurate, in context and used legally and ethically
• Train and background reporters in legal and ethical issues
• If using crowd generated content, clearly indicate the source and ensure its credibility
• Be skeptical of any information you cannot verify

5 Ways News Organizations Respond to ‘Unpublishing’ Requests, The Poynter Institute
Takedown Demands: Here is a Roadmap of Choices, Rationale, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
Respond to Takedown Demands, Student Press Law Center
Setting Criteria Before the Requests Come, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
10 Steps to a Put-Up Policy, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
Audio: Takedown Requests, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee, Press Rights Minute

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Noteworthy information 4

Posted by on Aug 15, 2010 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


For a lighter way to emphasize  a serious topic – attribution and news credibility – check out Warning Labels by Tom Scott.

Scott lists himself as a “geek comedian” but his warning labels speak eloquently to a serious issue: how to get journalism students – and even more importantly – their audiences to recognize sloppy and inadequate reporting.

With a little adaptation, creative thought and news literacy modification, his project could lead to some serious learning done in a fun way.

Now to figure out how to place labels on student websites, broadcast and social media reporting as well as on print.

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