StudLife strives to report the truth, as anything less would be to fail the Washington University community we exist to serve. To ensure that community members can engage with the essential service we provide, our work should be as clear and accessible as possible.
We have a duty to hold power to account. Reporters and editors should be careful to avoid accepting statements from those in positions of power as absolute fact (i.e. statements from University administrators, police reports, etc.) and remember that mainstream or prevailing viewpoints are not necessarily universal. In the interest of providing complete context and information to a story, we will always make the effort to allow subjects of our news coverage the opportunity to respond to critiques.
StudLife should aim to cover a wide variety of topics, including and especially those that affect marginalized and underrepresented groups. Reporters should critically seek out diverse perspectives and sources.
Legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish information, and reporters and editors should take into consideration the impact of the information they promote. Sources and subjects should be treated with fairness and compassion.
Key parts of the policy:
Implicit biases inherently inform the way reporters and editors view particular topics. Every editorial decision any journalist makes, from choosing which stories to highlight to determining which sources to include, reflects some level of partiality. At the same time, it is crucial that our readers be able to trust the fairness and accuracy of our reporting. To that end, StudLife holds all staffers to the highest standard of integrity and expects them to put aside their personal opinions to the best of their ability when reporting on a given issue.
StudLife staffers should exercise careful discretion when making journalistic decisions about someone with whom they have a personal relationship. For example, staffers may not interview or otherwise report on their significant others or family members in a news context. Staffers may not cover organizations or student groups of which they are currently members or have within the last full semester worked for or otherwise been a part of. Staffers may not report on movements with which they are actively involved. For example, a staffer could support a movement in general and still report on related campus activism, but they may not report on groups or activities in which they take part. Editors involved in those organizations should designate other staffers on the paper to make decisions regarding that material.
StudLife encourages students to try contributing to different sections of the paper. At the same time, we uphold the separation of our newsroom from our opinions section, Forum, because we think that separation builds credibility for our reporting. Staffers can contribute both to news- and opinion-based work, but they may not do so simultaneously for the same topic. For example, a person who writes an opinion piece advocating for changes to a University policy may not the next week then write a news story about that same policy. There must be at least one full semester of separation between when a person contributes to news and opinion work about the same topic. Editors for all sections should make this clear to staffers when assigning stories so as to avoid future confusion.
Since interviews are at the core of StudLife’s reporting and information-gathering process, it is important that we clearly explain our interview policies. StudLife values the trust between staffers and their sources as well as the trust of our readership—the Washington University community.
The most important information:
Before initiating an interview, StudLife staffers must clearly identify themselves as being affiliated with the newspaper and must explain the reason for the interview. Missouri is a one-party consent state, meaning that journalists can legally record any conversations in which they take part. Still, it is the duty of the reporter to ask the source if they may record an interview and/or use the audio at the start of each interview. Reporters are also responsible for asking for a source’s name and pronouns for publication.
When an interview is “on the record,” that means that information from the interview is attributable to the individual (the “source”) by name. (Example: “This event is great,” John Doe said.) The vast majority of interviews StudLife staffers conduct are “on the record.” StudLife considers all comments at public meetings and events to be on the record and reportable. We will use careful discretion when determining whether to publish private individuals’ sensitive information.
An interview that is “on background” is quotable, but not attributable to the source by name. (Example: “This event is okay,” a student at the event said.) A source may request this anonymity if printing their name has the potential to cause immediate or future harm, either emotional, physical or otherwise (loss of a job/position, academic retaliation, etc.). Anonymity is only granted in consultation with the respective section editor. Staffers should agree with sources on an amenable attribution before conducting the interview and should seek to conduct interviews on the record whenever possible, as that bolsters the credibility of attributed information.
Articles that use anonymous sources should include a general explanation for why anonymity was granted, either within the body of the article or as an attached editor’s note. Anonymity will be reserved for cases in which the source has information that significantly contributes to the reporting and cannot reasonably be obtained elsewhere. For any article, the identity of the anonymous source must be known to the reporter and at least one section editor.
Finally, “off the record” refers to information given that cannot be published. This is information given in confidence and is not attributable to a source or publishable without further confirmation. If a source wishes to speak on background or off the record, they must say so before their statement. If a person requests to be on background or off the record after completing an interview, we will only grant that anonymity in rare cases, taking into account the news value of publishing the information, the source’s motivation for anonymity and other relevant information.
StudLife prioritizes the use of live interviews (in person, over the phone, etc.) whenever possible, as these interviews allow for maximum authenticity and give our reporters the opportunity to ask follow-up questions and push for further information. We do not provide questions in advance of live interviews, though we will give sources a description of the interview topic so that they are able to prepare. Sometimes, sources are not available for or deny live interviews, so StudLife will send emailed questions or accept a written statement. In those instances, we will clarify the source of information by writing “Martin wrote in an email to Student Life” as opposed to simply “Martin said.”
In rare cases at the paper’s discretion, StudLife will allow sources to review their quotes for the purposes of fact-checking information. We do not share full stories with sources prior to publication.
Photography is an important element of StudLife’s duty to document the Washington University community, and we believe it can contribute a great deal to the quality of our work. We think that taking pictures of public events is a crucial part of our service to the community, so we often send staff photographers to events alongside reporters and editors. Still, as with our written content, we recognize that legal justification to publish photographs differs from ethical justification to do so. We will use careful discretion when determining which photos to publish from public events, taking into account our duty as journalists to minimize harm.
How we approach requests to take down information from our website.
What you need to know:
The unnecessary removal of information from our online archive of articles impedes our ability to fairly and accurately document Washington University by limiting how our work serves as a trusted record of this community’s happenings. At the same time, journalism in general and this newspaper specifically have not always lived up to the standards we set for ourselves and in some cases have created harm for individuals or communities.
The StudLife managing team—the editor-in-chief and managing editors—will consider requests to remove information from our website in extreme situations. StudLife will not remove full articles from our archives but will work to remove sensitive information from search engines. To request information to be removed from the website, fill out this Google form. The managing team reviews requests once per month at the beginning of each month.
This policy resembles that of other college newspapers such as The Daily Orange, The Minnesota Daily and The Daily Bruin, as well as national papers such as the Boston Globe. If you have any questions, you can reach the StudLife editor-in-chief by emailing [email protected]
The key takeaway: StudLife is committed to fair and factual reporting. If there is a factual inaccuracy published, we will correct that error online and add a note labeled “Correction” to the article. If you notice an error, please email [email protected]
You can expect to see occasional communication from the StudLife editorial team before or after our stories. We will include timestamps with any communication that does not accompany the initial publication of a given piece.
Comments on StudLife.com are moderated to create a space where all readers feel comfortable adding to the discussion and to ensure that discussion remains on topic. We encourage readers to use their full name or initials when submitting comments as that generally leads to more respectful and substantive debate.
In moderating comments, we follow the same standards of taste that apply to our print edition. Although we will not delete comments based on spelling or grammar, we do not permit personal attacks, and obscenity and profanity may be altered to conform to AP Style. We will not permit commercial promotions, incoherence and SHOUTING. Comments are not moderated because they express (or fail to express) a specific political ideology or opinion.
Comments are never edited (except to conform to AP Style); they are either approved as submitted or deleted. Comment moderation is necessarily subjective, but we strive to maintain the same standards across the board.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but comment boards are not intended to become bogged down by discussion about StudLife. We appreciate when readers and people quoted in articles point out errors in fact or emphasis and we will investigate these assertions; these points, however, should be submitted by emailing [email protected] to ensure that they are handled promptly.
For each visitor to our Web page, our Web server automatically recognizes only the consumer’s domain name, but not the e-mail address (where possible).
We collect only the domain name, but not the e-mail address of visitors to our Web page, the e-mail addresses of those who post messages to our comment boards, the e-mail addresses of those who communicate with us via e-mail, aggregate information on what pages consumers access or visit, information volunteered by the consumer, such as survey information and/or site registrations.
The information we collect is used for internal review and is then discarded, used to improve the content of our Web page, used to customize the content and/or layout of our page for each individual visitor, and used to notify consumers about updates to our Web site.
If you do not want to receive e-mail from us in the future, please let us know by sending us e-mail at the above address, calling us at the above telephone number, writing to us at the above address.
If you supply us with your postal address on-line you will only receive the information for which you provided us your address.
Persons who supply us with their telephone numbers on-line will only receive telephone contact from us with information regarding orders they have placed on-line.
With respect to Ad Servers: To try and bring you offers that are of interest to you, we have relationships with other companies that we allow to place ads on our Web pages. As a result of your visit to our site, ad server companies may collect information such as your domain type, your IP address and clickstream information. For further information, consult the privacy policies of: Google AdSense, Broadstreet, flytedesk.
From time to time, we may use customer information for new, unanticipated uses not previously disclosed in our privacy notice. If our information practices change at some time in the future we will post the policy changes to our Web site to notify you of these changes and we will use for these new purposes only data collected from the time of the policy change forward. If you are concerned about how your information is used, you should check back at our Web site periodically.
Under the CCPA, among other rights, California consumers have the right to:
Request that a business that collects a consumer's personal data disclose the categories and specific pieces of personal data that a business has collected about consumers.
Request that a business delete any personal data about the consumer that a business has collected.
Request that a business that sells a consumer's personal data, not sell the consumer's personal data.
If you make a request, we have one month to respond to you. If you would like to exercise any of these rights, please contact us.
Users are entitled to the following:
You have the right to request copies of your personal data.
You have the right to request that we correct any information you believe is inaccurate. You also have the right to request that we complete the information you believe is incomplete.
You have the right to request that we erase your personal data, under certain conditions.
You have the right to request that we restrict the processing of your personal data, under certain conditions.
You have the right to object to our processing of your personal data, under certain conditions.
You have the right to request that we transfer the data that we have collected to another organization, or directly to you, under certain conditions.
If you make a request, we have one month to respond to you. If you would like to exercise any of these rights, please contact us.
Student Life does not knowingly collect any Personal Identifiable Information from children under the age of 13. If you think that your child provided this kind of information on our website, contact us immediately and we will do our best efforts to promptly remove such information from our records.
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