Hilltop Views

Media & Ethics Policy

Hilltop Views Media Policy

Hilltop Views is the student newspaper and website published by student journalists in the School of Humanities and serving the community of St. Edward’s University. The opinions expressed in the print and online editions are not necessarily those of the University, or of the student body as a whole. St. Edward’s values Hilltop Views as a way of fostering discussion and intellectual inquiry across the campus community. Hilltop Views can make faculty, staff and administration aware of student concerns and help students better understand the roles all members of the community play in their educational experience. The University administration does not censor Hilltop Views or conduct prior review of print or digital content. The role of the faculty adviser for Hilltop Views is to guide students as they learn professional practices. The faculty adviser does not censor content or conduct prior review. Editors, reporters and managers of Hilltop Views may not be arbitrarily suspended or removed because of student, faculty or administrative disapproval of editorial content or policy. Student journalists at Hilltop Views are required to comply with the publication’s Ethics & Guidelines policies, posted on the publication’s website. Failure to do so may result in suspension or dismissal from the staff.

Hilltop Views Ethics Policy

Hilltop Views serves as the voice of St. Edward’s University’s students and as a forum for discussion for the entire university. The newspaper holds independence, fairness, accuracy, honesty and transparency as core values. The paper’s first obligation is to report unbiased information on topics of interest to the university community. Its second obligation is to provide a tool for student journalists to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to become ethical professionals. Thus, the student reporters and staff should follow the ethical guidelines set forth in this policy to ensure that the newspaper maintains its values and obligations.

Independence

Certain conflicts of interest may violate the reporter or editor’s ability to be fair. While students should be encouraged to explore a range of interests, it is critical that campus journalists balance their obligations to outside organizations against their obligation to be fair and impartial. To that end, reporters and editors for Hilltop Views should not cover any event or issue concerning a student organization to which they belong. Reporters and editors should not cover an event or issue relating to their employment outside of Hilltop Views or relating to an internship. For example, an editor should not assign a story about the library closing for renovations to a student who is a student worker at the library. Regarding political involvement, reporters holding office or serving in off-campus organizations should avoid covering stories relating to their positions. Members of the Student Government Association should not cover issues relating to SGA, including the association’s legislation, policies, members or events. Lastly, reporters should not cover stories in which close friends or family members are involved. For example, if a reporter’s best friend wins an award for a short story, the reporter should not be covering the story. However, the reporter can pitch coverage of the event to the appropriate editor. Reporters should inform editors of any conflicts of interest before taking a story. Editors should inform the editors-in-chief or, if necessary, the Faculty Adviser before assigning stories which may pose conflict-of-interest questions.

Prior Review

Other practices can interfere with the paper’s ability to remain independent. For example, Hilltop Views does not grant sources prior review. This practice is prohibited for any story written for Hilltop Views. However, reporters may read direct quotes or particularly technical or complicated portions of their articles back to sources solely to check for accuracy. No person at St. Edward’s University, including the faculty adviser, exercises prior review over Hilltop Views. All publication decisions are the student editors’ alone.

Gifts

Reporters and editors should not accept gifts from the people they cover. Reporters should pay for tickets to entertainment events, such as a films or sports games. Reporters reviewing movies or concerts may apply for press credentials, but they may not accept free passes. Hilltop Views critics are reimbursed for meals, tickets and entry fees at the restaurants and events they cover.

Plagiarism and Fabrication

Journalists plagiarize when they use verbatim material without crediting sources. Cutting and pasting material found online without attributing the source is plagiarism. Publishing false information, i.e., making up quotations or other facts, is fabrication. Plagiarism and fabrication are firing offenses.

Corrections

When we get it wrong, we correct our mistakes. The newspaper is obligated to publish a clear correction as soon as possible after the error has appeared. The reporter is responsible for notifying editors if a correction needs to be made.

Transparency

A Hilltop Views reporter should always identify herself as such when covering a story. Student journalists who write for Hilltop Views but are covering a story for a class should not identify themselves as working for Hilltop Views. To further maintain transparency, reporters should not steal documents or receive stolen documents even if they are relevant to a story. In addition, reporters should not record an interview without the interview subject first consenting. In some states, doing such is illegal, and reporters should be familiar with these laws. Lastly, Anonymous sources are usually not used in stories. Reporters should not grant confidentiality to a source without receiving permission from an editor. Furthermore, reporters should not use an anonymous source if the information the source is providing cannot be verified. The information from the anonymous source should be verified from a second source if possible.

Social Media

Reporters should not post opinions on issues that the Hilltop Views covers to ensure the paper maintains objectivity. The reporter should operate under the idea that everything he or she posts to social media sites is viewable to the general public even if his or her account is set to private.

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University
Media & Ethics Policy