El Estoque

Policies

Legal protections

Staff members are protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution and by Section 48907 of the California Education Code. It is the editorial board and the adviser’s responsibility to ensure “prohibited expression” – libel, obscenity and inflammatory material – not be published.

Legal behavior

Neither reporters nor photographers will participate in any illegal act in pursuit of a story. Reporters are responsible for understanding the law pertaining to libel, invasion of privacy and copyright. Members of staff discovered abusing their privileges might be asked to leave.

Code of ethics 

Members of the El Estoque staff believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. The El Estoque staff shares a dedication to ethical behavior and adopts this code to declare its principles and standards of practice.

  1. Seek Truth and Report It: Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
  2. Minimize Harm: Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect. 
  3. Act Independently: Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know. 
  4. Be Accountable: Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

Editorial board

The Editorial Board consists of the Editors-in-Chief, Managing Editors and the adviser. This group may convene to resolve conflicts or ethical issues pertaining to journalistic content and vote on resolutions. 

Reporting and interviewing

Reporters are to conduct face-to-face interviews. Phone interviewing should only be used for fact-checking, follow-up questions or instances where necessary sources are unable to meet in person. Unless in extreme cases, interviewing via the Internet or writing out questions for interviewees to respond to in written form is unacceptable, and in said cases, it must clearly be stated that the interview was conducted in a written manner. Reporters are expected to have all interviews on audio record, or in cases where interviewees opt out of a recording, reporters are obligated to take detailed, accurate notes.

Sources

Student sources are the most important part of nearly every story, and reporters must make efforts to ensure the reader is able to clearly see student angles and viewpoints. Reporters must interview sources representing the major sides of news stories. A majority of stories must include an adult expert source. All stories, with the exception of editorials, columns and reviews, must include at least three sources. Furthermore, sources quoted in stories will, upon request, be presented a copy of their quotes for confirmation by the reporter assigned to the story. If a source demands that a quote placed on the record be retracted, the Editorial Board will discuss the possible ramifications of printing the article and act accordingly, but is not obliged to comply with the source’s request.  

Prior review

It is the policy of El Estoque that stories, photographs and pages are not to be reviewed by any non-staff member prior to publication. The reporter can, and should, check quotations and facts in his or her story, especially if the quotation is controversial and/or the interview was not tape-recorded. 

Diversity

Reporters will make genuine efforts to include sources and subjects for photographs who represent all parts of the Monta Vista High School population, including the opinions of minority beliefs on campus. Diversity includes, but is not limited to, ethnicity, age, gender and social group. Staff management will make a conscious effort to utilize the audits system to ensure diversity each cycle. Additionally, staff reporters must avoid repeating sources unless an overused source is integral to a specific story.

Withholding names
In most cases, all names will be used, even if a story is humiliating to the subject. Withholding a name will only occur in rare cases when a student’s safety is in danger, the law requires it or the Editorial Board deems it appropriate for the case at hand. The adviser will not be notified of the student’s identity; only the reporters working on the story will know the source’s name. 

Journalistic integrity

Reporters who plagiarize – fabricate quotations or statistics, knowingly use copyrighted material, intentionally misrepresent a subject – will be removed from staff. These offenses are unethical and the damage done is irreparable, both to our publication’s integrity and the community. Reporters who accept off-the-record information are expected not to print it. 

Comments policy 

El Estoque encourages readers to use their full name when posting comments; however, it will not maintain the validity of the posted names. Anonymous comments are only justifiable if they add to the discussion at hand even with the loss of identity. El Estoque gives the opportunity to comment in order to foster a healthy debating environment and reserve the right to reject comments that stray away from that objective. Specifically, El Estoque reserves the right to delete, move or edit comments that: use any language that is derogatory, abusive, libelous or discriminatory on the basis of race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual preference, age, region, disability; are repeated messages, meaningless messages or spam; threaten others, including the author of the article or other individuals that post comments on the site; publish or distribute any content that advertises or solicits goods or services; by the staff of El Estoque’s judgement are unacceptable.

Sports coverage

The staff should strive to provide equal coverage to all sports. Boys and girls sports should be covered equitably. Reporters are required to attend games and/or practice to research for their sports stories. Every effort should be made to see the subjects of sports stories in action.

Death of a person on campus

Any current student, staff member or building administrator who dies during the year will be covered in a tasteful and respectful manner. Standard coverage will include factual information (date of birth, date of death, survivors, organizations, hobbies and interests) in a 300-400 word obituary and include one mug shot. El Estoque staff will first obtain permission from the deceased’s family before publishing any information regarding the cause of death. No page, spread or issue will be dedicated to or in memory of the deceased.

Photography/Artwork/Fair use

All photographs and artwork will be attributed to the photographer or creator using a consistent format on the website, social media platforms and in the newsmagazine. Photos and artwork will also only be used with permission from the creator.

Photos and videos created for El Estoque are the property of El Estoque and may not be published on other platforms (including personal social media sites, blogs and websites) until they have been published by El Estoque and with appropriate credit.