Our Policies

Mission statement

The Collegian is the independent student newspaper of Willamette University. It strives to represent the diversity of perspectives on campus, publishing news and opinion on subjects of concern and interest to all members of the Willamette community. The Collegian is dedicated to educating its staffers on best journalistic practices while producing content of quality. It is dedicated to handling all matters accurately, transparently and impartially.

Policies and guidelines for staff members

Quotes attributed to "SPJ" refer to the Society of Professional Journalists's Code of Ethics, which can be read in full here.

Communication

  • Inform interviewees about what will be discussed in an interview. Do not share your specific questions in advance of the interview.

  • In-person and phone interviews are the standard. Email interviews are last-resort only, and must be labeled as such in the article.

  • Complaints to the Collegian or about the Collegian should be immediately acknowledged by email or text. The response can be as simple as, “Thanks for your input, you’ll get a full response shortly.” In some cases, it may be appropriate to hold off for a few hours before replying. Consult with the managing editor or editor-in-chief. If someone has sent you a request for a correction, alert your section editor, the managing editor and web manager to ensure the correction is run in a timely manner. If the complaint concerns an editorial, share it with the opinions editor, the managing editor and the editor-in-chief to determine if a follow-up editorial, or a letter to the editor penned by the person with the dispute, is warranted. If the complaint is a more broad criticism of the Collegian, share it with the exec team (composed of the editor-in-chief, managing editor, production manager and business manager) and be prepared to work collaboratively to decide how best to respond.

  • Exec can declare any and all information discussed in Collegian meetings to be confidential.   

  • If a question or problem arises that you are unable to address on your own, bring it to your editor or manager and then, if necessary, exec. In matters of policy or interpersonal conflict, direct questions to the managing editor or production manager, or the editor-in-chief.

Truth

  • Quotes, information and images should never be misrepresented or altered. Brackets in quotes should be used for clarification rather than replacement. Quote sparsely. Avoid heavily editing quotations heavily.

  • Accuracy is paramount. Write only what you can show to be true. Accuracy matters over timeliness.

  • Attribute all quotations and identify the sources of images and principal findings. Plagiarism is unacceptable and triggers an immediate review by exec.

Impartiality

  • Bias and conflicts of interest, real or perceived, must be stated to the relevant section editor during the frontloading process. Whether this bias or conflict of interest is disqualifying is decided by the relevant section editor and exec.

  • Writers should not write about clubs, organizations or movements to which they belong except, with an editor’s approval, when the article is to appear as an Opinion – and in which case the affiliation should be noted in the text of the opinion piece. Opinions is a section in which writers seek to persuade readers, through the presentation of evidence and analysis, to a particular point of view. Writers and photographers with a formed position on a subject, or a club or activity affiliation, should disclose and discuss this with their editor before undertaking any story or assignment.

  • Writers and photographers should list all involvements to their section editor. Any conflict of interest or bias should be declared in the article.

  • When writing a story, consider all perspectives on the topic. Actively consider your own biases and seek out opposing viewpoints.

  • Collegian staff should not be quoted in Collegian articles except on rare occasion and as specifically permitted by exec. If a member of the Collegian staff is quoted, they should be named as such and their position at the organization should be stated. If the story’s editor, writer or a member of exec wish to be quoted in the article, a conversation regarding the ethics of including that perspective should take place.

  • Refrain from using “I” statements and personal testimony when writing a journalistic piece.

Transparency

  • Anonymous sources undercut credibility and should be avoided. They may, however, be used under extraordinary circumstances, such as if the person fears for their job security or personal safety, and may only be done with the approval of the editor-in-chief. The relevant section editor must know the identity of an anonymous source and pledge, along with the writer, to keep the identity of the source undisclosed. In the event the identity of an anonymous source is leaked, exec will immediately take up the matter to set things right. Any article attributing information or a quote to an anonymous source must make it clear in the text of the story why the source’s identity is being withheld.

  • All Opinions articles will state “Opinion” in the headline. Opinions and commentary have no place in News, Lifestyles and Sports articles.

  • Credit all information, quotes and images, and carefully research copyright and fair use infringements before publication. 

  • Avoid publishing Willamette’s logos or iconography, such as the compass logo or other official University marketing logos.

Minimize harm

  • “Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort.” - SPJ. Discuss the consequences of the publication of potentially harmful information with the section editor and Exec. 

  • “Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.” - SPJ. Do not draw undue attention to anything that cannot be supported with evidence. 

  • Run corrections or clarifications of an article in the following issue. On the website, make the necessary correction in the body of text and clearly run a statement at the end of the article clarifying what changes were made.

  • The Collegian respects the full rights of free speech and self-expression in all its staff members and employees. If, however, a staff member or employee takes a public action or makes a public statement that could be viewed as undercutting the Collegian’s editorial impartiality or independence, the Collegian’s exec team will review the staffer’s or employee’s behavior and potentially take disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Independence

  • The Collegian is the independent student newspaper of Willamette University, free from control by the University, the Associated Students of Willamette University or any other organization. All decisions are made by the student staff alone. 

  • All articles should be written in an independent voice. Foster the perception of the Collegian as an independent voice, while keeping editorials timely and substantive. 

  • The Collegian has a University advisor and a journalistic consultant, both of whom advise the student staff but do not make editorial decisions for them. The journalistic consultant is available to be contacted for questions by any of the student staff of the Collegian, whether a writer, editor or member of exec.

Website

  • Altering stories after publication online is only to be undertaken by editors or the website editor and always with the consent of or collaboration with the writer.

  • The body text of all altered or updated online stories must be preceded by a line telling readers the story has been altered/updated and showing the date of republication.

  • If an online story triggers a correction, a note must be appended at the end of the online story saying the online story was updated to correct the error and that a correction was published, specifying what the change was, and when.

  • In the event a story is outright wrong in its claims or is damaging to an individual owing to insufficient evidence, the story may be removed from the website by the EIC or their designee after full consideration by exec. In the event of sustained disagreement between the EIC and exec about un-publishing such a story, it is the job of the EIC to make the final decision.

  • The writer and section editor must be informed as soon as a story is taken down from the website with an explanation as to why. If the story is deemed by the editors taking it down to be salvageable, the writer and section editor may be given the opportunity to make changes and a timeline for doing so before republication.

Whom do I report to?

  • Know where to direct your queries and seek guidance. To ensure that work is being properly delegated, seek out your direct supervisor. To the extent possible, avoid taking your concerns directly to exec or the EIC.

  • Writers report to the section editor they are working with in a given week. Section editors report to the managing editor.

  • Photographers and graphic designers report to the photo editor, who reports to the managing editor. 

  • Layout editors and the distributor report to the production manager.

  • Exec members, the digital media manager and the web manager report to the editor-in-chief.

  • Regardless of your position, the Collegian’s advisor Emily Morris and journalistic consultant Len Reed are available to provide support or advising. Emily is first call for anyone struggling with a personal matter affecting their performance at the Collegian; Len is available 24/7 on all matters journalistic.

  • White Facebook Icon