*Note: Updated May 10, 2012
I. Introduction to The Spectator
The Spectator has changed dramatically since the first issue was published in 1923. In the decades since the premiere issue, the newspaper’s staff has continually worked to produce a high-quality publication. The many awards The Spectator has won through the years attest to those students’ success. However, as the newspaper’s quality has increased, so has the complexity of its operation.
The days when an adequate newspaper could be produced by a few staff members with limited advertising support are long gone. Today, approximately 30 people are involved in the production of The Spectator throughout a semester. The newspaper operates with an annual budget of about $70,000.
The complexities of The Spectator’s operation have necessitated the formulation of this statement to serve as guidelines for the newspaper’s staff. It is meant to clearly define procedures for business and advertising operations. (A separate business operations manual, written in 1991 and updated in 2002, supplements this publication.)
The guidelines in this statement are not meant to hinder the actions of future editors and managers. Instead, they are meant to clarify otherwise vague procedures and traditions. Such guidelines should provide the foundation for what will continue to be a strong, legitimate university activity.
This statement does not contain rules that can never be changed. The editorial board can change the procedures in this manual with a majority vote. Any addition to the manual must also go through this process.
Likewise, the Business Affairs Committee, with a majority vote, can change the business and/or advertising procedures when its members believe such action is appropriate and necessary.
The primary mission of The Spectator is to provide a medium of communication for the UW-Eau Claire campus community. It also provides UW-Eau Claire students an opportunity to work on a professional semiweekly publication.
The Spectator began publication on Oct. 24, 1923, as a result of the efforts of a few students who thought “the growing normal school needed a college newspaper,” according to “The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire/A History 1916-1976.” J. Hartt Walsh, class of 1925, was advertising manager for the Periscope in fall 1923 when he began efforts to start a newspaper. As he recalled, “The big job … was to convince President (Harvey) Schofield of the need for a college newspaper and of its immediate (not ultimate) success as a business venture.” Walsh presented Schofield with a list of commitments from advertisers, information on printing costs, etc. Walsh’s persistence and hard work paid off eventually, and Schofield agreed to establish a newspaper if 300 of the school’s 488 students subscribed to it.
The Spectator was born.
Where the name came from is not precisely known. Walsh recalled that it probably originated with Charles Imislund and/or A.L Murray. Imislund was the newspaper’s first editor and Murray, English department chair, was The Spectator’s first faculty adviser.
Although editors and advertising staff receive financial compensation, the real benefit of working on the staff is gaining the practical experience of working for a newspaper. Students apply news judgment, layout, writing, editing and theory learned in the classroom to the practical job of putting out a newspaper.
Students sell advertising space and design most of the advertisements that appear in the paper. While the majority of staff members are journalism majors, students from other academic departments are encouraged to participate, and many do. The majority of the newspaper’s funding comes from advertising revenue. A small percentage of its budget comes from student segregated fees, and the university provides its office space rent-free.
II. The Spectator’s Command Structure
A. The Board of Regents
The primary responsibility for governance of the UW System is vested in the Board of Regents. Wisconsin statutes state that the board shall enact policies and rules for governing the System.
Under their power of delegation, the regents have given the chancellors of the System institutions — including UW-Eau Claire — authority over activities such as student newspapers. The board, however, does require that The Spectator print the following statement in each issue of the newspaper:
The Spectator is a university publication, published under the authority granted to the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. Publication costs are paid by the State of Wisconsin under contracts awarded by State Printing Section, State Department of Administration, State of Wisconsin, as provided in the State Printing Operational Bulletin 9-24, September, 1970.
The Spectator is, thus, recognized as a UW-Eau Claire publication in accordance with UW System procedures. In accordance with the UW-Eau Claire chancellor’s informal memo of June 10, 1982, The Spectator:
- is provided office space on the campus without rental charges.
- receives all UW-Eau Claire press releases.
- is a conduit of UW-Eau Claire official notices.
- receives the cooperation of university officials in an effort to provide timely and accurate information in the interest of the university community.
- may represent itself to advertisers and other external publics as an official UW-Eau Claire publication.
- receives professional advice and instruction from the university where appropriate or necessary.
- must abide by UW System and UW-Eau Claire policies concerning its financial operation.
The Spectator usually has published about 15 issues each semester or 30 issues during the academic year. Publication days are Thursday. When holidays or school recess conflict, the newspaper might not be published.
The UW Board of Regents is, in the final sense, the newspaper’s publisher because The Spectator is a university publication. The board has delegated responsibility and control of The Spectator to the UW-Eau Claire chancellor in his/her role as chief executive officer of the university. The UW-Eau Claire chancellor, in turn, has delegated administrative and oversight responsibility to the vice chancellor as the university’s only other all-campus administrative official.
B. Spectator Advisory Board
A campus media advisory board was established by Student Senate in spring 2001. This board does not control decisions made by Spectator members. In the event of a conflict between the recommendation of the media board and the editor in chief of The Spectator, the decision of the editor in chief will be final.
This board does not have the power to approve whom The Spectator staff chooses as editor in chief. This was a power held by a previous media advisory board that is no longer allowed.
The current board is to be used as a source of advice and to facilitate coordination among campus media. It has no authority to order any procedures regarding The Spectator.
The vice chancellor, upon the recommendation of the Department of Communication and Journalism chair and the dean of the College of Arts and Science, appoints a faculty member of the Department of Communication and Journalism to serve as adviser to The Spectator for an indefinite term.
The responsibilities of The Spectator adviser are:
- To keep the vice chancellor, dean of Arts and Sciences and Communication and Journalism department chair informed about Spectator matters that are of concern to them.
- To serve as adviser and critic concerning the news and editorial operation of The Spectator.
- To advise in the business operation of the newspaper so it is carried out in accordance with Wisconsin law, UW System and UW-Eau Claire regulations policy, and the standards of good business practice.
- To oversee Spectator expenditures.
- To help ensure that UW-Eau Claire is served by a student-operated and controlled weekly newspaper that adheres to commonly accepted standards of good journalism.
The adviser should allow and encourage students to assume all responsibility for Spectator operation. The Spectator takes pride in the fact that it is 100 percent student-produced. One exception to complete student control, in accordance with university policy, is approval of Spectator expenditures. The adviser shares newspaper business management practices with the other members of the Business Affairs Committee (explained below).
If for some reason The Spectator’s editors should desire a new adviser, the matter would first be carefully considered by the editorial board. If a majority of board members desires a new adviser, the editor would indicate the board’s wishes through a letter to the Department of Communication and Journalism chair and College of Arts and Sciences dean, who would make a recommendation to the vice chancellor if they deem it is warranted.
D. Business Affairs Coordinator
The Spectator’s business manager serves as its business affairs coordinator.
Among the duties of this position are supervision of the electronic bookkeeping equipment, monitoring advertising accounts and the overall budget, keeping the adviser apprised of Spectator business matters, and signing various forms, documents, letters, purchase orders, etc. in the adviser’s absence and ONLY with the adviser’s authorization, which is often delegated to the head program assistant of the Department of Communication and Journalism.
E. Business Affairs Committee
Voting membership: editor in chief, managing editor, business manager, advertising manager, adviser, assistant business manager, assistant advertising manager
Ex officio membership: Department of Communication and Journalism chair, head program assistant of the CJ department
Responsibilities: The Business Affairs Committee, chaired by the editor in chief, is responsible for:
- The development of The Spectator’s budget each fall and for the representation of The Spectator at the Student Senate Finance Commission budget hearing and subsequent segregated fee budget deliberations by student government and monitoring spending and money availability throughout the year.
- Establishing the newspaper’s production schedule each spring and setting advertising rates.
- Determining a stipend policy for the advertising staff.
- Setting an amount of money available for the editorial staff stipends.
- Selecting the advertising and business managers at the end of each semester following the procedures outlined below.
On March 1, 1990, the committee unanimously passed this motion: Before money is allocated and authorized for travel, the person traveling must submit a proposal to the business affairs committee about how he or she will relate the information gained to the rest of The Spectator staff.
The committee should meet on a monthly basis during each semester. It is the chair’s responsibility to schedule meetings and inform committee members of them. Any committee member can request a meeting at any time. Attendance at these meetings and assistance with the committee’s duties are also parts of the members’ responsibilities.
III. Spectator Employee Policies
A. Employment Eligibility Verification
No student may work as a paid employee of the Spectator until he/she has completed and signed a lump sum payment form from the Spectator business manager.
B. Equipment Use (to be posted by equipment and distributed to all employees)
Spectator computers, as well as other Spectator equipment, are to be used by no one other than Spectator staff members. The computers should not be operated by staff members not trained in their use. The computer in the business office should never be used by anyone other than the business manager, assistant manager or adviser. Equipment is to be used for business purposes.
Long-distance calls made on Spectator telephones will be documented and checked by the assistant business manager. The copy machine is to be used only for Spectator-related business.
Anyone who misuses equipment could be forced to pay for the services used. Other punishments include ending Spectator employment or placing a hold on registration.
IV. Spectator Student Staff
The responsibility for the newspaper’s operation lies with students enrolled at UW-Eau Claire. All students who work for the paper should remember at all times that The Spectator exists for two reasons: (1) to serve the university community with news and advertisements; (2) to provide students with professional experience and a meaningful extracurricular activity.
A. The Spectator Editorial Board
Membership: editor in chief (chair), managing editor (vice chair), editorial editor, news editor (2), currents editor, sports editor, online editor, photo editor, multimedia editor
Responsibilities: The board decides the positions that the newspaper will take editorially. Editorial decisions, as well as other decisions, have traditionally been reached through a vote, following discussion. Ties are broken by the editorial editor, who does not vote in regular decisions. The board must meet at least once a week.
B. Selection of Editors and Editor in Chief
All editorial appointments are for one semester, but the same person can reapply and be reappointed to the same position.
An advertisement is published in three consecutive issues of the newspaper to announce an open editor in chief position. The first ads appear in advance of an application deadline set by the current editor. Those applications for editor in chief are reviewed by the editorial staff members, who read the applications for editor in chief and interview candidates for that position. Only the candidate being interviewed may be present; other candidates may not take part in the interview.
Following deliberations, the staff votes on the applicants. If there are more than two applicants and no one receives a majority of votes, a runoff election is held between the two applicants with the most votes. A quorum of the staff must be present, and voting is done by secret ballot.
Candidates may not vote, nor may they be present when voting occurs. The editor in chief also is not allowed to vote and should take the position of a neutral moderator during deliberations. Everything said in an editor in chief selection meeting is to be kept confidential.
The newly appointed editor in chief reviews the applications for all other editorial positions and conducts candidate interviews as he/she desires. After completing the selection process, the future editor informs all new staff members.
If an editor has to leave office during the semester, the editor in chief can fill the vacancy after notifying staff members of the vacancy and the fact that applications are being accepted for the position. After the deadline and appropriate selection procedures, the editor makes the appointment. The editor need not make an appointment from the original applicants. An editor may solicit additional applications if he/she believes such an action is necessary.
C. Removal of Editors and Editor in Chief
If an editor or other staff member is not competently performing his/her duties, the following procedure should be followed: The editor in chief would consult privately with the managing editor, other staff members and the adviser. The editor in chief would then make the decision to remove or retain the editor. If an editor is removed, the editor in chief would follow the previously outlined replacement procedures.
When an editor in chief is not competently performing his or her duties, that person may be removed from the position in the following manner: Two-thirds of the staff must send a letter to the adviser of The Spectator. The adviser will then forward the letter to the chair of the Communication and Journalism Department. A meeting will be scheduled with the entire staff, the adviser and the department chair. At this meeting, grievances with the editor will be discussed. A vote of the staff will take place at the end to determine if the editor should stay in that role. A majority vote is required to remove the editor. These procedures, like those for replacing an adviser, are outlined so that proper procedures are firmly established. Such steps, however, should be taken as a last resort. Staff members are encouraged to forgo these procedures in favor of thoughtful discussion.
Whenever the editor in chief is unable to perform his or her duties because of other commitments or illness, the managing editor assumes the editor’s powers and responsibilities. In anticipation of a situation in which both the editor in chief and managing editor are not able to perform their duties, the editor in chief should select another member of the editorial board to carry out the responsibilities of editor. There is no position that is specifically third in command. The editor in chief will select such a person based on staff and editorial board experience and capabilities.
V. Advertising Policy
The Spectator reserves the right to classify, revise, reject or cancel, in whole or in part, any ad at any time. All advertising is subject to the approval of the advertising manager and the editor in chief. The Spectator will reject false, misleading, or clearly threatening and obscene speech in ads.
VI. Alcohol Policy
Due to an increased number of accidental college student deaths related to the abuse of alcohol, The Spectator has made the decision to no longer allow the following types of ads to be run in the paper:
- No “Free Drink” Specials
- No “Birthday” Specials
- If individual drink prices are advertised they must be reasonable, subject to the approval of the Advertising Manager
- No Special or Promotion that would encourage binge drinking (i.e. “Bladder Busters,” “Free Keg Beer,” oversized containers, etc.)
We understand that this policy is undesirable to some, but it is enforced to protect not only the newspaper, but also your business. If you have any questions regarding the new policy, please feel free to contact advertising manager at 715-836-4366.
VII. Code of Ethics
The Spectator combines a mixture of philosophies to determine its ethical practices. The principles it abides by come from the code of ethics of newspapers around the country and from the Associated Collegiate Press.
As far as The Spectator’s responsibility to its readers, it follows the stance taken by the Society of Professional Journalists:
A. Seek Truth and Report It
Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. Journalists should:
- Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
- Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
- Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
- Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
- Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
- Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.
- Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story
- Never plagiarize.
- Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
- Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
- Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
- Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
- Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
- Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
- Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
- Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.
B. Minimize Harm
Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect. Journalists should:
- Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
- Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
- Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
- Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
- Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
- Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes.
- Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.
C. Act Independently
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.
- Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
- Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
- Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
- Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
- Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
- Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
- Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.
D. Be Accountable
Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other. Journalists should:
- Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
- Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
- Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
- Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
- Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.
Work by staff members for the people or institutions they cover also should be avoided. Stories should not be written or edited primarily for the purpose of winning awards and prizes. Self-serving journalism contests and awards that reflect unfavorably on the newspaper or the profession should be avoided.
VII. Other Policies on Employee Conduct Relating to Ethical Concerns
A. Anonymous Sources
The Spectator will disclose and name the source of all information when at all possible. Attribution such as, “one student said,” is not acceptable. Before any information is accepted without full attribution, reporters must make every reasonable effort to get it on the record. If that is not possible, reporters should consider seeking the information elsewhere. If that in turn is not possible, reporters should request an on-the-record reason for concealing the source’s identity and should include the reason in the story.
In any case, some kind of identification is almost always possible — by department or by position, for example — and should be reported. Editors remain free to delete any information that reporters gather from anonymous sources.
Always identify yourself as representing The Spectator. Do not use false or misleading tactics to obtain information.
People submitting questions to an advice column are not considered sources of information, and therefore do not fall under the anonymous sources policy.
B. Interaction with the Campus Community
Respond promptly to all phone calls, letters, voice mails and e-mails. A reader’s contact with you might be his or her only contact with this newspaper, so courtesy is essential. Newspapers must combat the perception of being aloof, arrogant and divorced from the community. Make every possible effort to obtain information for a caller or letter writer without referring them to yet another desk or person. All requests for corrections should be directed to an editor for discussion.
Spectator staff members are encouraged to be involved in the campus community, to the extent that such activities do not create conflicts of interest. However, the newspaper and its staff should be free of obligations to news sources and newsmakers. Even the appearance of obligation or conflict of interest should be avoided.
Because college is a time to be involved in a variety of groups, the policy about group membership is not as strict as community newspapers. However, involvement in politics, demonstrations and social causes that would cause a conflict of interest, or the appearance of such conflict, should be avoided. Direct conflict of interest with a reporter’s beat or a story must be avoided.
C. Identities of Crime Victims and Suspects
Names of sexual assault victims are withheld unless they ask to be identified.
In certain instances, such as if a suspect remains at large, it is permissible to not report specific house addresses of crime victims. However, in most cases, this information will be published.
An arrested individual usually is not named until charges are filed or he is arraigned before a judge. Exceptions can include a very prominent person in a highly public offense or “smoking gun” incidents. Supervising editors must be consulted in these cases. But generally, do not name suspects who have not been formally charged with a crime.
When reporting on a person being charged with a crime, always include the following information: first and last name, age, year in school or position at university, complete address.
D. Legal Questions
The Spectator is a member of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, which means editors, reporters, and ad staff members can call a toll-free WNA phone number to ask an attorney for immediate help. The phone number is 1-800-362-2664.
Instances when this number would be useful are when a reporter is denied access to government meetings or records, if there is concern about libel or privacy issues, or if there are challenges to the Freedom of Information Act. Ad staff also can use this number when they are unsure of the legality of an ad.
E. Photography Policies
Visuals have a tremendous impact on our readers. Follow good taste and good sense. As in many areas of taste, these should be discussed on their individual merits with appropriate photo and section editors. Editorial photographs should never mislead the reader regarding their content, time or place of the information depicted. All environmental portraits or controlled situations should be executed in a manner that makes the context obvious to the reader.
Photo illustrations can be misleading, so they must be clearly labeled as photo illustrations. Illustrations are defined as any photo that has been altered beyond burning, dodging and color correction. Here’s an easy way to evaluate whether the illustration is a photo or photo illustration: If you couldn’t make the changes using a standard photography darkroom, the photo is an illustration.
Photos are information and shouldn’t be used as fillers. All people who can be identified in photos should be named in the cutline.
Other than photo illustrations, enhancement of photo images for reproduction purposes, which includes burning, dodging and color correction, can be done only in the photo department and may not fundamentally alter the content of the photo.
Graphic or obscene photos will not be run. This policy includes photos of dead bodies or other distasteful material not appropriate to a campus newspaper.
F. Free Tickets, Passes, Discounts, Gifts
Free tickets or passes may be accepted by staff members assigned to cover an event or by those attending for legitimate news purposes. Press facilities at these events may only be used by staff members who are assigned to cover the event. Free tickets or passes may be accepted by staff members for personal use only if tickets are available on the same complimentary basis to non-journalists.
Do not use your position with the paper to obtain a better deal on goods and services. Generally, employees should not accept free food or drinks from sources or others encountered professionally.
In working situations where food is served, such as at sports events or in hospitality rooms, where staffers would find it awkward either to pay or to decline to eat, they are permitted to accept their host’s hospitality in moderation, unless the provided refreshments were furnished by a source that is referenced in the story.
Books, records, tapes or similar materials sent to the newspaper are to be considered news releases, and they become newspaper property. Such materials, once reviewed, may be kept by the reviewer with the consent of the department editor.
G. Online Policies
The online version of The Spectator was launched in January 2001. It is a free Web site and will not require users to pay a fee to access the archives or any other part of the site. Information about individual users and their online movements will not be collected or sold. The same journalistic principles apply to content on the Web site as to content in the print publication. Some general guidelines to follow include:
- Fully confirm all information in stories before posting the stories on the Web. Do not cut corners under any circumstance, no matter how urgent the need is to get the story posted.
- Do not distort the height, width, or color of photos
- Audio and video clips will not be edited in a way to change the meaning.
- Every digital letter, opinion, or discussion link that is not obscene or potentially libelous will be printed in its entirety.
- Online discussion guests should not be allowed to decide which questions to take and which ones to avoid.
- Online surveys should not be characterized as representative of public opinion.
H. E-mail Interviews and Letters to the Editor
The editorial editor will verify by calling or meeting with the authors of any letters to the editor that they did, indeed, write the letter(s). The Spectator places an emphasis on verification of phone numbers and identification to check authenticity of sources and make sure it has permission to use their names. No reporter shall interview a source by email — all interviewing will be done in person or on the phone, unless a compelling reason exists for using email, such as extreme illness or the source being in a foreign country. The reporter still needs to get approval from his/her superior editor to conduct an email interview even in these cases. If it is the editor-in-chief who wishes to use email sourcing, he or she needs to check with the section editor for whom he/she is writing the story.
I. Policy on Freelancing Work
Staff members of The Spectator are encouraged to freelance non-Spectator works to other publications. As student journalists, it is important to gain experience in as many venues as possible. For instance, Spectator staff members are allowed to be employed at other publications concurrently, as long as no conflict of interest problems arise from this dual employment.
In conclusion, when in doubt about any ethical policy not clearly stated in this guidebook, The Spectator uses the Associated Collegiate Press Model Code of Ethics for Collegiate Journalists. However, no guidelines or codes can or should anticipate every situation. Individual cases require individual discussion, so feel free to contact the appropriate editors any time, day or night, if problems arise. In any case in which the appropriate course is unclear, staff members should seek the guidance of their immediate supervisor.
Supervisors, in turn, should consult the editor, managing editor or associate editor before any exception is made. The adviser is an important resource, and should be utilized for advice in situations that require guidance from an experienced journalist.
In summary, always be guided by fairness, accuracy and good common sense.