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Model Guidelines

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Job Description for Publication Advisers
From: High School Journalism Confronts Critical Deadline,
by Journalism Education Association, 1987
(Guidelines were originated by John Bowen and approved by JEA Board of Directors)

The Journalism Education Association urges advisers and school systems to consider these guidelines as a working document. They should be adapted to fit individual needs of each school’s journalism program while upholding the principles expressed.

Student publications are a valid and integral part of the educational system. They are recognized by that system as providing students with a hands-on learning laboratory that gives them the chance to put into practice the most noble ideals of English, social studies and other core areas of learning.

As such, the school recognizes and accepts the obligation to conduct all journalism learning experiences in as complete and as professional a manner as possible, and, whenever possible, will hire a state certified and qualified journalism teacher/adviser as part of its commitment to excellence.

Responsibility of the adviser:

1. Produce a journalistically professional learning atmosphere and experience for the students, allow students to make decisions concerning content of the publication, and ensure the publications will remain an open forum.

2. Work with students to increase their competence in the following areas:

  • determining news values
  • selecting news stories and in-depth stories
  • selecting feature stories
  • selecting sports stories
  • selecting opinion articles
  • developing and applying legal and ethical knowledge
  • learning aspects of the interviewing process
  • learning aspects of journalism and research skills
  • learning aspects of journalism note-taking skills
  • learning source-identification aspects, use
  • learning aspects of proper attribution in stories
  • writing news stories
  • writing feature stories
  • writing sports stories
  • writing in-depth stories
  • writing editorials
  • writing columns and commentary
  • writing reviews
  • learning journalism-editing procedures as part of the writing process
  • developing art ideas and producing art work
  • developing design ideas
  • designing and laying out pages
  • learning the photographic process
  • identifying new trends in content and design
  • learning advertising procedures
  • learning to use the computer in publications work

3. Provide the students with an educated, professional role model as adviser and serve as a motivator and catalyst for ideas and professionalism.

4. Evaluate student participation by using journalism standards.

5. Act as an educational resource for legal freedoms and restrictions for students and encourage discussion of ethics and content.

6. Provide the opportunity for students to produce a publication consistent with the First Amendment and court decisions, without faculty or administrative censorship, within the standards of professional journalism and the Society of Professional Journalists/Sigma Delta Chi’s Code of Ethics.

7. Act as a helpful adviser, but not as a censor, to students in all steps of publishing. In terms of unprotected speech, the adviser’s role will be to act as a consultant and as an educator.

8. Develop, with the staff, an editorial policy consistent with legal precedent, court decisions and professional journalistic freedoms, which will also be agreed upon and signed by the principal.

9. Help the staff establish policies that include

  • roles of all staff positions
  • role of the editorial board
  • standards of professional journalism and procedures for the staff
  • style and design guidelines
  • a code of ethics for the publication and staff
  • advertising procedures
  • staff application and selection policies
  • staff member removal policy
  • appeals procedure
  • credit procedure
  • photography rules and guidelines
  • computer training
  • equipment use rules
  • office guidelines
  • decision making and consultation

10. Work with students

  • in regular planning sessions with the staff
  • in regular training session in all aspects of journalism
  • in meeting schedules and deadlines
  • in counseling staffers in coverage of school life
  • in the process of gathering information

11. Order supplies and equipment; supervise the distribution, collection, maintenance and inventory control of such equipment in accordance with publication needs and school policy.

12. Supervise the financial status of the publication, and encourage fiscal responsibility.

Further, the adviser is encouraged to support the following actions:

  • Work with students to determine publication size and frequency based on content consideration, and a workable publication and distribution policy.
  • Work with faculty and administration to help them understand the freedoms accorded students and the goals of the publication.
  • Belong to professional and educational organizations and participate, with the students, in activities of these organizations, including local, state, regional and national conventions/seminars.
  • Be aware of the trends in journalism and share them with the students.
  • Urge students to attend summer journalism workshops and conventions so they may improve their skills. If necessary, the adviser will make every effort, with the school system’s assistance, to pay part of the cost of the workshops through special money-raising activities or special advertising campaigns.
  • Be a source of information for prospective staff, and work with English teachers and others in an effort to recruit new staff members, including minorities.
  • Submit the publications and contributions of students to rating services and contests so the student staff receives external feedback.
  • Provide the staff with information about journalism scholarships and other financial aid as well as about journalism as a career.
  • Establish an exchange with other schools in the region, state and nation to share ideas and to be aware of trends. The program may include participation in national student wire services.
Before the adviser can be expected to advise and teach competently, the school board and administration should fulfill the following obligations:
  • Provide a qualified and/or certified adviser who can competently advise students.
  • Provide extra planning time for the adviser within the school day in consideration of the schedule and outside-of-school time demanded.
  • Provide adequate financial support for the publication so it may continue to publish and perform as a valuable educational learning experience for students and community readers as well as for staff members.
  • Provide adequate support in the form of equipment and supplies so the publication can be technologically up to date.
  • Provide time for the adviser to attend and participate in seminars, workshops and conventions and to accompany students to such meetings so they may improve their skills.
  • Agree through an editorial policy that the content of the publication is the responsibility of the students who have rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.
  • Ensure the publication remain an open forum for student expression at all times.
  • Establish a priority for publishing and printing that is consistent with the First Amendment and educational concept of the publication.