The mission of The Telescope Newspaper is to tell the true stories of Palomar College. This independent, student-run newspaper is the storyteller and megaphone of Palomar College’s history, noting its triumphs and tragedies. We follow the ethical guidelines of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Conflict of Interest
The Telescope newspaper staff is trained to identify and avoid all conflicts of interest when reporting on news stories. The student staff pledges to avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest whenever possible. That includes not accepting gifts, money or food from news sources. That includes no preferential treatment or free admission to any paid event. The only exception is when the seat is in a press box or when tickets are provided for a critic’s review.
The Telescope staff will be committed to fairness. Fairness includes writing stories with as much information as possible and being dedicated to giving all sources a chance to speak. Staff members must also be dedicated to transparency with their readers, even when it includes admitting fault.
The Telescope staff respects taste and decency and aims to exclude lurid or inappropriate information or language unless it is deemed essential to the story.
As with professional newspapers, The Telescope separates its opinion writing with its news writing by clearly labeled sections in both its print edition as well as its website. It is essential that the two types of stories remain separate and distinct to show the reader the difference between objective news coverage and subjective opinion. As such, all opinion stories will be labeled as such:
- Analysis: Interpretation of the news based on evidence and information
- Perspective: Point of view discussion of news including a person’s own experience
- Opinion: A personal argument that includes facts and statistics used to sway an argument
- Review: A critic’s view of a business, performance or other artistic endeavor.
When using social media as a journalistic tool, The Telescope staff should strive to be as professional as possible and remember that all posts made in conjunction with The Telescope are public. The Telescope social media platforms should not be used for political or personal statements and should be used to objectively report The Telescope’s stories.
A Journalist’s Role
The Telescope staff are taught that as journalists, they are not the newsmakers but the neutral, objective recorder of news events. Their stories should reflect this role and it should never be clear or obvious what the reporter personally thinks about the events of a news story or feature. When reporting on the news, The Telescope staff will not misrepresent their identity or their occupation to readers or sources.
The Telescope staff also promised to do the following:
- Fact Checking: Staffers must fact check their information to ensure the veracity of their reporting. The Telescope editors are tasked with the additional work of fact checking and editing the staff’s work.
- Diversity of Sources: Staffers must aim to include a diverse group of sources in every story when possible. Diversity of sources reflects a range of backgrounds and life experiences that is important to share with our readers.
The Telescope newspaper always aims for accurate and fair reporting. If a mistake is made, we resolve to quickly correct the errors in published and digital platforms. The goal of a correction is to give the reader the correct information. If a clarification is more appropriate because facts were confusing or unclear, The Telescope staff will issue a clarification that will provide further explanation or information.
Take-down (unpublish) requests
The Telescope is occasionally asked to take down or unpublish articles from our website. Our general policy is we do not take down articles unless there is a compelling reason such as the threat of physical harm. The student editorial staff will consider all requests and base their decisions on the circumstances of the request and how it relates to our mission and our journalism ethics. Those wishing to have an article taken down may fill out this form.
Policy on sources
The Telescope newspaper staff is taught to disclose all sources to its readers and reach as many sources as possible. Student journalists know they need to make their reporting as transparent to the readers as possible. To that end, confidential or anonymous sources are discouraged at The Telescope and only used when the information is deemed crucial and cannot be found in a named way. Confidential sources must be known to the editor or adviser before publication. The Telescope staff is also taught how to treat sources.
- Quoting sources accurately and fairly
- Being transparent in how a source was contacted
- Giving a source adequate time to response
- Making multiple attempts to contact sources
- Telling the reader how/why they declined to respond.
- Never letting a source review our stories before publishing
- Never misleading sources
- Attributing sources by all necessary information to avoid confusion.
- Explaining the rules to sources: as follows:
- On the record: Source is named and can be quoted.
- On background: Source can be quoted but not by name. Instead, another identifier is used, such as describing their role in the story. Ex: Palomar official..
- Deep background: This is an anonymous source where they are not described at all. The information can be used but not quoted.
- Off the record: This information cannot be published and the source cannot be identified.
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