November 2008 Archives

Like most of my reading responses, several focused on the differences between the Setonian and other, larger student newspapers. I wrote about how some people on staff write a "how to" guide for their particular position, as opposed to a full manual. I didn't know that there was a staff manual. I've been on the staff for three years and I have not seen it or heard of it. I guess that shows how useful it is to everyone. The author also gave suggestions on the process one could go through to become an editor. I wrote about how there isn't any competition for position on the Setonian, so no formal application is necessary.

This section of the book was focused on the legal problems that newspaper can run into. Libel is a big concern and I learned that it really only applies to people who aren't already in the public eye. Politicians can be bashed in opinion editorials and letters to the editor, but their young children, for example, are typically not commented on. I disagreed with the author when it was suggested that possible topics for a student newspaper could be about websites that rate teachers and the comments they have. Those kind of subjects are more for gossip and pop magazines. Obscenity was another controversial issue. Though you shouldn't remove words from people's quotes, removing obscene language keeps the newspapers classy.

SNSG Ch 15


“…a staff manual is a guidebook that will help staffers do their jobs... You may also want to include important campus phone numbers, maps, department listings and other documents to help new staff members.” - Ch. 15, The Student Newspaper Survival Guide by Rachele Kanigel, p. 142.

The Setonian doesn’t have a staff manual, but sometimes certain editors create a “how to” guide for their particular position. I include a list of ways to contact students and faculty when I send out news assignments. It’s much easier that writing it out to each individual that asks.

SNSG Ch 14

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“Many student newspapers relish the freedom of being able to set four-letter words in type. Others see using obscene language as unprofessional.” - Ch. 14, The Student Newspaper Survival Guide by Rachele Kanigel, p. 130.

I’ve never had a problem with students swearing during interviews. If anything they’re too careful about censoring themselves. They always nervously ask, “You won’t make me sound stupid, right? You’ll make me sound smart?”

Though some may argue that obscenities should not be removed from a quote because they show passion, I think that it would make them sound unintelligent. This isn’t true for verbal speech, but I think newspapers have a classy quality to them and obscene language would damage that.

SNSG Ch 13

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“Even if the statement didn’t originate with your staff, if your newspaper or Web site publishes it, you can be held liable.” - Ch. 13, The Student Newspaper Survival Guide by Rachele Kanigel, p. 122.

I didn’t know that libel wasn’t allowed in letters to the editor or columns. Apparently it doesn’t matter what form it takes, as long as they publish it, they are at fault. It just seems like politicians are trashed everywhere - on television, in opinion pieces and columns.

Individuals write damaging statements about them and they publish hostile statements made by other politicians as well. Does libel not apply to notable people? I’ve heard of celebrities suing for libel so perhaps it just doesn’t apply to political figures?

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