At the June meeting of the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly’s Board of Directors, The Southwester’s editor-in-chief was charged with developing a formal editorial policy to guide the administration and publication of The Southwester. Now that a draft policy has been developed, The Southwester invites its readers to weigh in. The draft policy is posted below; please read it and leave a comment (or, if you prefer, send your comment to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Editorial Policy Comment” in the subject line). Your input is important to us and will be used by the Board of Directors to shape the final editorial policy.
The Southwester is dedicated to providing the Southwest-Waterfront neighborhood with a high quality community newspaper which recognizes and celebrates the achievements of community members; shares pertinent news and information of interest to the community; promotes neighborhood cohesion, community engagement, and good citizenship; and advances the mission of its parent organization, the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly.
I. Roles and Responsibilities
The Southwester is staffed entirely by volunteers except for those functions for which volunteer support is unavailable, which are contracted out. It is managed in accordance with the Bylaws of the Southwester Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA); the SWNA Board of Directors (Board) retains ultimate authority over all activities of The Southwester.
A. Editorial Staff
1. Editor-in-Chief: The organization is led by the editor-in-chief, who is named by the SWNA President and Board and may appoint other volunteers to assist him/her (see below). The editor-in-chief’s duties include oversight of all editorial aspects of The Southwester; management of correspondence, vetting of all submissions for production; leadership of the paper production process; and final decisions on content, format, and any other necessary matters.
2. Assistant Editors: The editor-in-chief may appoint assistant editors to manage certain aspects of The Southwester’s business. These may include copy, layout, web, or advertising. Assistant editors manage any volunteers working with them and have primary responsibility for their assigned area(s), subject to the oversight of the editor-in-chief.
1. Any member of the Southwest community or representative of an entity which directly affects or is involved with the Southwest community may submit articles or photographs for publication in The Southwester. These submissions, regardless of the contributor, are subject to the content policy outlined in Section II, below.
2. By submitting material to The Southwester, contributors consent to such minor editing as is necessary to ensure high quality copy with a consistent format and address any space constraints imposed by the print edition. Any submissions which require major modifications meet these criteria or the content policy will be returned to the contributor, along with a specific description of the changes requested. The determination of what constitutes major or minor modifications rests with the editor-in-chief, and is subject to the capacity of the Southwester’s volunteers.
3. All submissions will be clearly and unambiguously attributed to their author. This includes photographs, but does not apply to items submitted to the community calendar due to space and format restrictions.
II. Content Policies
In order to fulfill the terms of its mission statement, The Southwester must exercise a certain degree of control over the content it publishes. To ensure The Southwester’s continued quality a number of requirements, listed below, must be met to qualify a submission for publication. Determination as to whether a submission meets or does not meet any of these criteria is made by the editor-in-chief assisted by any relevant members of the editorial staff.
A. Content-Specific Requirements
1. Location-specific: Because The Southwester is a neighborhood-centered publication, all content must demonstrated an immediate connection to the Southwester-Waterfront neighborhood and its residents. This requirements may be waived for certain features of more general interest to the community (such as health and wellness topics), but these may not take precedence over neighborhood-specific content.
2. Articles vs. Advertisements: Because The Southwester relies heavily on advertising revenues to fund its operations, no article shall be published whose primary purpose is to solicit customers for a specific commodity or service. Contributors of such articles will be invited to purchase an advertisement instead.
3. Political content: Because The Southwester is an inclusive, community-wide venture, it shall not endorse candidates for political office (that is, any elected position within any government or government-sponsored organization), nor shall it publish articles or advertisements which endorse or solicit votes for any particular candidate or political party. This requirement may be waived by the SWNA Board for the sole purpose of soliciting candidate statements to better inform voters of their choices in an upcoming election. In this case, all candidates for the office(s) in question will be invited to submit statements; should only a subset of all candidates respond, the Board must decide whether to publish a partial set (which duly notes which candidates did not provide statements despite the invitation).
B. Style & Tone Requirements
1. Acceptable Language: The Southwester shall not publish profanity, epithets of any nature (racial, sexual, socio-economic, etc.), or any other terminology which the editorial staff deems offensive to The Southwester’s readership. Any submissions containing such language will be automatically returned to the contributor for editing.
2. Acceptable Theme: The Southwester shall not publish any content which incites readers to crime; violence; acts of hate, discrimination, or intolerance; or any other behavior which violates the basic rights of the community. Such submissions will be automatically returned to the contributor for editing.
3. Acceptable Style & Tone: To foster civil discourse, The Southwester shall not publish any submissions which are overly aggressive, sarcastic, or vitriolic in nature. Such tone does not invite reasoned discussion but rather promotes accusations, unending arguments, and unhealthy conflict. Such submissions will be automatically returned to the contributor for editing.
4. On Libel: The Southwester takes its role as a quality community newspaper very seriously, and such will not publish any content which may be reasonably construed as libel. This includes character assassinations, ad hominem attacks, unsubstantiated accusations of any sort of malfeasance, or attempts to damage an individual or group’s good name. While contributors are entitled to hold whatever opinions they wish, The Southwester is not obligated to publish those which it deems injurious to members of the community or the community as a whole. Submissions which may be reasonably construed as libel will be immediately returned to the contributor for editing.
This editorial policy entered into force on _(date TBD) after being approved by the SWNA Board. It remains in effect until replaced by another policy or discarded. Such actions may only be taken if initiated by the editor-in-chief and approved by the SWNA Board.