Editorial Policies

Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the journalism staff and not of Berkeley High School or the Berkeley Unified School District. When factual errors occur, we will update the content item with a statement of correction and correct the error within the content. If you find a mistake, please contact [email protected].

Mission Statement

The Berkeley High Jacket is a designated public forum for student expression without prior review by school officials in which students make all final decisions on content.

The Berkeley High Jacket will publish complete and accurate coverage through journalistically responsible, ethically reported and edited content. Student-determined expression promotes democratic citizenship through public engagement diverse in both ideas and representation.

The bylined opinions expressed in the editorial, opinion, and entertainment sections and columns are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Jacket. Non-bylined editorials represent the opinion of the Jacket and must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Editorial Board. Any opinions or views expressed in advertisements do not necessarily reflect those of the Jacket.

We encourage students, staff, and the community to submit letters to the editor for publication. All submissions must be signed; anonymous letters may only be printed with a two-thirds vote of the Editorial Board. Not all submissions will be printed and may be edited to conform to Jacket policy or to meet space restrictions.

Editorial Guidelines

Freedom of the Press

As it is essential to preserve the freedom of the press in order to preserve a free society:

  • The Jacket will serve the best interest of the students and faculty of Berkeley High School, keeping itself free from any commercial obligations distracting from this purpose.
  • Any decisions affecting the publications on all levels will be made by the editorial board. The adviser is allowed to give legal advice and his/her opinion, but the final decision rests in the hands of the editorial board.
  • Only the editorial board may prevent material it judges to be in violation of the Jacket editorial policy, from being printed.
  • The Jacket will vigorously resist all attempts at censorship, particularly pre-publication censorship.
  • The Jacket retains the right to publish any and all material attained through an interview by a staff member of the publications staff, holding that the interviewee was made aware that the information could be published in any form at any time.
  • The Jacket is designated a public forum.
  • Student journalists may use print and electronic media to report news and information, to communicate with other students and individuals, to ask questions of and consult with experts and to gather material to meet their news gathering and research needs.
  • The Jacket and its staff are protected by and bound to the principles of the First Amendment and other protections and limitations afforded by the Constitution and the various laws and court decisions implementing those principles.
  • The Jacket will not publish any material determined by student editors or the student editorial board to be unprotected, that is, material that is libelous, obscene, materially disruptive of the school process, an unwarranted invasion of privacy, a violation of copyright or a promotion of products or services unlawful (illegal) as to minors as defined by state or federal law.

The Editorial Board

  • The editorial board will consist of all student staff editors.
  • The editorial board decides on all decisions that pertain directly to the Jacket and its interests.
  • No member of the editorial board shall have more than one vote on the board.
  • All members of the editorial board are expected to know their duties and jobs in the room and must understand the consequences of not fulfilling said jobs.
  • The student editor and staff who want appropriate outside legal advice regarding proposed content – should seek attorneys knowledgeable in media law such as those of the Student Press Law Center. Final content decisions and responsibility shall remain with the student editorial board.
  • The duly appointed editor or co-editors shall interpret and enforce this editorial policy.

Role of the Advisor

  • The adviser is a professional teaching staff member and is in charge of the class just as in a conventional classroom situation.
  • Is a journalism teacher that serves as a professional role model, motivator, catalyst for ideas and professionalism, and an educational resource.
  • Provides a journalistic, professional learning atmosphere for students by allowing them to make the decision of content for the Jacket and ensuring the Jacket will remain an open forum.
  • Guides the newspaper staff in accordance with approved editorial policy and aids the educational process related to producing the newspaper.
  • May caution, act as legal consultant and educator in terms of unprotected speech, but has no power over censorship or veto except for constitutionally valid reasons.
  • Will keep abreast of the latest trends in journalism and share these with students.
  • Will submit the newspaper, podcast(s), and online content produced by the students to rating services and contests in order for the school publications staff to receive feedback.
  • Will forward any received correspondence and/or information to the appropriate editors.
  • Will provide information to the staff about journalism scholarships and other financial aid, and make available information and contacts concerning journalism as a career.
  • Will work with the faculty and administration to help them understand the freedoms accorded to the students and the professional goals of the school publications.
  • The adviser will not act as a censor or determine the content of the paper. The adviser will offer advice and instruction, following the Code of Ethics for Advisers established by the Journalism Education Association as well as the Canons of Professional Journalism. School officials shall not fire or otherwise discipline advisers for content in student media that is determined and published by the student staff

Role of School Administration

  • The Berkeley High School administration will provide the students of Berkeley High with a qualified journalism instructor to serve as a professional role model, adequate classroom equipment, and space for a sound journalism program.
  • Berkeley High administration will offer equal opportunity to minority and/or marginalized students to participate in journalism programs.
  • Berkeley High administration is not required to view and approve publication content before publishing.

Content of the Berkeley High Jacket


All content decisions will be made via the following provisions, while keeping in mind that the overall purpose, role and goal of the Jacket is to:

  • Inform, interpret, and entertain their viewers through accurate and factual reports, where information has been thoroughly gathered and information has been completely verified.
  • Serve as an educational laboratory experience for those on staff.
  • Be accurate, fair, and impartial in its coverage of issues that affect the school community.
  • The Jacket will not avoid publishing a story solely on the basis of possible dissent or controversy.
  • Cover the total school population as effectively and accurately as possible.
  • The staff of the Jacket will strive to report all issues in a legal, objective, accurate and ethical manner, according to the Canons of Professional Journalism developed by the Society for Professional Journalists. The Canons of Professional Journalism include a code of ethics concerning accuracy, responsibility, integrity, conflict of interest, impartiality, fair play, freedom of the press, independence, sensationalism, personal privacy, obstruction of justice, credibility and advertising.


  • The Jacket will not print unnecessary profanity.
  • The editorial board will make the decision on whether content is considered profane or whether it is a cultural or non-vulgar slang term.
  • The editorial board reserves the right to edit quotes for unnecessary profanity or unnecessarily offensive words, quotes that have been edited will be noted accordingly when published.
  • Any edited quote will be read back to the source prior to publishing and sources will have a chance to make changes.
  • Staff interviewers have the right to ask a source when necessary to repeat a quote without the use of profane language.

Staff Writing

  • All writing in the Jacket, other than letters to the editor, or solicited contributions (such as guest columns), will be written by students of the journalism program and will not be accepted otherwise.
  • Berkeley High students outside of the Jacket staff will have the opportunity to submit writing to the Jacket.
  • Any writing submitted from an outside source for use will be accepted upon request of the editorial board or when open opportunities arise, and will be viewed by the EIC and adviser for verification.
  • Any material submitted from an outside source can be edited by the editorial board and must comply with this policy.
  • Writing must be the original work of the writer and not previously published an any publication, unless otherwise specified by the adviser and EIC.


  • All editorials printed will be bylined as: “by The Editorial Board”.
  • Editorial ideas may be submitted to the editorial board by all members of the appropriate staff.
  • All printed editorial subject matter will be determined by the editorial board.
  • The Jacket will not publish any material for which there is evidence that the author is using the paper for inappropriate personal gain.
  • The Jacket will endeavor to provide a chance for comment on all sides of a critical issue in the same edition.
  • The editorial board, which consists of the staff’s student editors, will determine the content, including all unsigned editorials. The views stated in editorials represent that of a majority of the editorial board. Signed columns or reviews represent only the opinion of the author.

Controversial Issues

  1. All coverage of controversial issues will occur in a timely fashion.
  2. All sides of the issue will be presented and reviewed so as to refrain from any bias, with exception of opinions.
  3. In news, all sides of a school, community, city, state, national, or international political issue will be presented factually so as to inform rather than promote or endorse.
  4. The Jacket will not publish material that is obscene, libelous, or an invasion of privacy.
  5. The Jacket will not attack.
  6. If questions regarding the veracity of publication persists, the issue will be brought to the editorial board who must consider the following questions before publication of the piece:
    • Why is it a concern?
    • What is its journalistic purpose?
    • Is the information accurate and complete?
    • Are any important POV omitted?
    • How would we feel if the story was about ourselves or someone we know?
    • What are the consequences of publication?
    • Is there a logical explanation to anyone who challenges issue?
    • Is it worth risking our credibility?
    • What are the alternatives?


  • All articles, graphics, photos, art, columns, pages, reviews, and other material creatively conceived, with exception to staff editorials, mug shots and cut-outs will be bylined with the producer’s name.
  • All bylined writers will be held accountable for their work.
  • When more than one person has contributed creatively to a piece of work, any person who has contributed to the work must be bylined as a producer.

News & Features

  • The Jacket will specialize in and emphasize informing their readers of school news and unique students of the Berkeley High School community.
  • The Jacket will cover community, state, national, and international news if it is directly relevant to the school community, and includes local angle.
  • The Jacket will strive to provide coverage to all school organizations and functions.
  • When faced with the undesirable news such as student or staff or faculty crimes, the publications will endeavor to publish the facts correctly, explain the issue, and put a stop to any speculative stories that inevitably develop.
  • Major district issues and news will be priority over school news (these major issues will be decided by the editorial board).

Regarding Deaths

  • Any current student, staff member, faculty member or administrator that dies during the year will be recognized in the Jacket.
  • The Jacket will publish factual information (date of birth, date of death, survivors, organizations, hobbies, interests) in a 300-word obituary including one mug shot if possible in the Jacket and online.
  • The Jacket will work to obtain permission from the deceased’s family before publishing any information regarding the cause of death, if permission is not granted, the editorial board reserves the final say in publication of cause of death. Suicide will not be listed as a cause of death.
  • The Jacket will treat all deaths in a tasteful and respectful way.


  • All captions will record the who and other necessary information in the photo.
  • All photographs must be captioned and bylined, with the exception of mugs and cutouts.
  • Bylines are required on all online photos and galleries.
  • Any photographs that contain any inappropriate attire or actions must be reshot.
  • Artwork represents the interpretations of the artist, not necessarily of the staff or Berkeley High.
  • The Jacket will not publish any photos, illustrations etc. that ridicule, demean, or misleadingly represent any individual or group.
  • Electronic manipulations changing the essential truth of the photo or illustration will be clearly labeled if used.


  • Concerns about errors in the Jacket may be submitted through the advisor ([email protected]) or through the published email of the EIC.
  • The editorial board retains the right to determine whether, in fact, an error has been made.
  • Known and or found errors that are brought to the attention of the Jacket will be addressed regardless if realized by author, audience, or staff member.
  • Staff members will strive to correct errors prior to publication; however, if the editorial board determines a significant error is printed, the editorial board will determine the manner and timeliness of a correction.
  • Major corrections are determined by the editors and adviser.
  • If changes are made to a web story once a story has been posted, the change will be noted along with the date and time the change was made.


  • The publications will not accept advertising for products that are illegal for minors to purchase and/or use.
  • Students not of legal age whose photographs appear in an advertisement of the publications are required to sign a model release form, as well as their legal guardian.
  • The publications will not accept personal or classified advertising.
  • If a published advertisement is incorrect in substantive content, a reduced price or corrected run will be negotiated.
  • Advertising that appears in the Jacket is not necessarily endorsed by the Jacket or its staff members, editorial board or adviser.


  • The paper will begin at no less than 16 pages in broadsheet format unless it is a special edition. The number of pages can be altered if need be under the decision of the adviser and/or editorial board.
  • The school newspaper will be distributed free of charge to all students according to a distribution schedule approved by the adviser and editors. Newspapers will be distributed every 2 weeks, unless specified otherwise by the adviser and editorial board.
  • Current copies of the school newspaper will also be displayed in the library, main office, and in the newsroom.
  • All budget surpluses are to be used for future production of the Jacket.
  • The paper will be distributed at the beginning of fourth period on the day of publication.
  • The school newspaper will sell subscriptions for the price of $85 for the entire year.
  • Exchange publications are received and displayed in journalism laboratory.
  • Exchange publications are mailed to other media rooms across the US.

Letters to the Editor & Online Comments

  • Letters to editor will be printed in the opinion section of the newspaper and/or on the website.
  • Guidelines to write letters to the editor will be printed every issue in the opinion section of the paper and available online.
  • Letters to the editor may be submitted to Mr. Rodrigues’ mailbox, the newsroom or emailed to Mr. Rodrigues ([email protected]) or the published email address of the EIC.
  • Letters to editor should not exceed 300 words, must be signed and must include writer’s phone number for verification.
  • Letters to the editor will be verified by a member of the editorial board to determine the authenticity of the writer.
  • No material will be printed where content is obscene, invasive of others’ privacy, encouraging physical disruption of school activities, and/or implies libel.
  • The Berkeley High Jacket editorial board reserves the right to withhold a letter or column or other submission and/OR return it for revision if it contains unprotected speech or grammatical errors that could hamper its meaning. Deadlines for letters and columns will be determined by each year’s student staff, allowing sufficient time for verification of authorship prior to publication.
  • The Jacket will only publish one letter, per author, per issue.
  • All letters to the editor become the property of the school newspaper upon receipt and will not be returned to the author.
  • Online comments will require a name and email address submitted that are verifiable.
  • Online comments will automatically post.
  • Alerts will be sent to staff editors each time a comment is posted to the site.
  • Personal attacks are not allowed.


  • The reviewer should have experience in the area in which they are reviewing
  • All reviews will be bylined and all reviews will be expressed opinions of authors. The editorial board and newspaper staff does not express opinions on the subject matter.
  • All reviews will be to evaluate and inform, not to promote or denigrate.
  • Evaluative criteria used will be determined by editorial board depending on whether the event or item being reviewed is professional or amateur in nature.
  • All reviews must first be reviewed by the opinions editor prior to publishing.
  • All reviews need to be reviewed and printed in a current and timely manner.
  • Coverage of student productions will typically be in the form of a preview or feature rather than a review unless a student with sufficient experience and knowledge is available to review the production, and the review can be published while the performance is ongoing.

Social Media

  • Social media will be used to promote the Jacket, to promote published content and to engage the Berkeley High community.
  • The editorial board reserves the right to remove comments that violate any provisions hitherto outlined by this policy.
  • Information posted on social media platforms should be held to the same standard as all other reporting in terms of information gathering and fact checking.
  • The official social media accounts should avoid promotion of events and remain objective, reporting what is fact. Reporters using personal social media to cover events should do the same.
  • Information gained through social media channels should be verified through multiple channels before passing it along to others.
  • Audience engagement through social media should be done in a professional manner.
  • Staff members using applications to post updates to social media accounts should have separate applications for their personal account and for the Jacket accounts. This will limit the chance of a post being sent from the wrong account.
  • Transparency is important. Mistakes made on social media posts should be corrected as soon as possible and any deleted posts should be acknowledged in subsequent postings.


  • The goal of the Jacket marketing is to promote and expand the Jacket viewing audience.
  • Contests are run by members of the staff and regulated by the school’s marketing team and EICs.
  • The publicity team will work to attend all major events held by the district or school with the intent of promotion.
  • All events or important dates known by adviser, staff members or editorial board will be passed along to the Business Manager.
  • The Business Manager will assign at least one member of the business team to participate in each event.

Prior Review Policy

  • Sources will be able to have quotes read back at the time of interview or at reporter’s initiative.
  • Sources will not be able to arbitrarily demand to read the reporters completed story and then perform editing tasks on that story.
  • The reporters will endeavor to include the name and identity of all sources if reporter believes that doing so will not result in endangerment, harassment or any other form of undue physical, mental, emotional anguish for the source.
  • The reporters will not, within all boundaries of law, reveal a source who asks to remain nameless.
  • All interviewers will respect the interviewees rights to have information remain “off the record” if the fact is known before giving the information to the interviewer.
  • The Jacket will not be reviewed by anyone outside of the editorial board aside from the adviser prior to its release to the public, the adviser is allowed to review the publication, but not required to, for the sole purpose of acting as legal consultant and educator in terms of unprotected speech; the adviser reading content is not considered prior review unless he/she makes changes or directs changes.

Staff Selection & Dismissal


  • Editor-in-chief(s) and other editor level positions are chosen by the previous year’s editorial board, with input from the faculty adviser.
  • New and returning staff are judged by application and previous work.
  • Applicants are not turned down because of age, race, sex, religion, mental or physical handicap that do not impair editorial responsibilities.


  • All individuals involved with Berkeley High Jacket are considered a team, each member is expected to complete all assigned stories, pages, photos, etc. on or before the assigned deadline. Staff members, including editors, may be suspended from publication, or demoted from their position if any of following violations occur:
    1. Continuously missed deadlines (dismissal procedures will take place by choice of adviser and EIC)
    1. Plagiarism
    2. Quote falsification
    3. Vandalism or theft of publication equipment
    4. Continuous negative, pessimistic or unprofessional attitude toward staff member or adviser
    5. Submitting an advanced page design, story, photo or other publishable item to anyone outside the Jacket staff without approval by the editorial board
    6. Failing to fulfill job as outlined in job description
    7. Behavior that might discredit the reputation of the staff member or the Jacket at the discretion of the EIC and the adviser.
  • The above list of infractions could all result in dismissal however, staff dismissals are not limited to the listed infractions.
  • Major infractions will result in immediate dismissal from staff duties and dismissal from class and staff at the end of semester (major infractions include but are not limited to following: plagiarism, vandalism, theft).
  • Minor infractions will be given a warning on the first violation. The second will result in immediate dismissal from staff duties and dismissal from class and staff at end of semester.
  • A dismissed staff member receiving academic credit may be given a grade of F and will not be allowed to apply to Jacket in the future (will not preempt school policy).
  • Dismissal procedures are reviewed and approved by the editorial board.
  • All dismissal appeals will be directed to the school administration and the editorial board.


  • Questions or complaints concerning material published in the Jacket should be made in writing to the editor-in-chief who will present the concern at the next scheduled editorial board meeting.
  • Complaints and suggestions may be emailed to [email protected], dropped off in room G-108B, or emailed to the published address of the EIC.
  • Resolutions will be made within limits of deadlines.

Professional Affiliation

  • The Berkeley High Jacket should be a member of state, national, and/or international organizations.
  • The Berkeley High Jacket will work to be in contact with professional media such as the Daily Californian, Berkeleyside, and the San Francisco Chronicle as well as other individuals and companies in the communications field ranging from public relations and advertising to promotions and copy writing.


This code of ethics is adapted from Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics. Changes made were to reflect the practices and policies of Berkeley High School and high school journalism. These policies apply equally to all staff members, editors, and the adviser(s).


Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. Journalists should:

  • Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible.
  • Remember that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy.
  • Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.
  • Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story. – Be cautious when making promises, but keep the promises they make.
  • Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.
  • Consider sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Explain why anonymity was granted.
  • Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.
  • Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public.
  • Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.
  • Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
  • Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.
  • Provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate.
  • Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience, particularly at Berkeley High School. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.
  • Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.
  • Label advocacy and commentary.
  • Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.
  • Never plagiarize. Always attribute.

Minimizing Harm

Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.

  • Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.
  • Show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage. Use heightened sensitivity when dealing with juveniles, victims of sex crimes, and sources or subjects who are inexperienced or unable to give consent. Consider cultural differences in approach and treatment.
  • Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast.
  • Realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence or attention. Weigh the consequences of publishing or broadcasting personal information.
  • Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do.
  • Balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know. Consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges.
  • Consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of publication. Provide updated and more complete information as appropriate.
  • Act Independently
  • Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts. BHS Jacket reporters should not report on events, clubs, or issues that they are members of or have direct involvement in.
  • Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment.
  • Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.
  • Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.
  • Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
  • Be Accountable and Transparent
  • Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public.
  • Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Encourage a civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage and news content.
  • Respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness.
  • Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly.
  • Expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their organizations. – Abide by the same high standards they expect of others.

Comment Policy

We give the opportunity to comment in order to foster a healthy debating environment and reserve the right to reject comments that stray away from that objective. Do not submit comments that use any language that is derogatory, abusive, libelous or discriminatory on the basis of race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual preference, age, region, disability, etc; include repeated messages, meaningless messages, or “spam”; threaten others, including the author of the article and other individuals that post comments on the site; publish or distribute any content that advertises or solicits goods or services; or by our judgement are unacceptable.

Last updated on January 20, 2021