Law and Ethics
With a press run of 3,800 copies and a worldwide readership among alumni, a certain maturity and moral sense must accompany every sensitive piece in The ReMarker. It's our responsibility to the communities we engage to tell stories truthfully and respectfully, and at The ReMarker we try to instill our school's motto of "Courage and Honor" into every story.
Along with my aspiration to tell the best stories comes a desire to be an ethical journalist. This stems from an education on proper journalistic procedure starting from ninth grade. In Beginning Journalism, I was educated on cases like Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier and Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District. From this education, I went out into the world to apply my storytelling abilities with a solid ethical background.
- Unprotected speech Frequently, we will have to weigh which curse words we can keep because they are essential to the story, and what we have to cut out. In my recent column "Five day — the hardest kind of love," I edited out several curse words that after talking with the administration, we decided to remove. In that column, we also considered the ramifications of writing about my tenth grade suspension and the people and events surrounding it. Eventually, through working with my advisor and administrators, I had an article prepared that I was confident would avoid obscene and unprotected speech.
- Anonymous sources For our story on socio-economic diversity, we talked to a student on financial aid who we decided would need to be protected by anonymity to avoid ridicule or judgement from others. We wanted the subject to feel as confident as possible in his ability to relate the story of his struggle. Since his story conveyed strictly his personal journey, we decided that the integrity of the facts of the article would not be compromised by the anonymous source.
- Permissions For my web publication, Beyond 10600, which technically functions as an independent publication from The ReMarker, I've diligently asked every author and photographer for permission to use their content so as to avoid plagiarism and copyright infringement. I take the rightful use of content very seriously, and I always strive to protect the work of the writers I employ.
- Polling I've also interacted with anonymous sources through polls I've conducted. In a poll on feminism, I encountered several individuals who said they did not believe that men and women should have equal rights. Since this comment would invoke reactions from many people and since the data would be compared to more than 100 other data sources, the names of these individuals, along with all the others polled, were withheld. When the article was published, we received criticism from some who claimed that our school was bigoted, and countless people have asked me who the five percent of students were. I've had to keep these sources anonymous despite allegations directed at me and countless requests to reveal their names.
- Drones Through my use of drones to capture video and images, I've had to work to establish the legitimacy of a drone as a tool for journalism, especially with the school administration. After some initial confusion over where and when the drones could be used at school and being arbitrarily reprimanded by the administration even though there were no clear rules in place for drone usage on campus, we now have an official drone policy at the school.
As journalists we hold great power. We have the ability to change minds and make progress, but with this power comes responsibility. Through diligence and caution paired with a relentless desire to tell the truth, I've maintained my journalistic probity, and I will continue to write with ethics.