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Editorial Policies

Overview

The Bell, an online publication maintained by and whose content is updated by students at Bellarmine College Preparatory, is a designated public forum for student expression and the discussion of school-related issues of concern to its readership. Content is determined by student editors in consultation with the advisers and the administration. The following editorial policies apply to all work produced by the Bell online staff.

Free Press Laws

The Bell identifies itself as an open student forum, a publication where students can make their voices heard. This exempts the Bell from prior review by the administration, but the administration reserves its right to censor content as required by law or to maintain a positive image of Bellarmine College Preparatory.

§ In addition to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, California Educ. Code Sec. 48950, also known as the “Leonard Law,” prohibits private high schools from making or enforcing any rule that would subject a student to disciplinary action for engaging in expression (on or off campus) that would be protected by the First Amendment or the California Constitution’s free expression provision if it occurred off campus. It states: “It is the intent of the Legislature that a student shall have the same right to exercise his or her right to free speech on campus as he or she enjoys when off campus.” Nothing in section 48950 will be construed to supersede, or otherwise limit or modify, the provisions of Section 48907, commonly known as the Student Free Expression Law. Section 48907 gives students the “right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press” and protects teachers and other school personnel against retaliation for students’ lawful exercise of their free-speech rights.

§ Students inherently have the “right of expression” as long as they do not publish material “which is obscene, libelous, or slanderous. Also prohibited shall be material that so incites pupils as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts on school premises or the violation of lawful school regulations, or the substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.”

§ All requests from the administration for content to be removed must be submitted formally in writing from the current Principal (in the form of a letter or email from a school-issued email address) to the current Editor(s)-in-Chief, as well as the staff advisers.

§ If a formal request is made, the current Editor(s)-in-Chief will have a face-to-face conversation with the current Principal to discuss the reason for removal.

Rights of the Student Body

As the official publication of the Bellarmine College Preparatory student body, the Bell assures all students the following rights:

§ All students have the right to comment on content published on the Bell. All comments must adhere to the comment policy.

§ All students have the right to submit articles, commentary, photos/videos to the Bell. Content submitted will be evaluated by the Bell editors and published if it meets the Bell’s expectations for quality and timeliness.

§ All students have the right to apply for staff and editorial positions on the Bell.

Ethical Concerns

The Bell staff will work to meet the standards set by the National Scholastic Press Association’s Model Code of Ethics for High School Journalists.

The Bell staff will not alter the content of photos through technological or other means. Image enhancements for technical clarity is always permissible. Photo illustrations are acceptable, but should be clearly labelled. Likewise, the staff will not stage or re-create news events for photographs. The Bell staff will not publish images or other work without properly crediting the creators of that work and obtaining reprint/rebroadcast permissions of copyrighted work. Copyright permission for student work is implied in the relationship between students and the Bell.

The Bell will not engage in plagiarism in any form.

In the interest of representing a broad range of views, the Bell staff will make efforts to avoid having a staff member interviewing his friends or classmates whenever possible and instead will seek out a broad range of sources for every story.

Opinion Articles

Opinion articles written by staff members represent their personal views. The opinions expressed do not represent the Bell as a publication or Bellarmine College Preparatory.

Use of Language

When writing straight news pieces, the Bell will refrain from swearing, using slang terms and/or slurs. There is no reason for these words to be included in an unbiased, objective news story. When including quotations however, it is often essential to the story to use the quote verbatim. In blogs, opinion pieces, and other first person accounts, it may be necessary to the reporters’ voice and message to use slang or other words that would be inappropriate for a straight news piece. In some cases, the first letter of the word will be printed followed by asterisks or dashes. Final decisions regarding the use of language will be made by the editorial board. These same standards apply to multimedia stories.

Corrections

Members of the Bell aim to submit error-free content and will correct errors after posting when necessary. Spelling and grammar errors in published content will be corrected in a timely manner. Errors in information will be corrected as soon as possible with a notice appended to the end of the story. To submit a correction, email thebell@bcp.org.

Comment Policy

§ The Bell values the opinion of its readers and encourages them to discuss its content.

§ Comments containing obscene, suggestive, vulgar, profane (including letters followed by dashes or symbols), threatening, disrespectful or defamatory language will not be published.

§ Attacks on groups or individuals based on race, gender, sexual orientation or creed will be rejected.

§ All threats are taken seriously. If the editorial board and advisers are worried for someone’s safety, the comment and related identifying information will be passed along to relevant authorities and/or the school administration.

§ All comments are approved by the Bell editorial board. Comments are reviewed as often as possible. This process results in a delay of anywhere from a few hours to a day before a comment is posted.

§ Do not misrepresent yourself by using someone else’s name.

§ The Bell encourages its readers to use their real names, but will not publish comments written by people who share their name until it has been verified that the comment was in fact written by that person.

§ The Bell is open to strong opinions and criticism of its work, but the Bell does not publish comments discussing its policies and practices. Please stay on topic.

§ The Bell welcomes strong opinions and criticism of its reporters’ work. However, personal attacks on reporters will not be published. If you feel strongly that something was reported poorly or strongly disagree with an opinion, we encourage you to submit a full article or commentary on the subject.

§ Comments should be under 300 words. If you feel strongly about an issue, the Bell recommends submitting a full commentary on the subject.

§ The views expressed in comments are solely the authors’ and do not reflect the views of the Bell or Bellarmine College Preparatory.

§ Once submitted, comments become the property of the Bell.

Commenter Privacy

§ When you submit a comment to the Bell, it becomes our property. We adhere to our comment policy when posting.

§ When you submit a comment, the name you provide, the email address (or Facebook/Twitter profile link) and your IP address are collected. Submitting a comment is the only time the Bell advisers and the editorial board have access to view your IP address. We cannot pair IP addresses from our analytics with those in comments.

§ All threats are taken seriously. Comments containing threats to someone’s safety (including your own) will immediately be sent to the Bellarmine College Preparatory administration and the San Jose Police Department with all information provided, including IP address.

§ Hate speech, defined as speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, is not protected speech. At the editorial board’s sole discretion, comments containing hate speech may be passed along to school administrators if deemed cruel and malevolent. We believe in healthy, strong criticism of ideas and beliefs, not cruelty.

Anonymous Data Collection

§ The Bell anonymously collects traffic data to help serve our audience with a better experience. This data cannot be used to identify specific individuals. We use industry-leading analytics software to securely collect the following information:

§ Visits, page views and time spent on each page.

§ Traffic sources: search engines and the search terms used to find us, as well as the site that sent you to the Bell via a link.

§ We collect the following information about devices used to access our site:

§ Device type (Smartphone, Computer, Tablet)

§ Operating system (Mac OS, Windows, Android, iOS, BlackBerry, etc.)

§ Web browser (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Mobile Safari, etc.)

§ Screen colors (number of colors your device displays)

§ Screen resolution

§ Flash version and support

§ Java version and support

§ General geographic location by IP address (so we can look at the number of views by town, state and country).

§ Internet Service Provider or mobile carrier

§ Network hostname

§ Connection speed

§ This data collected is for internal use only and is never sold or shared with third parties.

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