Code of Ethics

Mission Statement
The Almanian is a newspaper and website published not only for the students at this institution, not just for the faculty on campus and not solely for the administrators who work for Alma, but for all people interested in Alma College and the lives it touches. As a student newspaper, however, The Almanian will most often focus on the issues, ideas and activities of Alma College students. The writers, editors, publishers and distributors of this newspaper and website are dedicated to producing interesting, engaging, accurate, timely and error-free news and information on a weekly basis in order to serve, inform and educate the people for whom it is intended.

Code of Ethics
This code provides those who work on The Almanian with guidelines and rules in how they should conduct themselves on behalf of the organization. This tool is also how those within and outside of The Almanian can uphold the news source to standards of journalistic integrity. Our staff fashioned the Code of Ethics with guidance from the Associated Collegiate Press. Comments, questions and suggestions regarding our code and any other Almanian matters can be made via email to or in person to the Editor-in-Chief of The Almanian.

To avoid being unfairly influenced in The Almanian’s coverage, staff should not accept any gifts unless:
A staff member is allowed free entrance to a game, concert, event, etc. to report on it or photograph it
A staff member is traveling for free with a team or group to cover an off-campus game, concert or event
The gift is of insignificant value (under $5) such as a pen or a cup of coffee and would be readily offered to others
Any substantial gifts should be refused or returned.

Conflicts of Interest
On a small campus like Alma, it is anticipated that students will be involved with multiple organizations, jobs, clubs, etc. This is acceptable, so long as the rest of the staff is aware of what those commitments are. Each staff member with multiple commitments should develop a personal Code of Ethics on how they will balance their responsibilities while upholding journalistic integrity. Staff members should not report on a group they are involved with. No employee may work for The Almanian while holding a public relations position for the school.

Social Media

The Almanian’s social media accounts shall comply with this Code of Ethics and are not for the personal use of staff.
The Almanian reserves the right to remove any comments made on social media for any reason. Hate speech will not be tolerated.
Staff members are expected to follow the Code of Ethics and conduct themselves in a professional manner when they make it clear they are representing The Almanian on social media.
The organization’s staff members, however, are not always representing The Almanian and retain their civil rights and right to their private life.

Other Media Work
The Editor-in-Chief should be notified if a staff member is producing media for another organization such as The Odyssey. This is acceptable, but staffers may not double dip and reuse an Almanian story for another organization or vica versa.

In gaining interviews, photographs and other content for The Almanian, staffers should avoid relying on their close friends. On a small campus, this is unavoidable at times. Staff members should consider whether reporting on a story or covering a subject is problematic due to their personal ties with those involved.
Romantic relationships and any other circumstances that may affect the ability to work with another member of the staff should be discussed with the Editor-in-Chief in order to avoid issues of favoritism or quarrels among staff.

Diversity and Inclusion
The Almanian is an inclusive organization and does not tolerate harassment or exclusion based on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity or any other identifier. Staff members found to be purposefully spreading hate out of intolerance will be fired. Additional reading on Title IX, legislation on diversity, can be found here:
Identifiers such as race, gender, sexuality and ethnicity should only be included in a story if it is especially relevant to the topic of the story. Employees should also avoid perpetuating negative stereotypes. We have the right to refuse to publish letters to the editor and ads, especially in the case that prejudice language or opinions are expressed in a hateful manner.

Plagiarism is defined by the Associated Collegiate Press Code of Ethics as “the word-for-word duplication of another person’s writing or close summarization of the work of another source without giving the source proper credit.”
Using graphics, art, words, etc. from another source without accreditation will not be tolerated by The Almanian and will result in the termination of the responsible staff member.

All information written for The Almanian should be supported by a reliable interview, document or evidence. Fabrication will result in the termination of the responsible staff member from The Almanian.
Fictional characters may be used if it is clearly part of the style of an Opinion or Feature piece. Alternative names may be used to protect persons in a news story, but it should be made clear that the names are changed for that purpose.

Photos should not be manipulated in a way that takes away from the truthfulness of the original.
Accreditation should make clear whether a photo comes from The Almanian staff or an alternative source.
The Almanian will only use images of violence and sexuality if the related story calls for it. This decision is to be made ultimately by the Editor-in-Chief, Photo Editor and Advisor.
Photos should be accompanied by cutlines that accurately describe what is occurring in the photo and accurately identify the subjects of the photo.

On a small campus, a publication must work diligently to help victims of crime and victim/survivors maintain their privacy as well as those who have been accused of a crime, but have not been convicted. This may be done by leaving names out or creating alternative names, only giving general locations of events and communicating with interviewees about their privacy needs.
In the case of an arrest, names will not be included until charges are filed.

Cooperation with Law and School Officials
Staffers will familiarize themselves with State and National laws as well as Alma’s rules pertaining to journalism and comply with them. They should also be familiar with the rules and laws that protect students and journalists. If a member of the staff feels they have violated any rules or laws or has had a rule or law violated against them, they should go to the Editor-in-Chief immediately. The Editor-in-Chief will work in conjunction with the advisor and with resources such as the Student Press Law Center to resolve the issue.

Vulgarity and Explicit Language
In reporting news stories vulgarity (descriptions of violent or sexual topics) and explicit language (the use of swear words) will be limited to what is necessary in expressing an interviewee’s meaning or the story’s events. Opinion editors may use explicit language sparingly, but should only use vulgar language in describing someone’s actions and should do so in a responsible manner. A trigger warning at the head of the article may be called for. These decisions should be made between the Editor-in-Chief, the advisor and the reporter.

Obtaining Information

Michigan law is unclear about whether or not it is legal to record conversations that you take part in, whether or not the other party has given consent ( Employees of The Almanian should obtain consent from interviewees before recording conversation, but should emphasize that a recording aids in the accuracy of documenting and interview. Michigan law allows the recording of public events, so reporters may record campus events without outside permission.
Reporters may not use information given to them that appears to have been stolen. Information published should be supported by the consistency of an interviewee’s story, other interviews and any timelines, documents and media that can back the interviewees’ statements.
Once an interview begins, all information shared within it is “on the record” and free for use by the journalist in a story. The interviewee legally has no right to state that select pieces are “off the record” in an interview. Still, a journalist for The Almanian may not use information that was shared with them outside of an interview or communication that was established as being for journalistic purposes without permission of the provider. It is the responsibility of the interviewee not to share any information they wouldn’t want included in a story.

Anonymity and Confidentiality
Anonymity and confidentiality shall not be offered, but be granted only sparingly and with the permission of the Editor-in-Chief. Anonymous sources are less credible to readers, so that confidentiality should only be granted if naming them presents danger to the source. If necessary, a conversation should take place about the different levels of anonymity that could be granted (only being referred to as a fake name or as a member of a certain organization, for example). Almanian employees should make every effort to find a different source that does not require anonymity and can relay the same information.

No Response
Employees of The Almanian should make repeated efforts throughout the week if a potential source does not get back to them within 24 hours. Initial contact should be attempted after the Tuesday night distribution meeting. If no response comes by the Friday night deadline, it may be published that the person “declined” to be interviewed or “would not respond.” If a potential source responds, but is truly unable to give an interview that week, it can be said that they were “unavailable” for an interview.

Sources on the Internet

Information may be obtained from the internet in reporting, but the source website should be reliable and the content should be backed by multiple websites or other evidence.

If The Almanian is made aware that a piece of published information is incorrect and the person who points out the error can provide some proof, a correction should be made as soon as possible. This will be done by a statement on the Facebook page and by fixing the error in the online version of the article.

Reporting vs. Commentary
Reporters should not include any personal opinion or commentary in their news articles. Descriptive words and opinions should only be included in an article if it is attributed to an outside source. In recording quotes, the word “said” should always be used rather than “cried, complained, yelled,” etc. This prevents connotations that may stem from creeping opinion.

Political Affiliation
The Almanian is a nonpartisan organization and should not allow political bias in news reporting. A variety of political opinions, including those outside of the two primary parties, should be included when relevant to an article. Staff members may write on their own political position for the opinion section and readers are welcome and encouraged to share their own via a letter to the editor.


-Originally Published 10/31/16