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McIntosh Trail - The Student News Site of McIntosh High School

Don't Miss a Minute of McIntosh.

McIntosh Trail - The Student News Site of McIntosh High School

Don't Miss a Minute of McIntosh.

McIntosh Trail - The Student News Site of McIntosh High School

McIntosh Student Media Policy Manual

updated October 2022

“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….”
-The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America
“The vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools.”
-Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

The MHS Media Editorial Policy pertains to the Legend yearbook; the website,; the print editions of the McIntosh Trail and the podcasts of MSM Podcasting. The full editorial policy is available on

McIntosh Student Media (MSM) are the official student-produced media of news and information published/produced by MHS journalism students. McIntosh Student Media have been established as designated public forums for student expression. The mission of the publications of MSM is to inform and educate their readers as well as for the discussion of issues of concern to their audience. It will not be reviewed or restrained by school officials prior to publication or distribution. The adviser coaches and discusses content during the writing process.
Over the course of its continued publication, the journalism programs operate without interference from school officials in practice, and the content of MSM is determined by and reflects only the views of the student staff and not school officials or the school itself, its student editorial board and responsible student staff members assume complete legal and financial liability for the content of the publication.

As it is essential to preserve the freedom of the press in order to preserve a free society,
McIntosh Student Media will serve the interests of the students and faculty of McIntosh High School, keeping itself free from any commercial obligations distracting from this purpose; this is defined by the media itself;
Any decisions affecting the publications will be made by the editorial board, the adviser is allowed to give legal advice and their 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 media editorial policy from being printed;
All media will vigorously resist all attempts at censorship, particularly pre-publication censorship;
All media retain 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;
All student media referenced in this editorial policy are designated public forums;
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 newsgathering and research needs;
McIntosh Student Media 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;
McIntosh Student Media 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;
Definitions and examples for the above instances of unprotected speech can be found in Law of the Student Press published by the Student Press Law Center.

The editorial board will consist of all student staff editors.
The editorial board decides on all decisions that pertain directly to McIntosh Student Media and their interests.
No member of the editorial board shall have more than one vote on the board.
All members of the editorial board and the adviser will elect a replacement for board members who have been dismissed.
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.

The adviser is a professional teaching staff member and is in charge of the class just as in a conventional classroom situation.
Is a Certified Journalism Educator 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 media and ensuring the media will remain an open forum.
Guides the 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 on journalism and share these with students.
Will submit the school newspaper, yearbook, podcast, 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.

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


All content decisions will be made in occurrence to the following provisions, while keeping in mind that the overall purpose, role and goal of all MHS Media is to
Inform, interpret, and entertain their readers, viewers and listeners 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;
Cover the total school population as effectively and accurately as possible;
The staff of MHS Media 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 media 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.

All writing in the media, other than letters to the editor, will be written by students of the journalism program and will not be accepted otherwise.
MHS students outside of the media staff will have the opportunity to submit writing to the media.
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 EIC and adviser for verification.
Any material submitted from an outside source can be edited by the editorial board and must comply to this policy.
Writing must be the original work of the writer and not previously published any publication, unless otherwise specified by the adviser and EIC.

All editorials printed will be bylined as: “on behalf of Editorial Staff.”
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 media will not publish any material for which there is evidence that the author is using the paper for inappropriate personal gain.
The media 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.

All coverage of controversial issues will occur in a timely manner..
All sides of the issue will be presented and reviewed so as to refrain from any bias, with exception of opinions.
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.
The media will not publish material that is unnecessarily obscene, libelous, or invasive of privacy.
If question on 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 the publication?
What is our logical explanation to anyone who challenges an 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.

The media will specialize in and emphasize on informing their readers of school news and unique students of the McIntosh High School community.
The media will cover community, state, national, and international news if it is directly relevant to the school community and includes a local angle.
The media 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).

The school media will treat all deaths in a tasteful, respectful way.
Any current student, staff member, faculty member or building administrator that dies during the year will be recognized in the school media.
The Trail 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 McIntosh Trail and
The Legend will publish only the student or staff member’s name, date of birth and date of death, and one 1” x 2” mug shot (if possible) in a 1/2 page space at no charge.
The Legend’s full obituary can be found here.
Longform/Related Stories
The school media 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.

Any current student, staff member, faculty member, or building administrator that dies during the year will be recognized in the school yearbook.
The school yearbook will publish only the student or staff member’s name, date of birth and date of death, and one 1” x 2” mug shot (if possible) in a 1/2 page space at no charge.

All cutlines 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 MHS.
The publications 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 school media may be submitted through the adviser The phone number to MHS is 770-631-2020, email is [email protected].
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 school media 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 or social media post once a story has been posted, the change will be noted along with the date and time the change was made.

The student editorial board, in keeping with Yeo v. Town of Lexington, make all decisions as to the determination of what advertisements will be published, keeping the adviser, the administration, and the school board safe from potential violation of First Amendment claims.
Advertising that appears in the media is not necessarily endorsed by the media or its staff members, editorial board or adviser, McIntosh High School, or the Fayette County Board of Education.
All ads need to be approved by the editorial board and any ad not deemed appropriate by the editorial board according to policy may not run.
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 run advertising without a proper signature on the advertising contract which explains terms of payment, content, size, publishing dates, includes attached layout which explains the terms of payment, content, size.
The publications will not accept personal or classified advertising.
The publications will cease to publish advertising of any advertiser that does not meet payment obligations specified in school contact.
If a published advertisement is incorrect in substantive content, a reduced price or corrected run will be negotiated.
If $200 is spent on print advertising, a complimentary online ad is given to the advertiser.
Web ads appear in a specified section of the website and randomly rotate through the area each time the page is refreshed.

Letters to the editor will be printed in the opinion section of the newspaper or on the website.
Guidelines to write letters to the editor will be printed in every issue in the opinion section of the paper and available online at
Letters to the editor may be submitted to Ms. Woolf ’s mailbox, room 125 or emailed at this address: [email protected].
Letters to editor should not exceed 300 words, must be signed and must include the writer’s address and 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 MHS Media 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.
MHS Media will only publish one letter, per author, per issue.
All physical letters to the editor become the property of the school newspaper upon receipt and will not be returned to the author.
Letters submitted via email 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.
Online comments that are found in violation of the editorial policy will be removed as quickly as possible.
Personal attacks are not allowed.
It is the editors’ responsibility to monitor the comments for content that is against guidelines.

The reviewer must have experience in the area in which they are reviewing. A book, movie, album, restaurant, etc. review should have been read, watched, or experienced before writing the review.
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.
Evaluative criteria used will be determined by the editorial board depending on whether the event or item being reviewed is professional or amateur in nature.
Review ideas may be submitted to the editorial board by all members of the MHS media.
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.

Social media will be used to promote MHS media, to promote published content and to engage the MHS 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 school media 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 MHS Media marketing is to promote and expand the viewing audience.
Managing editors will work with all aspects of the media.
Contests are run by the staff and regulated by the managing editors and editors-in-chief.
Every contest must have its own set of rules which will be posted in a place visible to the student body and contest participants.
All contest rules will be posted online on either or
All contest rules are to be tailored and agreed upon by the editorial board before the start of the contest.
Members of media staffs will not be allowed to enter or win contests put on by MHS Media.
Managing editors will work to attend all major events held by the school with the intent of promotion (examples: Homecoming, parades, etc.)
Managing editors will promote the publications through outside sources such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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 reporter’s completed story and then perform editing tasks on that story.
The media reporters will endeavor to include the name and identity of all sources if the 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 media reporters will not, within all boundaries of law, reveal a source who asks to remain nameless.
All MHS Media 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.
MHS Media 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 they make or direct changes.

All students and staff of McIntosh High School are eligible for publication in the MHS student media.
Any student or staff member wishing to ‘opt out’ of being published in the student media needs to fill out the appropriate ‘opt out’ form with the guidance office and alert the student media adviser of plans to ‘opt out.’
All efforts will be made to keep students and staff who have ‘opted out’ of coverage from publication in the MHS Media


Editor-in-chief(s) and other editor level positions are chosen by the adviser, with input from the previous year’s editorial board.
New staff are judged by application, previous work, potential and perquisite class work.
Applicants are not turned down because of age, race, sex, religion, mental or physical handicap that do not impair editorial responsibilities.
Staff applications are due in February of each year prior to registration.
The staff and editors are selected prior to the end of the school year. The adviser reserves the right to make changes to the list as they deems necessary after the registration deadline.
Editor titles and positions are not named until after all media have finalized publication for the previous year.

The academic nature of the school newspaper class does not allow for removal from staff. All individuals involved with MHS media are considered a team and each member is expected to complete all assigned stories, pages, photos, etc. on or before the assigned deadline. Staff members, including editors, may earn class and/or school concequences if any of following violations occur:

    • continuously missed deadlines (dismissal procedures will take place by choice of adviser and EICs)
    • Plagiarism
    • Quote falsification
    • Vandalism or theft of publication equipment
    • Submitting the work of another
    • Continuous negative or pessimistic attitude toward staff member or adviser
    • Submitting an advanced page design, story, photo or other publishable item to anyone outside the media staff without approval by the editorial board
    • Failing to fulfill job as outlined in job description

Warnings will be issued by the adviser and editor-in-chiefs.
The above list infractions could all result in consequences however, staff dismissals are not limited to the listed infractions.
A staff member receiving academic credit may be given a grade of F and if so, will not be allowed to -reregister for any other journalism courses (will not preempt school policy).

Questions or complaints concerning material published in the media should be made in writing to the editor in chief(s) who will present the concern at the next scheduled editorial board meeting.
Complaints and suggestions may be emailed to [email protected] or dropped off in room 125.

McIntosh Student Media should be a member of state, regional, national, and/or international organizations.
McIntosh Student Media will work to be in contact with professional media as well as other individuals and companies in the communications field ranging from photography to public relations and advertising to promotions and copywriting.

Print editions of the McIntosh Trail will be distributed free of charge to all students according to a distribution schedule approved by the adviser and editors and budgetary constraints of the student population.
Current copies of the print newspaper will also be displayed in the library, main office and guidance office.
The Legend yearbook will operate within its yearly budget, agreed upon by the adviser and the yearbook company representative.
The Legend yearbook will contract between 850-1050 copies of the yearbook based on three-years of purchase data.
The Legend yearbook will only pre-sell copies and no extras will be purchased to sell in order to keep the yearbook program from having to pay for unsold copies.
The Legend yearbook’s major deadlines are set by the yearbook publishing company, however, smaller in-house deadlines are set by the adviser.
The Legend yearbook will be distributed to the student body in May, unless mitigating circumstances by the yearbook publishing company prevent that from happening.
Advertising revenues and fundraising are to be used to pay for the school media printing costs, cameras, lenses, supplies and other media expenses, such as printer ink, press passes, teambuilding activities, etc.
All budget surpluses are to be used for future production of the school media programs.
Exchange publications are received and displayed in the journalism laboratory.
Exchange publications are mailed to other media rooms across the US.

Senior portraits must be taken by the company specified by McIntosh High School.
All senior portraits must arrive to the yearbook staff by October 30 of each year.
Any senior who fails to get their yearbook portrait taken by the senior photographer will not be pictured in the yearbook senior section but will have their names listed with their class.
Seniors reserve the right to choose from the prop clothing (tux, drape, cap and gown) provided by the photography company to wear in their portrait.
Senior portraits that contain hand gestures will not be published.
Senior portraits will consist of one individual only. No other persons or props (flags, etc.) are permitted with the exception of sporting equipment.
Portraits provided by the school photographer will be used for students in grades 9-12 and for the faculty members. One make-up day will be scheduled. Because of plant deadlines and the possibility of students missing portrait day, the yearbook staff is not responsible for unavailable portraits of students.
Underclass students and faculty who did not have a picture made will have their names listed in the appropriate section.
The section/grade placement of student portraits will be determined by the student’s first semester status.
Grade designations will only be changed if MHS guidance counselors let the adviser know.
Editorial board reserves the right to review or omit questionable or inappropriate portraits and ask for a replacement.
Student names in all portrait sections will appear as supplied by the student.
The Legend yearbook will post all senior portraits and underclass portraits for one full week for students to self-check that their portrait is included, that the name is correct and in the case of seniors, that the correct portraits are included. Announcements will be made asking students to verify their information.

Any groups with school sponsors are eligible to take a group photo for the yearbook.
Yearbook will cover school-sponsored, board-approved, and established clubs/sports. All other sports or clubs will be reviewed by the editorial board.
The Editorial Board reserves the right to review or omit questionable or inappropriate portraits.
Portraits will consist of group members and sponsors only. Props are not permitted without prior approval.
Face painting in group portraits is not permitted.

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