Opinions Policy

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The Daily Gazette’s Opinions and Letters to the Editor sections are meant to be places where students can freely and civilly share their thoughts and ideas about life at Swarthmore College and in the wider world. While the section is intended to serve as a neutral space for writers from all sides of the political spectrum, The Daily Gazette is implementing new policies to ensure that the manner in which these ideas are articulated is respectful and productive.

Below, we have listed a clear outline of the conditions under which an article will be rejected, our sourcing policies, and our editing process. We hope that this new policy will help you keep us accountable and give us clear standards to ascribe to in order to take most subjective editorial discretion out of our decision-making process.

  1. Op-ed Rejection
    1. An op-ed meets the standards for rejection if it includes:
      1. Plagiarized material.
      2. Personal attacks on individuals who are not involved in public affairs at or outside the college.
      3. Articles that fail to use heightened sensitivity, as judged by the editors reviewing the article, with regards to any of the protected classes listed in the Swarthmore College Handbook.
      4. Argumentation not based upon objective fact when “fact” can be indisputably proven.
      5. Poor argumentation as judged by the editorial staff.
      6. An argument that is overrepresented in The Daily Gazette.
      7. Violations of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, including, but not limited to,
        1. Failure to verify information or clearly identify sources prior to publication.
        2. Presence of stereotypes about a group or groups of people.
        3. Deliberate distortion of facts or context.
        4. Failure to disclose conflicts of interest.
    2. An op-ed will not be published if it is deemed to include any of the standards listed above.
    3. If an editor decides that an op-ed meets the standards listed above, they will generally work with the author to resolve the issues that make the op-ed unpublishable, but editors have no obligation to begin the editing process.
    4. Even if an op-ed is deemed to not meet the standards for rejection above, The Daily Gazette still reserves the right to reject it so long as the Editorial Board does so for reasons unrelated to the ideology espoused in the op-ed.
  2.  Op-Ed Sourcing Policy
    1. When considering the authorship of op-eds and letters to the editor, The Daily Gazette is committed to ensuring a diversity of voices and opinions within the Opinions and Letters to the Editor sections. To this end, The Daily Gazette believes it is important to:
      1. Provide an equal platform for all students.
      2. Reach out to marginalized communities, including, but not limited to, women, genderqueer folks, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, for op-eds.
      3. Look for students who don’t routinely write for The Daily Gazette or aren’t routinely quoted for their perspective on campus and world issues.
      4. Include a range of backgrounds, life experiences, and opinions on the Editorial Board.
    2. Requests for anonymity in authorship of op-eds and letters to the editor are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
      1. Anonymous authorship is generally not permitted except in extraordinary circumstances.
      2. If an author does request confidentiality, such a request may only be granted when the author has a strong reason to be kept anonymous.
        1. This is usually means that retaliation and/or harm may become of the author if they are named (e.g., an undocumented student being named as the author of an op-ed).
      3. Even if an author does have a strong reason for confidentiality, The Daily Gazette still reserves the right to refuse to publish an anonymous op-ed.
      4. If an author is granted confidentiality, at least one editor has an obligation to know the identity of the author.
  3. Sourcing, Quoting, and Attributing
    1. This section outlines policies regarding sources used in the Opinions section, and aligns with the policies of the News section.
    2. Anonymous sources are generally not permitted except in extraordinary circumstances.
      1. Even when confidentiality is granted to sources, at least one editor for a story has an obligation to know the identities of unnamed sources.
        1. In the case that the author cannot disclose the identities of unnamed sources to any editors, information so obtained cannot be published.
    3. The Daily Gazette prefers at least two sources for factual information in stories.
      1. In situations in which there is only one source for a story, the decision to publish the story is dependent on the judgement of the author and the editors reviewing the story.
    4. The Daily Gazette requires that all sources are treated fairly. This means that:
      1. Arguments of quoted sources must be summarized fairly and accurately.
      2. Potentially controversial quotes must be quoted in a complete sentence, preferably a paragraph.
      3. People or groups who are the subjects of a story must be given a reasonable opportunity to respond.
        1. For the News section, the subjects of a story must be reached out to for comment and be given a reasonable amount of time to respond prior to publication.
          1. If a subject declines to comment on a story, this must be included in the story.
        2. For the Opinions section, the subjects of an article must be given the opportunity to respond in the Opinions section.
      4. Ad hominem quotes from unnamed sources will not be published.
      5. Authors must clearly identify themselves as Daily Gazette reporters to sources.
      6. Information must be clearly and truthfully attributed to the source from which it came.
    5. The following are The Daily Gazette’s definitions of various forms of attribution:
      1. On the record
        1. This means a source is willing to be quoted by name.
      2. On background
        1. Information obtained “on background” can be attributed to the position held by the source, but cannot be attributed to the source by name (e.g., “an academic dean”, not “Dean John Doe”).
      3. Deep background
        1. Information accepted on “deep background” can be included in a story, but cannot be attributed. This form of attribution is discouraged.
      4. Off the record
        1. Information collected “off the record” cannot be included in a story whatsoever, but can be used for further reporting and investigation.
      5. Sources cannot change the form of attribution for a quote after the fact.
    6. Quotes should be verified for accuracy by the source prior to publication.
      1. If a source disputes the veracity of a quote in a story, in the absence of independent corroborating material (e.g., an audio recording, an email, multiple corroborators, etc.), the quote will not be published.
  4. The Editing Process
    1. All op-eds must be reviewed by at least two Opinions editors and two members of the Upper Editorial Board (Editor-in-Chief/Managing Editor) other than the author before publishing, except in a situation when the publishing of an article is time-sensitive and deemed uncontroversial by the Opinions Editors and the Upper Editorial Board.
      1. In the case in which the article cannot be reviewed by all four editors, another member(s) of the Editorial Board will be asked to review the piece with the approval of the Opinions editors and the Upper Editorial Board.
      2. Upper Editorial Board members are prohibited from publishing op-eds in The Daily Gazette.
    2. Editors will make suggestions based on the argumentative content of an article, though they will never change the content of an article without the author’s permission.
    3. We reserve the right to make changes in grammar and style, though editors will generally ask before making changes of this nature.

The Daily Gazette

The Daily Gazette is Swarthmore’s daily newspaper. The Gazette is sent out every work-day to more than 2,500 people, and has thousands of readers from across the world. The Daily Gazette was organized during Fall semester 1996 by Sam Schulhofer-Wohl ’98. The goal: to provide timely coverage of campus news and Garnet sports while maintaining complete independence from the administration and student government.

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