West Side Story

  • Student Senate's Read to Lead Book Drive is open March 19-30.

  • Donate blood for the blood drive on March 21-22.

  • The Great Midwestern Novice & JV Debate Championships take place March 23-25.

West Side Story Editorial Policy

The goals of West Side Story are to inform, entertain and educate its readers; to provide a forum for the Iowa City community to express attitudes and opinions; to provide an educational opportunity for both the students who produce West Side Story and those who read it; and to provide a medium for commercial messages.

West Side Story receives some ICCSD funds, though it receives income through the sale of advertising and subscription sales, as well. See wsspaper.com/ads for specific pricing and current publication dates.

The newspaper is published six times per year, approximately once every five weeks beginning in September. It is distributed to students and faculty free of charge, with a limit of five copies per issue. Possession of more than five copies of this publication with intent to prevent other individuals from reading an edition is not allowed. Subscriptions are available for $20 per year and are mailed to subscribers. West Side Story also participates in exchange programs with numerous schools throughout the nation. Extra copies of the newspaper are distributed to the general public through numerous local supportive businesses and our feeder schools.

The West Side Story Editorial Board retains the right to choose all content and to determine story priority. This Board is made up of staff members, including but not limited to – editors-in-chief, managing editors, opinion editor, design editor, copy editor, news editor, sports editor, feature editor and business editor – with the adviser a non-voting member of the Board. This Board also oversees various production operations.

Work on West Side Story staffs is not limited strictly to members of the News or Broadcast Lab classes, though anyone serious about staff membership must at least complete Foundations of Newspaper or demonstrate advanced talent in art, photography or web programming.

All material – writing (other than editorials), photography (other than mugshots), or art – appearing in the newspaper or online will receive credit, with the method of credit being at the discretion of the editorial board.

The Editorial Board will select editorial topics. These editorials will not be signed by the writer, but will reflect the opinion of the majority of the Editorial Board. The Board takes full responsibility for all editorials.

Commentaries and columns, on the other hand, will be signed and reflect the views of the writer alone. They are not the official position of West Side Story. Editorial cartoons fall into the same category as commentaries.

Any person with an interest in the Iowa City community who has an opinion to be voiced is encouraged to submit letters to the editor. All letters must be signed. Letters may be submitted to rooms 111 or 109, mailed to West High School, care of West Side Story or e-mailed to the publication at westsidestorypaper@gmail.com. All signatures will be verified by the Opinion Editor. Letters should be fewer than 300 words in length. If excessive editing is needed, the letter will be returned to the author for corrections. It is preferred that letters be typed, although handwritten copies will be accepted, if legible. West Side Story reserves the right to edit any letter for grammatical errors, libelous content or space limitations. Staff responses to letters to the editor are not allowed.

West Side Story will strive to present information in a fair, impartial, accurate and truthful manner. The newspaper will function in accord with all applicable laws, both in regards to the rights and restrictions of journalism. The National Scholastic Press Association’s Model Code of Ethics for High School Journalists and The Statement of Principles of the American Society of Newspaper Editors serve as the basis for the publication’s ethical standards. The basis for the publication’s legal positions include the Iowa Student Free Expression Law. West Side Story reserves the right to refuse any advertising not found to be within the publication’s standards, particularly in reference to good taste and to product and/or services that are illegal for the majority of high school readers.

In the event of error (omission, misidentification, etc.) the Editorial Board will attempt to mitigate the damage. Every reasonable precaution is made in avoiding errors, but some amount of error is perhaps inevitable. Each case will be evaluated on its own merit.

Reporting on student, faculty and community deaths can be sensitive, and the Editorial Board will confine its coverage to the beginning of the news section and, possibly, the opinion section. The primary purpose of the obituary is to profile the life of the deceased individual through interviewing friends, family and teachers of the deceased individual. Photographs may be used with permission from the family. West Side Story will attempt to cover deaths of students, faculty, school staff and West High graduates from the previous school year. West Side Story will strive to give equal attention to all deaths.

As members of a student newspaper, reporters and editors may find themselves aware of violations of the law committed by students which do not involve authorities. However, only crimes and transgressions that result in official charges will be reported in West Side Story. It is not the Editorial Board’s goal to embarrass any member of the West High community, but that discretion must be balanced with the Board’s responsibility to dispel rumors, report the facts and provide perspective on the community.

The Editorial Board will regularly survey the student body on topical matters and must sign off on all surveys before distribution. These surveys will always be conducted through a random selection and will strive to include a random sampling of all four grades. A minimum of 310 students will be surveyed, resulting in an error rate of plus or minus five percent. 

Reporters for West Side Story will always identify themselves as functioning in that capacity before any interview or survey. It is not our intention to catch people in embarrassing or misleading quotations. The editors reserve the right to correct gross grammatical errors in quotations, if the source’s meaning will be distorted without such editing. Otherwise, quotations will be reported as stated by informed sources. There is one exception to this policy, and that is in the case of undercover reporting. This happens rarely, and only after considerable discussion within the Editorial Board. The Board recognizes that some stories cannot be adequately reported when sources are fully warned of the potential of publication. The authorities may be consulted prior to any undercover operation, and students will not be asked to break the law in pursuit of a story.

Sources will not be allowed to read the final text of any story to be published in West Side Story prior to publication. Reporters may read back quotations to sources, and will follow up with sources who wish to supplement their initial interviews. The Editorial Board will consider the relative experience of the source in dealing with the press in each case.

Sources may wish to have their names withheld from a particular story, and some may have valid reasons for this. The Editorial Board will decide on a case by case basis whether anonymity may be granted to protect the source. The Board recognizes that a high school is a very confined community of young people, and that some topics, while important to the community, may involve public embarrassment and official sanctions if names are printed. Once anonymity is granted, the Board must stand behind its decision, whatever the pressure. This, therefore, is a weighty decision. Furthermore, we recognize that some sources may have preferred pronouns other than the ones assigned to them. Although WSS reporters will not ask sources for their preferred pronouns, we encourage sources to inform reporters of preferred pronouns during the interview process.

West Side Story would like to acknowledge Jack Kennedy and The Rock’s editorial policy, from which this one is derived.


The student news site of West High School
West Side Story Editorial Policy