“In addition to respecting the input of all staff members, the Daily should strive to make their organization more transparent. Democratic institutions are run in transparent ways based on written rules – that way conflicts can be minimized, and the organization can function independent any individual member. The Indiana Daily Student, one of the nation’s best college newspapers, has a set of bylaws on their website in PDF format clearly demarcating the and regulations and principals that guide the paper. The Daily, in contrast, does everything possible to keep their short, convoluted document a secret. During my time there I know there to be more than one version saved on their poorly organized computer system. This lack of transparency was at the heart of a number of conflicts at the Daily – over selection of editors, what columnists could or couldn’t write, and on what grounds they could be fired. Having well-known rules reduces conflict, and helps all parties focus on the task at hand: publishing a newspaper.”

> Yes, that’s right, the part you’ve all been waiting for is finally up – Part 4 of Inside the Daily: An Agenda for Change!

Here’s a simple exercise: Try to locate the Michigan Daily’s ethics policy on their website. I’ll save you some time: it isn’t there. Also isn’t there is the newspapers poorly written, rarely-used Bylaws, which includes their brief vague rules about ethics. (The link leads to a copy of the Bylaws I was able to obtain last year – if someone at that paper would like to send me a more recent copy of the document – complete with a part added by John Schwartz that enables the editor in chief to fire any staffer – what I like to call the “Rob Goodspeed Clause” – I would be happy to post it.)

Next, compare the Daily’s website to the website of the Indiana Daily Student, which links directly to a comprehensive 7-page ethics policy in PDF. However, I am optimistic: as a news staffer, I complained that the newspaper’s website had NO contact information on it whatsoever for a long time. Last spring, they posted this comprehensive list of emails and phone numbers, a great step in the right direction. I’m also glad the Daily links to a clearly stated privacy policy regarding their email list. Maybe now they’ll dare to post a policy for the things that really matter: the contents of the paper!

Author: Rob