The Student News Site of West Albany High School


The Student News Site of West Albany High School


The Student News Site of West Albany High School


Staff Policies


THE WHIRLWIND is a dedicated student forum. Content and editorial decisions are made by student staff members exercising their rights as protected by the First Amendment and the Oregon Student Free Expression Law (Ore. Rev. Stat. sec. 336.477 (2007)). Opinions are those of The Whirlwind staff and not West Albany High School or the Greater Albany Public School District.

Journalistic Integrity


According to Oregon Student Free Expression Law, “Student journalists have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media, whether or not the media are supported financially by the school or by use of school facilities or are produced in conjunction with a high school class.” Censorship of student produced content is not permitted except expression that is: (a) libelous or slanderous; (b) constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy; (c) violates the law or legal rules and regulations; or (d) incites students to create a clear or present danger of unlawful acts, violation of school policy, or “material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.” The Whirlwind adviser is responsible for teaching professional standards of English and journalism, but is not considered a member of The Whirlwind staff.


The Whirlwind strives for accuracy and will correct all errors. Corrections can be submitted to [email protected] and will appear in the print magazine or at the top of the online story in which it appeared. The writer of a story that contains an error is responsible for creating a comprehensive correction, which may require conducting additional interviews.


Given that the excessive use of anonymous sources can be detrimental to the credibility of the publication, names will be withheld only if: 1) an imminent threat would occur to a subject due to the publication of that subject’s name; 2) the story in which the anonymous source will be used is sufficiently newsworthy and has significance to the audience, and it would otherwise go unreported; 3) there is a clear request for an off-the-record publication, and their view or fact was not already publicly declared. Reporters using anonymous sources are expected not to use their source’s name in journalistic materials and not reveal who their sources are even if pressured to do so. Additional, named sources should be used in all stories that include anonymous sources.

Conflict of Interest

While staff members do participate in outside activities, they are prohibited from reporting on their own activities. If it is of significant value to the community, stories may be published which feature Whirlwind Staff, including their photos. However, these cases are rare and should be discussed by editors beforehand. Close relations or friends of a Whirlwind staff member may not be used as sources by that staff member.

Code of Ethics

Staff members will adhere to the Society for Professional Journalists Code of Ethics and professional standards. Fabrication of interviews or stories will lead to immediate dismissal from staff. Staff members are expected to exercise good judgement and make ethical decisions.

Coverage and Content

Equal Coverage

As a news source of and for all of West Albany, The Whirlwind will provide fair and equitable coverage of the entire school community, dedicating equal space and effort to covering all grades, races, genders, and other divisions in our multifaceted school. Writers must use at least three interviewed sources in each story they write, unless it clearly does not make sense to do so. It is the responsibility of the staff to periodically audit to ensure coverage meets these goals.


As the student paper of West Albany, The Whirlwind will focus on stories that are timely, local and most relevant to the West Albany community specifically. While The Whirlwind may write about about events important to the nation and world at large, they are of a secondary importance to The Whirlwind, and will be featured through a local lens.

Prior Review

To ensure the credibility of a story and prevent outside influence, Whirlwind stories remain confidential until publication and may not be discussed with any outside member unless approved by Editorial Board decision, to permit selective viewing with strong justification. A reporter can, however, and should check his or her quotations with a source prior to publication.

Death on Campus

As a part of the press, The Whirlwind has a responsibility to cover all events noteworthy to its readership base. As such, The Whirlwind will cover the deaths of all current West Albany students or faculty within one month of their official death announcement in a 300-400 word obituary. While The Whirlwind will be sensitive to the circumstances of death and wishes of family, obituaries will be written with similar journalistic requirements and integrity to other news stories. The Whirlwind will not announce the death of any person.


The Whirlwind accepts paid advertisement for its print and online publications. The staff reserves the right to reject advertisements on the basis of content or space availability, unless required by law.

Letters to the Editor

Any student, staff member, or community member is invited to submit a letter to the editor regarding issues covered by The Whirlwind. Letters should be submitted electronically to [email protected] or printed and dropped off in the adviser’s box near the main office. Unsigned letters to the editor will not be published. Letters may be edited for length or clarity, and will be checked for factual accuracy.


Individual staff members may be assigned the position of staff columnist, in which they will write regular columns focused on their perspective or unique personal experiences. Columns are expected to tie in a larger idea or message that applies to a wide audience.

Expectations by Section


The news section will cover news within the school, district, community and throughout the world or nation as it applies to the WAHS audience. Newswriters are expected to interview all key stakeholders and represent all sides of a given story.


Sports staff will make reasonable effort to cover all sports equitably. Male and female sports will receive equal coverage when possible. Sportswriters will be assigned to cover a sport throughout the season and are expected to provide pre-season, season, and post-season as well as feature coverage for the sport they are assigned. Effort will be made to include a variety of sources, including coaches, when possible.


Stories covered in the Entertainment section will include the fine arts, music, movies, dance, theater, video games, social media trends, fashion, lifestyle, and other topics not covered in news and sports. Writers in the Entertainment section will produce timely, localized features, analytical stories, and commentary.


Staff Editorials are unsigned editorials that represent the position of The Whirlwind Editorial Board. Staff members assigned to write a staff editorial will conduct a meeting with representatives of The Whirlwind Editorial Board in preparation for writing the editorial. Staff members are expected to keep the name of the staff editorial writer(s) confidential. All opinion articles are expected to balance fact and opinion and should clearly apply to the local audience. All opinion articles that are not considered staff editorials will be bylined.

Staff Expectations

Content Production

All staff members, with the exception of section editors, will work within three sections over the course of the year, rotating around the end of each sports season. Effort will be made to honor staff members’ requests to work within a specific section, though even distribution of staff is the highest priority. Staff members, including all editors, are expected to create three content items per cycle, which will typically include one print and two online stories, plus other work as assigned.


The success of The Whirlwind is dependent upon individual staff members meeting their obligations and upholding their responsibilities, including meeting deadlines. If a staff member cannot meet a deadline for a legitimate reason, the staff member is expected to seek an approved deadline extension. Regular inability to meet deadlines will have negative consequences, including: grade reduction, probation, and removal from staff.

Production Nights

Production nights are regularly scheduled to allow the time needed to complete work on the print magazine. Work nights begin after school on designated days and continue until 9 p.m. Staff members are permitted to leave as needed but are expected to communicate their needs to their section and head editors. Non-staff members are not permitted to attend late nights except in rare circumstances that should be pre-approved by the adviser. Attendance at late nights is expected until the staff member’s work is complete.

Production Schedule

Online stories will be planned on a weekly basis, and the print magazine will be produced six times per year (approximately every 4-5 weeks). Staff members will complete portfolios with self-assessments for grading at the end of each production cycle.

Recording and Notes

Reporters are encouraged to record interviews with sources. Permission to record must be secured before beginning the interview. Reporters are expected to turn off recording devices when given off-the-record information, as specified by the interviewee. Even when recording, reporters are expected to take notes and are required to keep their notes for one year after work is published. Reporters should not give their notes to anyone else, regardless of who they are.

Respect in class

Staff members are expected to treat each other with respect in and out of class. Discussions of story ideas and stories in progress are expected to be kept confidential and should not be shared with individuals who are not members of The Whirlwind. Disrespectful behavior may lead to discipline or removal from staff.


Camera, audio, video or other technological equipment will be checked out to staff members through the adviser or photo editor(s) only after a signed equipment loan agreement form has been submitted to the adviser. Staff members are liable for all equipment while it is in their possession. Equipment should be returned immediately after use and should not be kept in unsafe locations, such as a personal car or school locker. Staff members will be held financially responsible for lost equipment.

Press Pass

Every reporter on The Whirlwind will be provided with a press pass. This will identify them as a working member of the press in the United States, and they are expected to carry it as identification, particularly at events where identification is required. Abuse of the privileges associated with a press pass will lead to disciplinary action.


The Whirlwind is primarily funded through the sale of advertisements, subscriptions and sponsorships. As such, individual staff members are expected to raise $300 toward the cost of production. All funds will be deposited to The Whirlwind account through the WAHS ASB office. Staff members who make a good faith effort to raise their contribution but are unable to meet the minimum will have the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of business and journalism through an alternative assignment.

Failure to Meet Staff Obligations

Staff members who fail to meet minimum standards will be informed of the issues with their performance in an individual meeting with head editors and/or the adviser. Lack of improvement will lead to probationary status and an official notification of such. Continued failure to improve may lead to removal from staff.

Press Law and Ethics


Violation of laws or school rules is not condoned by The Whirlwind. It is prohibited for any staff member to violate the law in the process of reporting. Staff members who violate laws or school rules will be held accountable for their actions.

Copyright / Fair Use

Photos and art created by a staff member, excluding simple headshots and small graphics, will be credited and belong to the staff member who took the photo or created the artwork. While the author/photographer does own their work under copyright law, by participating on The Whirlwind staff, the staff member permits The Whirlwind to publish the work within the year(s) the staff member is on staff and the years following.


The Whirlwind will avoid publishing profanity unless the profanity itself is integral to the understanding of the story. Profanity will otherwise be excluded from print and online publications.


Student reporters are expected to conduct in-person interviews with sources. Exceptions can be made to interview sources otherwise unavailable due to time or distance. In those cases, virtual video conferencing is preferable to phone interviews. Text and email interviews are not permitted.

Internet Use

Internet research is an essential part of journalism, however staff members are expected to use the internet only as a supplemental source beyond in-person interviews. All information found on the internet will be vetted for factual accuracy and sources will be checked for credibility. The source of any information a reporter includes from internet research will be clearly identified.

Social Media

The Whirlwind uses social media as an extension of its publication to instantly alert its readership of noteworthy events as they occur and to advertise longform stories, not for personalized use or editorialized promotion. Social media posts may be published by any member of the staff, subject to editing by the social media editor. Specific use of platforms and accounts will be regulated at the discretion of the Editorial Board.


Editorial board

The Whirlwind Editorial Board will be made up of Editor(s) in Chief, Managing Editor(s), and a representative from each section. Decisions will be made by vote and determined by a simple majority. In the event of a tie, decisions will be made by the Editor(s) in Chief.

Formation of Staff

The outgoing Editor(s) in Chief and Managing Editor(s) will select the subsequent year’s staff and editors in tandem with the advisor. Editors will apply and interview.

Modification of Staff Policies

Staff policies may be modified by a simple majority of the Editorial Board. In the event of a tie, the decision to modify will be made by the Editor(s) in Chief. Staff policies will be reviewed prior to the start of each school year by the Editor(s) in Chief and Managing Editor(s).

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Staff Policies