General Assignment Guidelines

  • All information in your articles should be truthful and accurate.
  • Facts are double checked, quotes are word-for-word and not fabricated.
  • Our goal is to report on the community at large, and not just the limited range of our own experience. So unless an assignment specifically allows it, student reporters should not interview friends and family members.
  • Double-space. Either indent or put a space between each paragraph.
  • Usa a simple font. Times New Roman, for example.
  • Your name (byline) should be on everything.
  • Time element: Assume that every assignment you hand in will appear in a news publication the next day or that same day, unless told otherwise. Even if you covered an event three weeks ago, write the story as if it just happened.
  • Strive for clean copy, but if you make a last-minute edit use proper copy-editing symbols.
  • Be prepared to revise an assignment several times before posting it.
  • Identify all your sources clearly on first reference, i.e. Wendy Trammell, vice president of Sage Dining Services and a freelance food critic.
  • Specific names are typically not used in the lead, or headline, unless the person is well known. Identify people in the second paragraph or subhead, when applicable.
  • The word “allegedly” protects you from nothing. Don’t use it. State the facts as you get them from official sources. That is your best protection against libel.
  • Avoid adjectives that read as “editorializing” or opinion,” i.e. don’t call an accident “terrible.” Let the sources speak about an incident, not you.
  • Avoid trite phrases and clichés, such as “rushed to” the hospital. No ambulance with an injured person drives slow.
  • Direct quotes typically get their own paragraphs. Put all punctuation inside the quote marks.
  • Avoid partial sentence quotes, or having to doctor quotes with a lot of [bracket inserts]. It is best to use full sentences and the subject’s exact wording whenever possible. There will be some exceptions.

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