On Reporting

Guidelines for On-Campus Reporting

This important document outlines guidelines, process, procedures — and your rights and restrictions — about reporting on campus. Download it here.

Rules of Conduct for Students And Journalists

The university’s codes of student conduct govern both academic and non-academic behaviour, and all students must be familiar with them. In addition, the School of Journalism enforces rules that require students to model their reporting and writing for course assignments on the best traditions of journalism.

The faculty of the Ryerson School of Journalism has agreed that the following statement on accuracy and verifiability be distributed to all students and considered a part of the course outline for every journalism course.

Accuracy of Facts:

Accuracy is the first and most important value for reporting. Every reporter and therefore every journalism student is responsible for ensuring total accuracy in every story, including every class assignment, regardless of size or scope. Facts include the correct spelling of names, correct job titles, ages, dates, and every other detail in a story. Accuracy is also required in direct quotes as well as all reporting of people’s opinions, feelings, and recollections. What people say should be represented fairly and in context.

Verifiability of Facts:

Every fact reported in every story must be verifiable; nothing should be guessed at or deduced, unless this is clear to the audience. Not only must the student stand ready to provide verification of each fact, but the audience should, as a general rule, be able to evaluate the reliability of the information. For some assignments and classes, students are required to provide lists of sources (whether live or documentary) for verification purposes; even where this is not required, the student must be ready to provide such documentation upon request. Instructors may, without notice to the student, contact sources to verify the accuracy of any facts.

Inaccuracy or unverifiability in any statement of fact may result in a failing grade for the assignment.

Truth in the Reporter-Source Relationship:

When students contact sources for any story assignment, they should identify themselves as students of the School of Journalism. The student should say what the interview is for: Normally, it’s best to say that it is for a class assignment but that there is a possibility of later publication or broadcast. (If you don’t indicate that the information could end up in print or on the air, then you will have to secure the subject’s permission if you later decide to make a submission for publication or broadcast.) Sources should also be informed that they may be contacted by an instructor or another student for fact-checking purposes.

If a student interviews or reports on a friend, relative, employer, former teacher or anyone else with whom there’s a relationship that could lead to conflict of interest, the student should always consult the assigning instructor before going ahead, and, if permission is granted, this relationship should be identified in the resulting story.

Departures from this policy will result in disciplinary action normally including a failing grade for the assignment.

Fabrication

Students will be held responsible for any inaccuracies in their work, whether intentional or merely careless. But fabrication — the making up of information — is the most serious form of academic and journalistic dishonesty. Nothing justifies it. In journalism, it destroys the public’s faith that what is presented is true; at Ryerson, it is a serious offence against the standards of the School of Journalism and the university’s Student Code of Academic Conduct.

As set out in the Ryerson code, penalties for fabrication are levied by the instructor after a determination of academic misconduct has been made. The minimum penalty is a mark of zero on the assignment and a disciplinary notice on the student’s record, which remains in force for at least two years.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism occurs when one offers someone else’s work as one’s own. Students may not submit as their own work anything that includes, without acknowledgement:
– material copied from any other source;
– any previous work of their own;
– any work that was written or edited by anyone else, or for which the student has received outside assistance (excluding help that is provided by the University, e.g. through instruction, seminars, or the Writing Centre).

Students should also routinely distinguish between their own original research and reporting on research done by others; this should be done through a form of attribution that is appropriate to the medium for which the work is intended. Ryerson’s Student Code of Academic Conduct contains a strict statement of policy on plagiarism, and this policy applies within the School of Journalism. But because plagiarism in journalism is especially serious, the penalties for plagiarism within the School of Journalism may be harsher than elsewhere.

As set out in the Ryerson code, penalties for plagiarism are levied by the instructor after a determination of academic misconduct has been made. The minimum penalty is a mark of zero on the assignment and a disciplinary notice on the student’s record, which remains in force for at least two years.

Guide to Reporting on Campus