Editorial Policy

The Williams Record is the official student newspaper of Williams College. The Record strives to maintain journalistic integrity in providing the College community with quality, engaging and informative content every week.

The Record welcomes all interested students and readers to attend the staffwriters and photographers meetings at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays in our office, Paresky 209. At this meeting, please feel free to approach editors with questions about the last week’s issue or ideas for the next week’s issue. Article assignments will be given at this time. If you are unable to make this meeting, story suggestions and scoops can also be sent to eic@williamsrecord.com.

Content selection: 

As the College’s independent newspaper for Williams College, the Record takes seriously its responsibility to provide accurate and comprehensive coverage of events occurring in and around the College and the Williamstown community seriously. Given that such events are rarely covered in other local or national publications, the Record seeks to prioritize campus events in its coverage, while providing the highest quality content possible. We seek to provide coverage important to the College community that could not be found elsewhere. Additionally, as a rule of thumb, the Record also does not typically preview events.

Additionally, it is the Record’s policy only to print stories directly related to Williams and the campus itself. This is reflective of our mission as the independent student newspaper of Williams College: We seek to provide coverage important to the College community that could not be found elsewhere. Additionally, as a rule of thumb, the Record also does not typically preview events.

All decisions regarding content and coverage are made at the discretion of the editor-in-chief and editorial board. Due to the size of our staff and the multitude of events taking place on campus, we are unable to cover every event  happening on campus and are often faced with difficult decisions about coverage and content. It is the board’s goal to provide coverage of events and stories that we feel are of importance to or that interestedinterest to our readers. When deciding how to prioritizeIn prioritizing stories, we adhere to the following journalistic rule of thumb: A story is newsworthy if it is so important that it does not matter whether it is interesting, or so interesting that it does not matter whether it is important. The editorial board welcomes suggestions and requests regarding content and coverage; however, it is the board’s responsibility to prioritize newsworthy events and make final decisions regarding content without bias or prejudice.

Restrictions on Sectional coverage:

  • Due to the number of performance groups on campus, the Record frequently limits coverage of any one performance, musical or theater group in the Arts section in any given semester to accommodate coverage of other groups.
  • Due to the high number of a cappella groups on campus and the frequency of their performances, the Record does not cover a cappella concerts.
  • The Record does not typically preview events (such as lectures, debates, fora, performances, etc.) in any section. Due to the relatively small size of our staff, we are unable to cover all events happening on campus in a given week and are often faced with difficult decisions about coverage and content.

Op-eds and letters to the editor: 

The Record’s Opinions section offers members of the community a unique opportunity to share their views about issues affecting the College. The op-ed format offers writers a quarter page (700-900 words) in which they can opine on any issue affecting the College community using a variety of narrative and literary techniques. Opinions pieces should offer a coherent and engaging argument, and cannot be advertisements for a group or event.

Readers wishing to opine on a recently published Record article are encouraged to submit a brief letter to the editor (300-500 words). Responses to previous Record articles, including previously published op-eds, can only be run as letters.

Both op-eds and letters should be submitted directly to the Record’s Opinions editor.

The Record is committed to preserving the authenticity of Opinions submissions and, as such, no substantive content changes are made to submissions without the approval of the contributor. The Record reserves the right to edit submissions for grammar and style pursuant to the Record Style Guide. The Record will also not publish opinions submissions if they contain information that is factually incorrect or libelous. Decisions regarding the adequacy of Opinions submissions are made at the discretion of the Opinions editor and senior board members and are made on principles such as timeliness, coherence and strength of argument, among others.

In order to ensure that the Record can produce a thoughtful and well-written Opinions section each week, Opinions submissions cannot be withdrawn from consideration for publication any later than 5 p.m. on the Sunday immediately preceding the issue in which the piece is scheduled to be run. Exceptions are permitted only if the writer has obtained explicit agreement from the Opinions editor and the editor-in-chief.

Additionally, the Record reserves the right to determine which op-eds will be published in any given week. Decisions to reject submissions or publish them in a later issue stem from the Record’s commitment to producing a quality, balanced and timely Opinions page each week.

Journalistic practice and ethics:

When deciding how to prioritize stories, we tend to follow a well-known journalistic rule of thumb: A story is newsworthy if it is so important that it does not matter whether it is interesting, or so interesting that it does not matter whether it is important. Additionally, it is the Record’s policy only to print stories directly related to Williams and the campus itself. This is reflective of our mission as the independent student newspaper of Williams College: We seek to provide coverage important to the Williams community that could not be found elsewhere. Additionally, as a rule of thumb, the Record also does not typically preview events.

The Record, including the editorial board and staff, adheres to a strict policy of ethical journalism and seeks to provide the most accurate coverage possible. As soon as a Record reporter identifies himself or herself, the conversation that follows is considered on the record. Statements made on the record cannot be retracted. Open meetings, including College Council meetings, student group meetings and public fora, are considered on the record. The Record also considers posts to the Williams Students Online forum and e-mails sent to an open listserv or forwarded from a sourceto be part of the public domain. We will make every effort to get in touch with the author of the e-mail before publication but reserve the right to print or reference such messages.

The Record places a high value on comments from a variety of sources and seeks to ensuringe the accuracy and authenticity of statements. Any source quoted by a Record reporter following a verbal interview or conversation is entitled to a review of their statement. Quoted statements may be revised by the source to correct minor factual or grammatical mistakes but cannot be withdrawn from the record or substantively modified.

Additionally, sources quoted in a story only have access to the portions of the article in which they are quoted or in which their statements are paraphrased, and  are not able to see the entirety of the piece in which they are quoted prior to publication. It is standard practice to provide individuals quoted with the opportunity to check quotes for accuracy, but the article itself remains private until the Record hits the presses. Additionally, quotes are can only be edited for accuracy; extensive changes will be rejected. The Record holds its writers responsible for the truth and balance of their reporting, and allowing sources to directly shape stories would undermine that responsibility.

The Record strives for the highest level of accuracy in its reporting, an objective that includes correcting errors when they occur. Please e-mail eic@williamsrecord.com to report an error or a mistake.

Editorials:

Each week the Record editorial board publishes between one and two editorials reflecting the board’s opinions on the week’s top News stories. The editorial is the only article in the newspaper that reflects the opinion of the editorial board. After reviewing all of the News articles, we choose one or more issue on which to write. The editorial board discusses the story or stories in depth and drafts an opinion representing the majority of the board’s sentiments as well as the most accurate and concise recollection of the facts at hand. The Record’s editorial is unsigned and not drafted by any single author, and as such, the final piece is not a representation of any one editor’s beliefs. In order to maintain the editorial integrity of the board, it is standard practice that any board members with conflicts of interest recuse themselves from the relevant week’s editorial discussions.

The Record is an inclusive student organization that seeks to involve and engage with all members of the College community. Therefore, further queries regarding the Record’s editorial policy or getting involved with the Record should be directed to the editor-in-chief via e-mail at eic@williamsrecord.com, or can be raised at the Record’s weekly open writers’ and photographers’ meetings, held weekly on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in the Record office, Paresky 209.