Newspaper operations

Mark Plenke

General Policy Determinations

General policy decisions at The Orion are made by editors and managers in consultation with the advisers. The editor-in-chief, business manager and art director will meet regularly to discuss policy issues. Complaints or concerns about policy should be addressed to an  immediate supervisor and, if not adequately resolved, taken to one of the three management chiefs. If the matter is still not resolved to a staff member’s satisfaction, he or she is encouraged to bring the complaint to the adviser. It is neither productive nor healthy in any organization to bring matters immediately to top executives before giving mid-level managers a chance to resolve them.

Conflicts of Interest

Newspapers, in order to maintain credibility with their readers, must guard their independence. Thus, members of The Orion staff:
• Must take caution or not belong to organizations when that membership could present a conflict of interest with Orion news or opinion coverage.
• Cannot be involved with political campaigns or issues
• Cannot participate in student government
• Should not report on or write opinions about campus or community activities in which they’re involved
• Should not be sources of information to other members of the staff who are reporting on groups or activities in which they’re involved.
Failure to inform a staff supervisor of membership in student government-related activities or other potential conflicts of interest may be cause for termination from the staff.

Advancement at The Orion

Toward the end of each semester there are opportunities for staff members to seek more responsibility and higher levels of newspaper management. Section chiefs, editors and managers are selected in consultation among the adviser and incumbent managers. Students interested in remaining on The Orion for more than one semester and filling a position of higher responsibility should contact their supervisor and the adviser prior to the end of the semester. Each management position requires a letter of application and a statement of goals.

 Separation of Top Managers

The process for removing student members of The Orion management team (Big 4, 5, 6, etc.)

  1. Anyone on the staff and the adviser can initiate a proposal to remove a current manager by writing a letter to the management group in care of the adviser outlining an accusation of illegal or dishonest activity (malfeasance) or failure to perform their job (dereliction). The letter must contain specific examples of behavior harmful to the organization or it will not be forwarded for action.
  2. If the letter meeting the criteria for removal, the adviser will present physical copies of the letter to the management group at its regular weekly meeting. The person making the allegations need not be identified at this stage.
  3. If the manager accused of malfeasance or dereliction admits to the allegations, he or she will be dismissed from the paper immediately and will be paid on a pro-rata basis for days worked in that month. He or she will clean out their desk and return any keys or other Orion property to the adviser immediately.
  4. If the accused manager disputes the accusations, the three remaining students in the management group will schedule a time to take testimony from the accuser and the accused, who may ask witness to appear.
  5. Because this is a personnel matter, only members of the management group may attend the hearing. Witnesses may attend only for the time they are testifying.
  6. The three students must come to a unanimous decision about dismissing or retaining the accused manager delivered in writing to the adviser and the manager. If the person is to be dismissed, he or she will be terminated immediately, will be paid on a pro-rata basis for days worked that month, clean out his or her desk and return any keys or other Orion property to the adviser.
  7. There will be no appeals to the decision.

Cleanliness and professionalism

Staff members should:
• Keep their work areas clean
• Answer phones promptly and in a professional manner.
• Greet visitors to the office in a professional way
• Treat fellow staff members with respect
• Behave professionally while representing the paper in public

They should not:
• Eat or drink near the computers
• Smoke in any university buildings
The ban on smoking, drinking and eating near the computers must be enforced by student editors.

Personal items

The Orion does not ensure the security of personal property, such as textbooks, library books, stereos, purses, book bags, or other personal belongings.

Security and safety

Staff members:
• are discouraged from working in the offices after midnight, even on production nights.
• should not leave the offices unescorted at night or on weekends or holidays. If no other students are available, they should call Campus Police for an escort: 530-898-5555.
• should turn off the lights and the equipment, then lock the door if they are the last person to leave at night.
• should evacuate the offices immediately If a fire alarm is sounded or a fire is evident
• should never loan out office keys.

Mail, messages and announcements

• The Orion editorial staffers are required to have an e-mail account and must share this address with their immediate editor and the managing editor.
• Staff members should check their email, mailbox and office message area each day.
• Incoming mail will be distributed to staff by editors and managers. Contact a supervisor for questions about outgoing mail.
• All off-campus mail must be identified with The Orion return address. The Orion will pay postage only for official correspondence.

The office telephone

Answer telephones promptly and professionally. If the person requested or an ad representative is not present, take a message and arrange for the staffer to return the call.

Press passes and credentials

Individual press passes and credential letters are available. If you require a letter or pass, contact your editor or the adviser.

Business cards

Business cards are available for certain staff positions and can be obtained through a supervisor. Generic cards that say “Reporter” or “Photographer” are also available.