Can we share editorial policies?
An adviser sent out the following through the CHSPA listserv as the new school year began: “We are finally going to create a written policy for our yearbook. I am particularly interested in how other yearbooks deal with the death of a student or staff member. Anyone willing to share their policies with me?”
A great question and our members responded.
Mary Lauck, just retired from advising at Platte Valley HS, wrote, “Our policy was to put the person’s birth and death date under their name in the mug section and then put a gray box behind the name and dates. Any further tributes were included in the ad section and paid for by family and/or friends, at the same reduced ad rate as we sell senior ads. It served us well and avoided overdoing things and any hint of favoritism or sensationalism.”
“Our staff has had two student deaths while I have been here, wrote Dan Copeland, adviser at Estes Park HS. “Our policy is to include the student’s school photo with his/her class, as well as include any other pictures that might correspond with a spread subject in the same manner as we would any other student. We do not include memorial pages in the coverage of our book. This would look bad if there happened to be another student death after the book is submitted; that student would be left out of the book, while the other would be celebrated. If friends, parents, or the class wants to purchase a personal ad dedicated to the student, it’s okay.”
I just had to chime in, writing, “I think the biggest issue is that of covering a death after the book has finalled. Maybe it could make the supplement, if you have one. Or be noted in the next volume of the book. I hate to see us not cover important events, such as deaths. That’s one reason my staffs went to a chronological book, beginning in 1997.
“I’m a big proponent of encouraging parents, etc. to purchase a page in the Senior Ad section, though, again, we can run into deadline issues.
“Student deaths are always going to be awful, never can be anticipated, and will always cause anguish for everyone. I think we need a policy stating that the staff will do its best to report on the event and provide space for more personal comments, if at all possible.
“I wish I had a better way to deal with all this.”
Do you have a better way to deal with this?
CHSPA would love to gather samples of editorial policies for all school media, and we will get them up on www.chspaonline.org. If you are willing to share your policies, please send them as attachments to email@example.com.