I. GENERAL ORGANIZATION
A. Name and Purpose
Synapse is the student news website of the University of California, San Francisco. It serves as a primary source of communication for the entire San Francisco campus community. This online publication shall (1) inform the UCSF community of events and ideas concerning the University and/or its students, (2) represent the UCSF student voice, (3) facilitate interdisciplinary communications and collaborations, (4) promote student government and administrative transparency (5) provide an educational experience and career development opportunities through science communication (6) strive to maintain the greatest degree of editorial independence while striving to uphold the strongest sense of journalistic integrity.
B. Staff Membership & Behavior
Staff membership shall be open to all registered students of the University of California, San Francisco. Staff membership shall be open to all registered UCSF trainees regardless of color, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual preference or political beliefs. The only considerations for membership shall be the applicants’ ability and desire to work within the framework of the newspaper’s mission and policies. Contributions from faculty and staff may also be submitted with Synapse’s Editor(s) in Chief determining suitability for publication. The Synapse shall be devoted to maintaining a peaceful, friendly working environment. All employees have responsibility to treat their fellow workers with respect and to refrain from all types of harassing behavior.
C. Board of Publications
Official governing authority is delegated by the Board of Publications. The Board of Publications will be consulted regarding policy and personnel matters. The Board of Publications shall act as a review /oversight board for Synapse, reviewing any questions that arise from editorial meetings and providing feedback to editors about the content.
Decisions of the Board of Publications shall only be made with a quorum present and shall require a majority of those voting. Fifty percent of voting members shall constitute a quorum.
- Membership and Appointment
Shall be made in spring quarter. Terms of appointment shall be for one year, from July 1 through June 30. Members may be appointed for additional terms. Shall consist of the following voting members:
- Managing Editor
- One member from the Graduate & Professional Student Association
- One student affairs staff member from either a professional school or the graduate division.
If a member is unable to attend a Board of Publications meeting, he/she may give a signed, dated proxy to one alternate of his/her choice from his/her same school or division, who shall have voting privileges for that meeting only.
The membership of the Board of Publications shall yearly elect one of its members, who is a UCSF student in good standing, to serve as Chairperson of the Board of Publications for the Board's term of office. This person shall not be a member of the Synapse staff. The Board chairperson shall call the meetings, set the agenda and preside over the meetings.
The Board of Publications shall meet at least once in the fall quarter and once in the winter quarter. Additional meetings shall be scheduled at the call of the editor-in-chief or four members of the board. Meetings of the Board of Publications shall be publicized in advance in Synapse. All meetings shall be open to the public.
- Staff Support
The Managing Editor, Synapse, shall provide staff support for the Board of Publications and its meetings.
D. Editorial Board
The Editorial Board shall be responsible for the editorial policy of Synapse. The Board shall hold bi-weekly meetings during the academic year that are open to any UCSF student wishing to participate. The Editor-in-Chief shall lead these meetings. Editorial decisions will be made after a full and free discussion by the students. In cases where the editorial board cannot reach consensus, the Editor-in-Chief will make the final decision in consultation with the Managing Editor. The Managing Editor shall provide staff support for the Editorial Board and its meetings.
E. Staff Structures
- Editor-in-Chief — shall be a full-time student in good standing at UCSF during the course of his/her term. The Editor in Chief will be responsible for leading the editorial content, as well as assigning and scheduling staff submissions to ensure consistent flow of articles and images to the website. An outgoing EditorinChief may appoint student(s) expressing interest to perform the duties of the vacant position in the following quarter. Final selection, in the event of dispute, shall be made by a Board of Publications majority with a quorum present.
- Managing Editors — are ultimately responsible for the upkeep of the website, shall decide all questions of policy in special consultation with the Editor in Chief, shall coordinate the flow of content between writers and editors, shall perform any number of tasks pertaining to the recruitment, training and retention of new contributors and staff members, shall oversee advertising space.
- Editors — shall be responsible for the technical quality of writing in the newspaper and for enforcing all style and policy guidelines. Shall prescribe style guidelines (grammar, punctuation, and other conventions), and shall edit all copy to conform to this style. Appointments are made by the Editor-in-Chief and are subject to change during the school year.
- Payment Guidelines — Stipends shall be determined by the Managing Editor for duties of a writer, photographer or editor. The Managing Editor reserves the right to withhold stipends if the student does nothing to earn it.
- Staff Employees — In recognition of the need for student autonomy in the editorial operation of Synapse, the process for hiring the editorial staff should maximize the involvement of students, who are responsible for the news, in the selection process. Therefore, career staff employees will be hired by the university through the following procedure:
- The Editorial Board of Synapse, with the assistance of the Director, Student Involvement & Programs, will prepare a job description for the open position. The Director will review the job description to determine if it meets university personnel requirements and, if all requirements are met, begin the recruitment process.
- The job must be posted in the major job advertising locations in the San Francisco Bay Area for at least three weeks. Additional promotional media is recommended.
- All applications will be forwarded from the Director to the Editorial Board of Synapse. A committee drawn from members of both the Editorial Board and the Board of Publications is responsible for reviewing all the applications. From the applicants, the committee must select a minimum of three applicants to interview.
- The committee will interview the applicants and forward its comments to the Director. The Director is responsible for checking references for each of the candidates interviewed and will make all final personnel decisions.
- Evaluations — The University of California staff employees shall be evaluated at least once each year. The evaluation process shall include input about the staff employees' performance from the Editor-in-Chief. The Director shall coordinate staff performance evaluations.
F. Financial Policies
Accounting functions and the preparation of monthly expense reports shall be the responsibility of the Student Life office.
The staff shall strive to maintain the greatest degree of fiscal and editorial independence from any and all bodies or individuals. Synapse shall not reflect any particular interest group on campus.
H. Compliance to University Guidelines
The Editor-in-Chief and staff shall comply with university policies and procedures during the operation of Synapse. The Editor-in-Chief shall report on such matters to the Director, Student Involvement and Programs.
- General Coverage: Shall have its primary focus on students and their interests.
- Reporting is to be accurate and fair. All facts shall be supported by either the reporter’s personal experiences or by highly reliable sources of information. Reports are to give a balanced view of events being covered, to the best ability of the reporter, with the material presented in accordance with its news value.
B. Expression of Opinion
- Opinion pieces should be placed in a special section and so marked.
- Guest columns, commentaries or opinions may be published but shall be marked as such. Synapse reserves the right to limit the length of these, without changing their content.
- Editors reserve the right to enforce length requirements and to apply the other policy guidelines in consultation with the author.
- Articles written by staff writers will be prioritized and guest editorials should only be printed rarely under unique circumstances when deemed appropriate by the Editor.
- Synapse reserves the right to decline content deemed by the editors to be antithetical to the interests of UCSF students or the campus community.
- Accuracy: Editors will make sure that their reporters have taken proper care to present accurate information in their articles. Any statement other than the direct citation of facts and circumstances is to be attributed to responsible sources.
- Scope of coverage: Synapse shall endeavor to publish all contributions from students, provided that the contributions are of general interest, are of reasonable editorial quality and are not unduly repetitive or lengthy. If the Managing Editor refuses to publish a contribution, the contributor may appeal to the Editorial Board and then to the Board of Publications. The Board of Publications shall expeditiously hear the complaint and the Managing Editor's explanation, then render a final decision.
- Prior Censorship – No outside individual or body is to have censorship power, nor shall they be able to view articles before publication. Reporters or editors may confer with interested persons to determine accuracy of portions of a copy at their discretion — though no piece, in its entirety may be shared with non-newspaper staff prior to publication without the consent of the Editor in Chief.
- Off the Record – In any interview or in reporting any event in which public comments are made by an individual, reporters are to assume, unless specifically informed otherwise, that these remarks are for publication. Reporters are to quote their sources accurately and in such a manner as to avoid setting any remarks out of context and thereby cause any misinterpretation. Individuals should expect their remarks to be “off the record” only when they have expressly stated so prior to the statements and have the reporter’s acknowledgement.
- Protecting sources: Source materials shall be protected based on First Amendment considerations.
- Quotes: Persons interviewed and covered shall be quoted accurately. Note taking or the use of a recording device shall be standard procedure in conducting interviews. Permission shall be obtained before taping a personal interview.
- Legality: Libel and invasion of privacy shall be banned.
- Retractions/Corrections: Shall be printed if it is determined that inaccurate information was indeed mistakenly printed. However, this does not cover instances in which individuals disagree with content in a news story or opinion. Space may be provided for those persons in Commentary sections.
- Language usage: No language generally deemed objectionable or distasteful by community standards shall be used unless it is a necessary part of the opinion expressed.
- Ad policy: Paid advertisements do not necessarily reflect the views of Synapse. Synapse and its Editorial Board reserve the right to decline advertisements promoting false or misleading claims, known health risks, or content deemed by the editors to be antithetical to the interests of UCSF students or the UCSF community.