Editorial Policy

The Editorial Policy of the Tripod

The Mission of the Tripod

The Trinity Tripod is the sole student newspaper at Trinity College. We strive to cover the issues that matter most to the campus community and to do so with accuracy, integrity, and purpose. We believe in the truth and the fundamental importance of the journalistic practice to a free and Democratic society. Moreover, we believe that the bedrock of a civil society is affording an opportunity for the free interchange of ideas and resolve that it is our duty to do so.

The truth needs to be heard and it is the solemn charge of the Tripod, for better or worse, to bear that burden. Accordingly, we will not stifle beliefs and opinions in our Opinion Section merely because they are unpopular, nor will we pursue coverage of individuals and stories in our News Section with animosity or malice. We do not believe in emendations or retractions when the issue at hand is one of interpretation and believe that the only time change to a story is merited is when falsity is demonstrated.

A Note on the Independence of the Tripod

The Tripod is the student newspaper of Trinity College and is not beholden to the views or persuasions of the Trinity College administration or the Student Government Organization (SGA). The Tripod operates independently of these entities and, accordingly, we will not publish what these parties may demand nor will we hesitate to publish stories when we determine those matters to be editorially appropriate.

The Editor-in-Chief retains the sole right to change and amend these policies, in consultation with the Editorial Board, at their discretion.

A Note on Reporting and Quotation Standards

The Tripod assumes that all of its staff and contributing writers will verify the accuracy of the articles they submit in the arts, news, features, and sports sections. The Tripod does its best to verify the authenticity of this information and understands that violations undermine the trust and credibility of the Tripod. In accordance with our peer institutions, such as the Williams Record, and major news organizations such as the New York Times, the Tripod assumes that all quotations in quotation marks (“”) are verbatim and attributed to the named source. If quotation marks are invoked, the content must reflect exactly what a source said. The Tripod also incorporates into its policies the New York Time‘s Guidelines on Integrity and Ethical Journalism, except when such provisions conflict with those explicitly stated here.

Further, the Tripod does not tolerate plagiarism. Writers who engage in plagiarism will be removed from the staff of the Tripod and will not be permitted to continue to write. The Tripod will also retract the relevant story and make a note of the reasons for such a retraction on its editorial page.

The Tripod expects that conversations with sources, including those conducted via email, telephone, or other electronic mediums, are “on the record” unless otherwise specified. If statements are indicated as “off the record,” “private,” or any other reasonably corollary of those terms, the writers may not cite to that content in any story nor disclose it to other writers or editors without the source’s express permission. 

At the request of the source, a writer will explain the terms “on the record” and “off the record” in accordance with the guidance of the Associated Press. If a writer is unable to do so, the writer will direct the source to speak with the Editor-in-Chief. 

The Tripod also recognizes that a promise made to a source is an enforceable agreement, as decided in Cohen v. Cowles, 501 U.S. 663 (1991), and that, accordingly, such promises will be observed and respected by the editors of the Tripod.

The Tripod expects that if specific content is requested to be “off the record,” the writer will treat the information as confidential and not disclose or incorporate it into the article. The only exception to this is when the shared information or evidence directly involves an action that would qualify as criminal or would otherwise endanger the physical safety or well-being of an individual.

The Tripod prefers in-person interviews and also recognizes telephonic interviews, face-to-face communication, and email as secondary reporting methods. The Tripod encourages the use of interview recording with the assent of the parties involved.

A Note on Anonymous Sources

The Tripod encourages all sources to go “on the record” in their interviews and may be unable to publish certain stories if sources cannot identify themselves. However, the Tripod will permit anonymous sources in accordance with the following policies:

  1. The Tripod can independently verify the alleged statements and facts from the anonymous source with at least two other individuals;
  2. The Editor-in-Chief or section editor has had an opportunity to meet with or have knowledge of the anonymous source; and
  3. The writer has received the assent of the section editors and the Editor-in-Chief to use the anonymous source.

The Tripod also adopts the policies of the Associated Press regarding anonymous sources, in accordance with our peer institution the Williams Record, as follows:

  1. The material is information and not opinion or speculation, and is vital to the news report;
  2. The information is not available except under the conditions of anonymity imposed by the source; and
  3. The source is reliable and in a position to have accurate information.

NB: this policy on anonymous sources is distinct from our policy on anonymous news tips.

A Note on Editorials

Tripod editorials are signed by the individual authors with their initials or, in the case of an all-staff editorial, with “The Trinity Tripod.” The right to pen editorials rests solely with the editors of the Tripod and may not be utilized as a platform for other undergraduate students or administrators. The views of editorials do not reflect the views of Trinity College or its constituent organizations unless explicitly stated otherwise.

As the Tripod notes on its masthead, “the opinions expressed in Tripod editorials represent the views of the Tripod Editorial Board, unless otherwise signed. Those opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of all contributors to the Tripod.”

The Tripod reserves the right to comment in its editorials on matters of public opinion and reserves the commensurate right to endorse candidates for political office at the local, states, and national level.

A Note on Opinions

The Tripod does not endorse the views of any of the opinions expressed in its paper or online editions unless explicitly stated. As the Tripod notes on its masthead, the “writing expressed in the Opinion section belongs to the writers themselves and is not endorsed by the Tripod.” The views of opinions do not represent the views of Trinity College or its constituent organizations unless explicitly stated otherwise.

In certain exceptional instances, the Tripod may condemn or express its disagreement with the argument raised in an opinion article in a note on its editorial page. The right to issue such a note rests solely with the editors and may not be exercised by other undergraduate students or administrators.

The Tripod will permit anonymous opinions under a very limited set of circumstances, determined on a case-by-case basis. Simply not wishing to subscribe your name to an opinion for political purposes or for fear of ridicule from students are not sufficient grounds for anonymity. This is consistent with the anonymity policies of major newspapers across the country, among them the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

Such anonymous articles will be published when the veracity of their content is believed to be of significant importance or value to the public interest and when the health, safety, or welfare of the author are determined to be in serious danger. Questions or concerns regarding the Tripod‘s anonymous opinion policy may be directed to tripod@trincoll.edu.

In accordance with the tenets of Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241 (1974), the Tripod does not recognize that a “right to respond” inheres to those individuals who are criticized or written about in the Tripod. Generally, as a matter of course, we will extend the courtesy of a response; however, such a courtesy does not constitute a vested right on the part of any individual.

The Tripod will not investigate the sourcing or content of opinion articles unless the arguments presented are determined to be demonstrably false. Concerns with opinion content should be directed to the writer of the individual article, though as a matter of course the Tripod will not amend existing opinion articles nor remove them, even at the request of writers.

Writers who wish to amend their opinions may submit a separate article or a letter to the editor clarifying or responding to student concerns. Such responses will be limited to one per article, as the Tripod does not encourage continued, indefinite debate in its opinion pages and wishes to ensure that all have the opportunity to express their perspective.

Requests for the emendation or retraction of an opinion article, online or in print, may be submitted in accordance with the Tripod‘s Website Retention and Article Removal or Retraction Policies located here.

A Note on Letters to the Editor

The Tripod welcomes letters to the editor on any topic from all undergraduate and graduate members of the Trinity College campus. The Tripod also welcomes letters from faculty, staff, and administrators. Letters from third-parties or individuals outside of the community will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The views of letters to the editor do not represent the views of Trinity College or its constituent organizations unless explicitly stated otherwise.

The Tripod limits letters to the editor to 500 words. Depending on the constraints of space, the Tripod may limit the length of letters or permit their extension.

The Tripod will generally publish all letters it receives, including those which criticize its editorial policies or direction, subject to the following exceptions:

  1. The information contained within the letter is an ad hominem or otherwise personal attack directed at a member of the staff or the campus community more broadly;
  2. The information contained within the letter is demonstrably false, meaning that it can be contradicted by two individuals or multiple public sources or privately held sources made available to the Tripod;
  3. The information contained within the letter would incite violence, criminal acts, or otherwise endanger the health, safety, or welfare of the campus community.

The right to deny publication rests solely with the Tripod. Decisions on the status of letters to the editor are final and may not be appealed.

A Note on Satire

The Tripod publishes satirical articles once a year in its annual Trinity Liepod. The Liepod is generally published on or about Apr. 1. All content in the Liepod is purely satirical and is patently false. Further, satire has been recognized as a form of free speech and expression under the First Amendment, accord Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988).

The Tripod uses invented names in all of its stories, except in cases where public figures or organizations are being satirized, adopting the policy of satirical publications such as the Onion as to who constitutes a public figure. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental. The Liepod is not intended for readers under the age of 18 as it may contain vulgar remarks or other inappropriate content.

The Tripod may accept satirical content in its regular print issues and online on a case-by-case basis. If and when such articles are published, clear distinction will be made that the piece is satirical. Satirists interested in submitting their content may contact the Tripod directly at tripod@trincoll.edu.

A Note on Obituaries

The Tripod will record the deaths of community members, including current or recent students, faculty, staff, and alumni/alumnae at its discretion and when it determines that coverage is warranted and appropriate. The Tripod may also cover the deaths of emeritus and emerita faculty. Every effort will be made to respect the solemn nature of this responsibility and the Tripod will not permit any ad hominem or other inappropriate content to appear in conjunction with an individual.

Requests for the printing of obituaries or reports of the deaths of significant community members may be made to the Tripod by emailing tripod@trincoll.edu.

The Tripod recognizes that this is a difficult time for the family and loved ones of the deceased and will never contact a decedent’s immediate family without an express invitation to do so from those family members.

A Note on Style

The Tripod hereby adopts and relies upon the dictates of the Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (2019) with regard to those matters not addressed in this policy, as applicable. The Tripod also relies, for guidance on legal issues, competent counsel (see note on counsel below) and Frank D. LoMonte and the Student Press Law Center’s Law of the Student Press, 4th ed. (2014). The Tripod also maintains a house style on certain matters, including dates, and in all matters when that house style comes into conflict with the Associated Press style, the house style shall prevail.

A Note on Our Corrections Policy

The Tripod acknowledges that errors will appear in its content and knows that mistakes may occur. To report corrections, please email tripod@trincoll.edu. Please bear in mind that the Tripod only accepts corrections of factual errors and, as a matter of course, will not change articles because of concerns over depiction or portrayal.

The Tripod avers that corrections deal strictly with spelling errors, errors in names and dates, and other minor content errors. Corrections will appear on page two of the next regular print edition and the inaccuracy will be included with the article on the Tripod website.

A Note on Comment and

Website/Social Media Policies

The Tripod encourages a spirited and open debate on our website. Comments that engender conversation or provide critiques are welcome, so long as they stand within the bounds of civil discourse.

Comments will be moderated by the Editor-in-Chief in consultation with the Managing Editor. Comments will not be accepted if the Tripod determines that they contain profanity, are unrelated to the content of the article, contain hate speech or statements of defamation, or are determined to be an ad hominem attack against reporters or the Tripod itself. Decisions on the approval of comments are not appealable.

In accordance with our peer institution the Bowdoin Orient, once submitted, comments become the property of the Tripod. The Tripod maintains the right to ensure the identity of the stated author and redistribute or republish comments as it sees fit.

Further, the views expressed in comments are solely those of the commenter. They are not endorsed or promoted by the Tripod or Trinity College.

The Tripod encourages those with substantial concerns or thoughts to submit a letter to the editor or an opinion article in accordance with the polices examined supra.

The Tripod permits individual opinion writers, even if such writers are members of the paper staff, to comment and engage in a dialogue with those who remark on their articles.

The Tripod maintains social media accounts on the following platforms: Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube. The Tripod‘s policies on comments and data collection, as applicable, apply to those platforms as well. The Tripod may create and add additional platforms not mentioned here and, when such action is taken, those platforms will be governed under the same rules.

Furthermore, the Tripod‘s policies on comments and data collection, as applicable, will govern commensurate with other platforms for the following Tripod email accounts: tripod@trincoll.edu and tripodads@trincoll.edu. Use of the Tripod email accounts and website are in accordance with Trinity College’s Acceptable Use Policy and may also be subject to Trinity College’s Privacy Policy under certain conditions.

The Tripod may collect information on website access and usage and catalog such information in its analytic database. Such information may be collected using Google Analytics and other programs. This information will be maintained and may be accessible by members of the Tripod staff and may include IP addresses, emails, and comments. The Tripod will not disclose that information to Trinity College or any of its constituent organizations and will not disclose that information to the state or federal government except as required by applicable law or a court-issued subpoena.

A Note on Quote Checks

The Tripod will provide its interviewees with transcript copies of quotes taken from their conversation upon request. In accordance with the policy of our peer institution, The Williams Record, we expect there to be clear communication between the writer and the interviewee about what will be subject to amendment in the article. The Tripod will not provide writers with the full text of a story or any article in keeping with the principal of not permitting prior review of its content.

A Note on Conflicts of Interest

Conflicts of interest can damage the integrity of the Tripod and, ergo, every effort is made to avoid potential conflicts. The Tripod requires that, whenever possible, writers who are concurrently involved in the events of news or features stories withdraw from the assignment. The Tripod also determines whether conflicts exist on a case-by-case basis for other sections. The Tripod will not permit promotional coverage or sponsored content, but does allow advertisements in accordance with its rates and other restrictions described here. Writers should address and make known their concerns regarding potential conflicts of interest to the Editor-in-Chief.

The Tripod, in accordance with our peer institution the Williams Record, recognizes that a conflict of interest exists when a member of the Editorial Board simultaneously holds an elected office in the SGA. Accordingly, a member of the Editorial Board will not be able to run for office with the SGA during the term of his or her tenure with the Tripod. Editorial Board members, however, are permitted to serve on ad hoc or standing committees of the SGA.

Gifts or monetary disbursements to editors with a value of over $50.00 and given to influence or otherwise restrict the ability of the Tripod to freely report the truth are considered conflicts of interest. When such propositions are made, writers or editors should bring such instances to the attention of the Editor-in-Chief.

A Note on the Tripod Archives

The Trinity College Raether Library and the Watkinson Library have compiled an extensive online archive of The Trinity Tripod, spanning from 1904 to the present day. All weekly issues are digitized in PDF format and generally made available within the week. The search feature of the archives is helpful in looking for specific authors, titles, or topics and can be organized by year. The archives for the present and all previous semesters can be found here.

If you notice an error in the archives or find that an issue is missing, please contact the Tripod directly at tripod@trincoll.edu.

The records of this website (trinitytripod.com) cover the recent history of the Tripod, but do not necessarily contain every article that has been published. The majority of the articles that appear in each Tuesday print issue are produced online on the same date of the issue. It is the policy of the Tripod to upload all major text-based content and the Tripod will not withhold a story from online publication if it appears in print. NB: However, certain graphics with complicated print-only formats, at the discretion of the Editor-in-Chief, may not appear on the website.

If you are having trouble finding an article, please review the archives or email the Tripod at tripod@trincoll.edu for assistance.

A Note on Website Retention and Article Removal or Retraction Policies

The Tripod strives to be a record of Trinity College’s history and we work hard to ensure that all editions are preserved in the College archives and that their content is incorporated as part of the digital record on our website. We are also committed to the truth and to the accurate depiction of information.

In keeping with that commitment and in accordance with our peer institution the Wesleyan Argus, the Tripod avers that alterations of the historical record of the community are contrary to our mission as a College newspaper. One of the tenets of journalism is the importance of arriving at the truth and sharing that truth with the student population. At times, this truth may be damaging to the parties involved. However, to alter or amend our archives for any but the most egregious errors hinders our ability to report the truth accurately and fairly. In short, it limits our ability to do our job.

The Tripod acknowledges that errors will appear in its content and knows that mistakes may occur.

Accordingly, the Tripod recognizes two classes of requests. The first, for corrections, deal strictly with spelling errors, errors in names and dates, and other minor content errors, and may be submitted to the Tripod at tripod@trincoll.edu. Corrections will appear on page two of the next regular print edition and the inaccuracy will be included with the article on the Tripod website.

The second are requests for retractions or major emendations to content. Those requests are more serious and the Tripod will not alter or remove content from our archives except under the following conditions:

  1. The content is factually incorrect, with such factual inaccuracy proved to the editor of the Tripod by the introduction of evidence or a detailed refutation of the inaccuracy; or
  2. The content has been deemed libelous, dangerous or otherwise illegal by a court of law or by legal counsel with supporting evidence.

Cases that fall under the above criteria will be addressed on a case-by-case basis by the Editor-in-Chief. Content that does not fall within those two categories will not be considered for removal or alteration. If an error is determined and proved satisfactorily, the Tripod may issue a correction or emendation to the article and, in exceptional cases, may retract the story.

Articles that are removed from the Tripod‘s website or search engine results are not removed from PDF versions of the paper, nor are they deleted from the College’s archives. The Tripod will not alter, amend, or remove PDF versions of the paper under any circumstances or for any reasons. Those who wish to have their articles removed from the website or search engine results should email their requests, with supporting evidence, to tripod@trincoll.edu.

Further, requests to remove content due to damage to personal reputation, if factually true, will generally not be approved as a matter of course.

However, if an individual does file a request to remove an article because of a reputation-related concern, the Tripod will not consider such request until one year (365 days) has passed from the date of the publication of the content online or in print. We require this one year rule to ensure that careful thought and consideration is given to the request and that requests of a fleeting nature do not arise.

The Tripod reminds those with concerns about retraction that the paper retains full editorial responsibility and such editorial authority is recognized by the College. While the Office of the Dean of Students may hear your concerns and seek to mediate them, they cannot mandate that the Tripod remove or retract content.

We appreciate your understanding and ask that you consider this policy carefully before contacting us with alteration, removal, or retraction requests.

A Note on our Adviser

The Tripod retains a member of the faculty as an adviser to the paper, serving at the pleasure of the Editor-in-Chief and the Editorial Board. The adviser may be consulted on questions of content and questions of College policy by the Editorial Board; however, the adviser does not have editorial control over the Tripod and does not have an opportunity to review the paper prior to publication. While the adviser may share student concerns and bring them to our attention at their will, the adviser can only suggest, not mandate, that content be amended or retracted. While the Tripod will always give strong consideration to the adviser’s comments, the Tripod may not always concur with or implement their suggestions.

A Note on Counsel

The Tripod may retain private legal counsel, particularly when threats or other statements deemed threatening are directed toward members of the Tripod staff or Editorial Board. The Tripod takes seriously such comments and will act to receive guidance from attorneys experienced in civil and criminal law.

The Tripod will not defend the authors of opinions with its counsel, though may refer such writers to competent counsel. All questions regarding counsel or any legal action against the Tripod should be directed, by formal letter, to the following address: The Trinity Tripod, ATTN: Editor-in-Chief, Box 702582, 300 Summit Street, Hartford, CT 06106.

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The Tripod has adopted its editorial policies, in part, from its peer institutions the Wesleyan Argus, the Williams Record, and the Bowdoin Orient. When such policies have been adapted substantially or in part from these institutions, credit is attributed accordingly.

These policies are effective as of Mar. 30, 2020 and were approved by the Tripod in accordance with its Constitution. Further, at the time of enactment these provisions and those of any other cited policy on the website are appended to the Constitution as “Appendix A.”