What to Expect in a King’s Journalism Story
Information for Sources
So, you’ve been contacted by a reporter in the School of Journalism. Welcome! You’ve been identified as someone having important information or a valuable perspective to share. Thanks for your curiosity and for considering your involvement in our reporting.
You are being asked to provide comment and/or appear in a story produced by a student in the University of King’s College School of Journalism in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This person may be a student in the four-year Bachelor of Journalism Honours, the one-year Bachelor of Journalism or the Master of Journalism. The student may also be taking a course in the Minor in Journalism Studies.
Our students are learning to produce quality journalism. You are assisting in their learning and, by extension, you’re supporting the important role of journalism in civic society.
You’ll get a chance to present information you consider important and to offer your perspective.
The student’s story will be reviewed, edited and graded by a faculty member in the School. The student’s reporting is guided by ethical standards in the King’s Journalism Student Handbook of Professional Practice.
You are consenting to an interview with the reporter and/or consenting to be recorded on audio or video. The student story is for publication, unless the reporter has told you specifically it is for an in-class assignment submitted solely to the instructor.
Your words and actions will be seen and heard by the public. They may appear on the School’s website of student work, The Signal. The story will be linked on the School’s social media feeds that include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — and those of its reporters. The story may also appear on the School’s platforms, including YouTube, SoundCloud and iTunes.
The story may also appear in syndication services such as Google News. A version may appear in another publication if the reporter sells the story or grants the publication permission to republish it. Your name will likely appear in search results, in association with the story. We may also tag you or your organization on social media. Additionally, we may also embed, share or link to your public social media posts under the terms you agreed to when using the platform.
The reporting process includes recording interviews for accuracy. Your recorded words may appear in text form and/or an audio or video clip. The student will edit the interview and use a portion in a published story. The full recording will be private.
The School considers students to be journalists — not just “student journalists.” You should too. Expect professional, courteous and respectful interactions.
Our reporters work on deadline and may try to contact you in several ways, including email and phone. They may also call you more than once in a day, depending on the story.
You may spend a generous amount of time with the reporter — and see or hear only a small portion reflected in the published story. There may be a few reasons for this: The reporter may be new to the subject area you already know about, and ask plenty of questions to learn more. You may be only one of many sources in a story; a breadth of voices strengthens our reporting. The reporter may also find that one or two of your responses in particular best conveys your perspective.
If your organization is accountable to the public, reporters may ask direct questions about, for example, organizational spending or priorities. If you or your organization are the subject of questions or criticism by others, the reporter should tell you this in advance.
The School acknowledges Canadian media have historically excluded and misrepresented voices within marginalized communities. A key duty of our reporting staff is to build trust with sources and the audience.
The School expects the reporter to share the story with you after publication and welcomes your comments on it.
The reporter should relate your comments truthfully, accurately and within the context you made them. The reporter should alert you if the story angle changes after the interview and they intend to use your comments in a substantially different context. A photo or video taken of you may be accompanied by a caption describing your comments or circumstances in general terms.
At the beginning of the interview, the reporter will confirm the correct spelling of your name. They should also ask you what pronouns you use. They may also ask for your job title and a plain-language description of it. Any media you provide will be credited to you, or the source you provide.
The School will grant a request for anonymity only in rare circumstances. Real names are crucially important in journalism. They provide a factual foundation for a story, a key component of audience trust. They also support accountability.
We consider potential for harm in our reporting — but we define harm narrowly and will grant anonymity only when personal injury or job loss are possible. Note: the student reporter cannot grant anonymity, but they can take a request to their instructor.
In almost every case … no. Audiences are looking for genuine, not practiced, responses that help them understand the issue at hand through plain-language descriptions and reactions. The reporter should tell you the story they are pursuing in advance of the interview. But, unless the reporter submits questions electronically (a practice we discourage), they won’t give detailed questions in advance.
We don’t intend to put you awkwardly on the spot; we won’t ask immediately for detailed information you’re unlikely to know off the top of your head. If we need detailed or technical information, we will ask for that in a followup communication.
In almost every case … no. We teach rigorous reporting methods. We welcome additional information before publication. And we hope you’ll alert us to any errors in published stories. (See below). However, we don’t offer sources the opportunity to change what they said, correct their grammar or otherwise re-state what they meant to say. Few journalists do. We don’t aim to embarrass anyone. It’s important a journalist tells a story as they see it and assembles that story with stable sources of information.
Sometimes a story doesn’t come together, despite best intentions. The reporter may not be able to find other sources to verify it, or can’t find a focused story within the original idea. It happens to all journalists — but perhaps more often to journalists who are learning. The reporter should later advise you if this is case and thank you for your time.
Accuracy, transparency and accountability are key values for the School. We encourage you to contact us to correct any factual error in our story. Corrections to stories appear here and on the story itself with a notice above the lead paragraph.
In almost every case … no. The School stands behind the content it publishes and aims to retain it as a historical record. Generally, we will not “unpublish” stories or change content for any other reason. In rare circumstances, we will consider a request to unpublish if the content of a story profoundly affects a person’s well-being. This policy aligns with guidance from the Canadian Association of Journalists and in policies at news organizations such as the Toronto Star.
It’s important to note that any change to a story on The Signal isn’t necessarily reflected in cached copies on other services.
Start with the reporter. This person is best able to answer questions about their story. You can also ask to speak to their faculty supervisor. Ask the reporter for this person’s information or contact the School Administrator. You can also contact the Director of the School.
The School’s student Handbook of Professional Practice summarizes the guidance we give our students in their reporting. Broadly, this document encourages students to strive for rigour and quality in their reporting, adhere to ethical standards in journalism professional practice and stay safe.