The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

Editorial Policy

Drops of Ink is a class for credit as well as an extracurricular activity at Libertyville High School for student journalists, graphic designers, and photographers, as well as any student looking to improve on or gain experience in journalism, communication and accountability. Students interested in joining Drops of Ink need to enroll in the course and be accepted through an application process.

PURPOSE: Drops of Ink is a student-written, edited and produced high school publication. Our publication functions as a service to the school and greater community of Libertyville, first and foremost delivering open-minded, informative content that is relevant to our readership. While not our primary motive, Drops of Ink also looks to provide entertainment to our audience. We aim to challenge readers to see different perspectives and gain knowledge of the world around us.

CONTENT: Drops of Ink operates under a designated public forum where student editors make all final content decisions. Therefore, Drops of Ink is not reviewed by anyone in the District 128 or Libertyville High School administration prior to publication, but it is expected to abide by the school board’s publications policy. The right to make any editorial changes or operating decisions rests with the editorial board, and more specifically, the Editor(s)-in-Chief.

All magazine content goes through a story selection process. Staff members come up with ideas to pitch at an issue meeting at the beginning of the publication cycle. Any ideas verbally proposed in these meetings are noted and sent to the the editorial board for further review. The board then picks the ideas that will be published in the magazine, designating other pitches that are not picked for future issues or online-only publication. All content is proposed and selected by staff members, though the adviser reviews these selections. Topics that are more controversial in nature will be discussed with the editorial board to decide how the staff will proceed with the story. Meetings with administration and department heads will be handled as necessary. A typical magazine issue may contain 2-3 news pieces, 4-6 features, 3-4 opinion, and 2-4 sports features. Once story assignments are chosen, any changes will be at the discretion of the adviser and editorial board. Website content is also proposed by staff but will only need to be approved by the adviser and Editor(s)-in-Chief.

Drops of Ink tries to perform every interview for stories in person in order to get the most authentic responses. Because sources are not always available to conduct in-person interviews and DOI staff members have very busy schedules, interviews are occasionally carried out via email, telephone or text message. In order to maintain transparency with readers, the attribution will include a note explaining the circumstances of the interview if it was not in-person.


In-person interview: “Having the semester end before break is good for everyone because you get that closure before break so everyone gets a break. Not only the fact of getting a break, but the fact that hopefully [students] do better when [they] do not have that two-week gap,” Dr. Scott stated.

Not in-person interview: “I can use [my Chromebook] whenever I need to without going to a resource center like the MASH or the DIL,” sophomore Kevin Loumeau stated in an interview via email.

Drops of Ink abides by copyright laws for photos both in print and online. This means that pictures that we did not take or receive with permission from others are used under Creative Commons licenses; Fair Use policy; or found through an advanced Google search that adjusts the “usage rights” results. The photo credit will specify how each picture was located and credit the appropriate users and sources, as necessary. Should another source desire to use a photo taken by a Drops of Ink photographer, please contact [email protected] or the photographer directly for information and usage rights.

Drops of Ink will strive for accurate and balanced reporting, subject to the constraints of deadlines. Suggestions regarding the paper’s content can be submitted to the Editor(s)-in-Chief or the adviser via telephone, mail or email.

PRIOR REVIEW: Drops of Ink does not abide by a prior review policy. Only the adviser will look at the publication prior to distribution. Changes to a publication will rest solely with the editorial board, unless the material is deemed harmful or libelous by the adviser. Sources will be able to go over their quotes with a reporter at the time of the interview at the reporter’s initiative, though quotes will not be changed at the discretion of the interviewee. Sources will not be granted access to a story prior to publication on any basis, including that of fact-checking. If the source feels that fact-checking is necessary, the reporter can go over the source’s quotes and the information used in the article. The full story will not be edited outside of the reporter, editorial board and adviser. Drops of Ink does this to ensure the integrity of the story is maintained and that staff members’ voices, not the sources’, are telling the story, honestly and unbiased.

STAFF WRITING: Drops of Ink staffers will attempt to produce the most well-written, accurate, balanced and informative articles possible. Community members and other readers should be aware, however, that the high school staff members are learners of the journalistic process and are journalists in training. The staff members aim to meet professional journalistic standards but cannot reasonably be expected to do so in all situations.

COVID-19 AND E-LEARNING: In the case that in-person classes cannot take place, Drops of Ink will continue to work and publish in an e-learning situation. Interviews will primarily be held via phone or video chat, and, if needed, through email or text, but in-person interviews are preferred if safe and possible. Photographers will attempt to take in-person photos, however, we will prioritize the health and safety of our staff members and the community. In the case that health and safety are at risk, photographers will reach out to their subjects and ask for them to provide photos or will create an illustration/infographic.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Drops of Ink defines a conflict of interest as a student on staff writing or photographing a story or event in which they are involved in. This includes but is not limited to: classes, clubs and teams, especially for staff members who hold a leadership position in their respective activity. Conflicts of interest can also occur if a student writes or photographs a friend or family member. In an effort to be as unbiased as possible, in general, students will not be allowed to work on assignments when they have a conflict of interest. However, the decision whether or not a student is able to report on a topic will be at the discretion of the Editor(s)-in-Chief and adviser. Drops of Ink takes the issue of conflict of interest very seriously and in the event that a conflict of interest is brought up, it will be dealt with accordingly by Editor(s)-in-Chief and adviser.

While Drops of Ink will avoid using staff members as sources, there are some instances in which it is inevitable. In cases that Drops of Ink reports on something a staff member is a part of, we will be transparent in doing so, specifying that staff member’s position and affiliation with DOI.

BYLINES AND EDITORIALS: All articles, photographs and page layouts will carry a byline, except in the case of a staff editorial. Unsigned staff editorials appearing in the commentary section represent the opinion of the Drops of Ink staff as a whole. The staff is comprised of students from each grade level and spans a wide range of opinions. Prior to the staff editorial being written, there is a class-wide discussion, during which all members have an opportunity to express their thoughts on a specified subject and are encouraged to do so. Individual authors of these pieces do not place their personal opinions in the story; they merely reflect the staff’s thoughts. However, individual columns and opinion articles that are signed will be denoted. All opinions in columns are solely the author’s opinions and do not represent those of the Drops of Ink staff and their advertisers, nor the District 128 staff, school board, student body or community.

ANONYMOUS SOURCES: Drops of Ink will strive for the most accurate reporting possible throughout the story writing process. As a result, the publication puts a priority on sources who agree to have their names published. However, should a source desire to remain anonymous, they must present their grade level and reason that they want to remain anonymous at the time of the interview.

The matter of anonymity will be discussed between the Editor(s)-in-Chief and the writer, and a decision will be made as to whether to use anonymous sources for the story; the source will then be notified of this decision. This decision will be made based on the well-being of the student should his/her information be published with his/her name. Drops of Ink will endeavor to include the name and identity of all sources if the reporter and Editor(s)-in-Chief believe that doing so will not result in endangerment, harassment or any other form of undue physical, mental or emotional anguish for the source. Anonymous sources will be used if there is no other way for the writer to obtain that information or if the source or information is vital to the story itself. Should the information given by an anonymous source be verified by three other named sources, the anonymous source will be excluded from the article. Quote attributions will include information regarding the source’s age, reason for anonymity, and other information relevant to the topic of the story.

Sources who remain anonymous enter a confidentiality agreement with the story’s writer. Under no circumstances will the source be named to the publication adviser for the safety of both parties.

While the Editor-in-Chief(s) will be made aware of the source’s identity, he/she/they will uphold the same degree of confidentiality as the writer. At the same time, sources will agree to keep their own identity a secret. Drops of Ink requests that anonymous sources do not reveal themselves to others before or after their information is published. Should a source reveal himself/herself, the Drops of Ink editorial board will decide whether to name the person in the article or have the information cut entirely.

RESPONSE TO CONTROVERSY: We attempt to include a diverse assortment of voices, topics and perspectives in our work; consequently there may be times when controversy arises in response to our work. When this occurs, Drops of Ink will review the situation and feedback received, and will consider the appropriate steps to take moving forward. Any official statement in response to controversy or complaints will be released by Drops of Ink; staff members are discouraged from posting about any potential controversy on their personal social media accounts. We will do our best to address any controversy quickly and if necessary, work with the school administration to properly handle the situation.

EDITORIAL BOARD AND ADVISER: The editorial board is comprised solely of student editors;  all of whom have at least one year of experience on staff and must apply for their position at the end of the school year prior to taking on that role the following school year. The editorial board is in charge of all content and many of the decisions regarding the publication. As well as fulfilling the role of a staff member, editors have the added responsibility of reviewing others’ works, making content decisions and meeting to discuss issues or procedures within the staff. By meeting on a weekly or regular basis, the editorial board shall interpret and enforce this editorial policy.

The adviser is a paid staff member and/or teacher of District 128 and Libertyville High School; he or she is in charge of the staff, as Drops of Ink is a class period during the day. The adviser, in his or her role as a teacher, will educate staff on proper journalism ethics and act as a reference for any concerns regarding journalism, ethics, legal issues and more.

OTHER RESOURCES: In addition to the adviser, Drops of Ink staff members may reach out to other organizations such as the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) for legal advice concerning censorship or other issues. According to their website (, “the Student Press Law Center is an advocate for student First Amendment rights, for freedom of online speech, and for open government on campus. The SPLC provides information, training and legal assistance at no charge to student journalists and the educators who work with them.” This nonprofit and nonpartisan organization will be used for a reference for the Drops of Ink staff, editorial board and adviser when needed.

STAFF EXPECTATIONS: Drops of Ink is considered a co-curricular at LHS, meaning that while it’s an accredited class, it also is part of the Student Activities branch at school. Because of this, those electing to be staff members are required to meet the school’s Code of Conduct (which can be found in your Student Handbook). As the code’s philosophy states, “While involvement in these activities is voluntary, it is also a privilege, and students choosing to participate take on extended responsibilities as special representatives of their school and community.” This especially applies to DOI, as staff members take on a particularly visible role by publishing and distributing their writing to the school and community at large. Students found to be in violation of the code will face consequences in accordance with the Student Handbook; these could include, for example, removal from an editor position or revoking a story assignment or magazine pages. Consequences would not directly impact a student’s grade in the class.

In addition, Drops of Ink staffers are asked to recognize the following pledge: “Recognizing the benefits of staff membership for Drops of Ink, and realizing the importance of maintaining the integrity of our organization, I hereby agree to the following terms: 1. I will honor my commitment by being drug- and alcohol-free. 2. If I am involved in any conduct or action that negatively impacts upon my commitment to DOI and its mission, I can be held accountable according to the athletic and activities Code of Conduct.”

ISSUE DISTRIBUTION: Issues will be distributed before school at the building’s different entrances on scheduled distribution days. Issues can also be found in resource centers, as well as in the main office, LSTs, and newsstands by the main entrance, studio theatre entrance, auditorium doors and across from the library. Newsmagazines will be distributed every 3-5 weeks, unless specified otherwise by the adviser and/or editorial board. Magazines subscriptions are available on the LHS webstore for $20 per school year (seven issues).

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Letters will be printed as submitted unless any portion of the letter is in poor taste, libelous or unnecessary to the understanding of the writer’s message. Letters should be no more than 350 words in length (typed, double-spaced); the staff of Drops of Ink reserves the right to edit any letters longer than 350 words. Submissions must include the writer’s name and phone number; unsigned letters will not be printed. Drops of Ink will withhold the writer’s name upon request only if circumstances warrant its absence, and only at the discretion of the Editor(s)-in-Chief. Drops of Ink will make every attempt to verify all factual statements in letters to the editor, but will ultimately expect the author to have authenticated all statements of fact. Opinions expressed in a letter to the editor do not represent the opinions of the Drops of Ink staff, their advertisers, or District 128. Letters will be printed as space permits. Letters can be emailed to the Editors-in-Chief(s) at [email protected] and [email protected].

FREELANCE WORK: Freelance writing, photography, layout designs and any other form of work for Drops of Ink will be accepted, but priority for placement in print is given to those articles assigned to staff members. Freelance workers and their pieces, as they are not a part of the Drops of Ink staff, will not reflect the opinions of the staff, editorial board, or D128 members unless otherwise stated. Each freelance piece byline will be marked as “Guest Writer” on and in any printed issue. Articles and photos will be published at the discretion of the editorial board or the adviser.

DEATHS: The death of a student, faculty/staff member or community member will be treated as a news item only when the situation is warranted. Due to the limited space in the newspaper, not all deaths will be covered; however, an online story will be posted when possible. Occasionally, a death will warrant a feature or editorial coverage, in which case, a news item may or may not appear alongside the article. This decision is at the editorial board’s discretion.

PROFANITY: Drops of Ink will typically refrain from the use of profanity except in direct quotes and only when the meaning or connotation of the direct quote warrants its use. Writers are able to use profanity but at the discretion of the editors. Gratuitous use of profanity is always discouraged.

ERRORS: The Drops of Ink staff regrets all factual errors. Any factual statement requiring a correction must be brought to the attention of the Editor(s)-in-Chief. Corrections will appear in following printed issues, if printed, or will be changed directly, if online. Online corrections will be noted so readers are aware of the change.

ADVERTISING: The student editorial board of Drops of Ink accepts advertisements of varying sizes (half and full-page) for its print issues and advertisements of a set size for its website. Print ad rates vary from $75-$170. In-house advertisements will be offered at the reduced rate of $37.50 for half-page ads and $85 for full-page ads. Online ads are available for $75 per month. Ads are accepted in a variety of electronic formats and as attachments in email in most cases. Student editors reserve the right to reject any proposed advertisement for any reason. Students on staff also reserve the right to make changes to ads in an effort to make the advertisement more consistent with our magazine’s design policy. Advertisements that will not be accepted may include, but are not limited to, advertisements for any products or services that would be illegal for minors to possess or use. The remedy for any cancelled advertisement shall be limited to a refund of any prepaid fees. Advertising that appears is not necessarily endorsed by District 128, the school board, the publication or its staff members, editorial board or adviser.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Drops of Ink social media accounts will be used to promote the magazine and website, publicize recent content and engage followers. Current social media accounts include Facebook (“Libertyville High School Drops of Ink”), Instagram (@lhsdoi) and Twitter (@lhsdoi and @lhsdoisports). These accounts can be accessed by the Editor(s)-in-Chief, social media editor, and other designated staff members. All content will be posted by students promoting staff articles or contests run by the editorial board. Content published on these accounts are held to the same standards as all other reporting and will cover the same procedures should errors be published. The accounts will remain objective and professional when handling content and follower engagements, including, but not limited to, contests, games and competitions. The editorial board has the right to remove, report, and block any comments that are deemed to be outside the Drops of Ink purpose.

FUNDING: Funding and the publication budget comes largely from the publication’s student activities account. Additional funding comes from the sale of advertisements and subscriptions. The bulk of the publication’s spending is on printing costs for the newsmagazine, in addition to website hosting and maintenance fees. Funds not used at the end of each school year will be put towards future issue productions or other staff-related costs.

CONTACT: Send all comments, questions and concerns to [email protected]. If necessary, these comments will be brought to the attention of the editorial board at the next meeting and handled within the deadlines of the issue cycle.

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The student news publication of Libertyville High School
Editorial Policy