The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice


Mission Statement

The Paly Voice is an online publication run by students in Palo Alto High School’s Web Journalism class. The Voice strives to incorporate all aspects of student life into its coverage, with an emphasis on timely, reliable and relevant content.

We believe that as high school journalists, it is our responsibility to not only report the news, but also to interact with our community in a meaningful way through a dedication to transparency, strict adherence to journalistic ethics, and a commitment to publishing student content.

The Voice is a designated public forum for student expression and the discussion of issues of concern to its readers. Student journalists on The Paly Voice staff will publish only legally protected speech, following the legal definitions of libel, obscenity, and invasion of privacy, and respecting copyrights. Consistent with California Education Code section 48907, the staff also will refrain from publishing material (including submissions from the community) that so incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts on school premises or the violation of lawful school regulations, or the substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.

Reporters are responsible for understanding laws pertaining to journalism. The Voice staff will not participate in illegal activities in pursuit of a story.

The Voice staff will not publish images or other work without properly crediting the creators of that work and obtaining reprint/rebroadcast permissions of copyrighted work. However, The Voice may use work without obtaining proper copyright permissions provided that the nature of the use falls under Fair Use, as defined in Section 107 of the United States Copyright Act. Copyright permission for student work is implied in the relationship between The Paly Voice and its staff members. Likewise, permission is assumed for those non-staff members who submit material for publication.

Responsibility for Content

As per California Ed Code 48907, the student staff of the magazine is entirely responsible for its content; therefore, the content may not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Palo Alto High School or Palo Alto Unified School District faculty, administrators, or the Board of Education. Because school officials are not responsible for the content of the publication, The Paly Voice will not be restrained or withheld by school officials prior to distribution. Because the staff will control the content of the publication, it will therefore also take financial and legal responsibility for what is published in its print and online form. Consistent with Ed Code 48907, The Paly Voice Editors-in-Chief are not obliged to print or post an individual staff member’s or community member’s submissions.

The adviser of The Paly Voice will supervise production and offer advice to help the staff maintain professional standards of English and journalism The adviser will also maintain the other provisions as required by California Education Code section 48907. Student editors make all final content decisions and the adviser will not determine the content of the site.

Ethics Policy

The Paly Voice strives to meet the standards set by the National Scholastic Press Association’s Model Code of Ethics for High School Journalists, summarized below.

  1. Be Responsible: The Paly Voice staff strives to use our platform responsibly and in pursuit of insightful and substantive stories. The Voice staff will exercise rights protected under the First Amendment and California Ed. Code 48907, and will be advocates for student journalism rights. The Voice reserves the right to cover controversial subjects, but will strive not to perpetuate misdeeds and to demonstrate restraint in pursuing stories with little value to the Voice’s readers.
  2. Be Fair: The Voice staff will strive to approach all stories with a neutral mind and provide coverage impartially. The decision to cover or not cover a topic is solely justified by the newsworthiness of the story and relevance of the subject to The Voice’s readers. Personal staff opinions will be clearly labeled and any conflict of interests or other considerations that may impact The Voice’s reporting will be disclosed.
  3. Be Honest: Plagiarism of any kind is not tolerated on The Voice. All work published by The Voice is the original work of the writers credited. Photos and graphics will abide by The Voice’s Visual Ethics guidelines.
  4. Be Accurate: The Voice will always strive to report the entire context of a situation, taking multiple perspectives into account, and will also aim to ensure the truth of reported quotes and facts. Published information will come from first-hand reporting and reporters will aim to determine the credibility of their sources before using their statements. Reporters will aim to use a diverse range of sources in their reporting to ensure all perspectives are represented.
  5. Be Independent: The Voice staff will not accept any incentives to cover specific subjects or people, and there will never be favored treatment for advertisers or special interest groups. Student journalists who have conflict of interests with other school organizations (such as the Associated Student Body) will not be involved in any reporting on said organization.
  6. Minimize Harm: The Voice prioritizes the safety and well-being of students and strives to identify and respond to any unintended consequences of coverage. Student reporters will not intentionally compromise the safety of news sources, and editors will avoid putting student staff members in legal jeopardy or physical danger to cover a subject. The Voice staff will disclose information with purpose and tread sensitively when reporting on subjects that may impact student welfare.
  7. Be Accountable: The Voice welcomes criticism or grievances from its reader base. If issues in a story are identified, prompt corrections will be published in accordance with The Voice’s Corrections Policy. The Voice is prepared to justify all decisions, policies, and actions taken by staff.

Online Ethics

In addition to the NSPA’s Model Code of Ethics mentioned above, The Paly Voice will strive to adhere to the standards outlined in JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee’s Online Ethics Guidelines for Student Media. In addition to the aforementioned Ethics Policy, The Paly Voice maintains clearly outlined guidelines for online platforms established in both the Social Media Policy and Comment Policy.

Visual Ethics

The Voice strives to follow JEA SPRC’s guidelines for Visual Ethics. As such, reporters will not modify photos in a way that impacts the truthfulness or context of the subject. Technical enhancements are permitted as long as they do not mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects. In addition, illustrations are allowed but may not deceive readers and must be clearly labeled. All graphics published abide by The Voice’s policy on copyright, as outlined in The Voice’s Legal Advisory.

Reporting Policies


Reporters should strive to conduct in-person interviews whenever possible. If sources are unable to meet in-person, reporters may interview over phone or email. However, reporters must clearly indicate when interviews are conducted in a written manner.


The Paly Voice is committed to covering all angles and viewpoints of stories. Reporters must make an effort to ensure that readers have a clear understanding of student perspectives and that all viewpoints are represented. Upon request, sources quoted in a story will be presented a copy of their quotes for confirmation, as outlined in The Voice’s Prior Review Policy.

Internet Use

Reporters may use the Internet to do background research and contact sources, but should minimize reliance on Internet sources in reporting. Articles or online sources used in a story must be properly attributed.


The Voice strives to gather all perspectives on a subject and reporters should make an effort to represent all parts of the Palo Alto High School community. Reporters will keep diversity in mind while reporting, which includes but is not limited to ethnicity, age, and gender.

Withholding Names

For the majority of reporting, names will be used, no matter the story content. Withholding names will only occur in the rare instance where revealing a name will put the person in danger, it is legally required, or The Voice’s editors deem it appropriate on a case-by-case basis. Anonymous sources may be used given the source has provided a reasonable justification for their privacy, as determined by The Voice’s editor team. The reporter, and at least one Voice editor must know the identity of the source and the reason for their anonymity.

Press Pass Use

The Voice’s staff members are given a press pass with their name, position, and photo clearly visible. Press passes may allow reporters access to campus events for the sole purpose of covering the event. Passes will be immediately revoked if a reporter is found to be abusing their accompanying privileges.


Columns represent the viewpoint of their authors. Columns must be grounded in real, lived experiences and cannot target a specific person, entity, or system without sufficient supporting evidence.

Death of a Person on Campus

In the event a current student, staff member, or administrator dies during the school year, their death will be covered in a tasteful and respectful manner. Coverage may include a news story with factual information regarding the death and/or an obituary in memory of the person.

Artificial Intelligence

Any work obtained through any type of Artificial Intelligence software will be credited as such. No images or text created by an AI software will be published through The Paly Voice without noting its origins. The Paly Voice will also note any inspiration pulled from AI art or text if need be.

Byline Policy

Story bylines include the names of all staff writers who contributed to the story. The order of writers’ names on the bylines have no significance, they are generated randomly. Editors are not credited on specific bylines for their editing work. Signed opinions or reviews represent only the viewpoints of individual authors. Staff editorials will be published without attribution and are intended to represent the opinion of the majority of The Voice staff.

Corrections Policy

The Paly Voice staff will strive to correct any errors before publication. However, any published work found to contain a significant error, libelous information, or dangerous content, will be corrected at the discretion of The Paly Voice editors-in-chief. If a story is altered, readers will be explicitly notified of the edits made. To submit a request for correction, please submit the google form found on the Corrections page.

Letters to The Editor

If readers have comments or concerns with content published by The Voice, they are encouraged to write a letter to the editor. The Voice maintains a policy of allowing the reader to have the last word and, generally, no response to letters to the editor will be published. Once received, letters to the editor become the sole property of the Voice and may be edited for length, clarity, or accuracy. The Voice editors have the final say in publishing or not publishing reader-submitted work, and all submitted work must abide by the Voice’s policies. Letters of any length may be submitted by email to [email protected].

Commenting Policy

In service of its role as a limited public forum, the Voice encourages productive discussions on the topic of our articles produced in our comment section, and on our social media profiles and posts. All website comments are pre-moderated, and we reserve the right to delay, prevent posting, or delete any comments from the website and social media accounts, for any reason without justification. Comments found to be impersonating, doxxing, or invading the privacy of private individuals; posting libelous or obscene content; spamming posts, links to alternate websites, or self-promotional information; using bots to post content; and comments which include hate speech — defined as an attack on someone for the reason of their characteristics of a protected group, such as race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sex, gender expression, disability and disease, or immigration status — are subject to be withheld from posting or deletion. Student editors make all final decisions in regards to the publishing of comments.

Prior Review Policy

  1. Sources: The Paly Voice prides itself on following the above code of ethics to deliver fair and accurate reporting. Therefore, sources may ask to have their quotes read back to them before publication, and to ask for a review of all facts attributed to them. The Voice reserves the right to publish all on-the-record quotes as long as they are accurate. Sources may request information to be taken “off the record” if the request is made prior to the interview.. Sensitive or controversial interview content may be removed after the fact if the source has expressed a compelling and reasonable justification. The Voice’s Correction Policy applies to any changes made due to a source’s request.
  2. Administration: The Voice is grateful to be a part of a district that does not practice prior review. Although it is not common practice for the district or school administrators to review stories prior to publication, the adviser may, on a case-by-case basis, alert school officials of the general nature of the content if it is clearly expected to impact the daily function of school.

Social Media Policy

As an online publication, the Voice utilizes social media in aspects of reporting and promotion of work. While social media may be used to reach out to sources and collect interviews, the Voice staff will make it clear when sources are commenting on record, and will be transparent about their intentions and utilization of social media in their reporting. The Voice’s social media accounts will be used to promote the Voice’s reporting and will not contain staff’s personal viewpoints, unless clearly indicated as opinion. The Voice’s social media accounts may follow current and former Voice staff, Palo Alto High School organizations, Palo Alto organization, or other community members or organizations deemed relevant by The Voice staff. Following or friending an account is not an endorsement.

Advertising Policy

The Paly Voice will accept advertisements accompanied by a signed Advertising Contract and full payment, providing they do not advocate for illegal activities, or are deemed by The Voice’s editors as racist, sexist, contain hate speech, or otherwise inappropriate for The Voice’s audience.

Last Updated: 5/18/2022