The Collegiate Times, Blacksburg's oldest newspaper, was established in 1903 at Virginia Tech. It began as a sports-oriented newspaper, but has grown into a student-run, weekly publication covering campus news, features, sports and opinions. Collegiatetimes.com started in 1998 as a complement to the print edition of the Collegiate Times and has since grown to include breaking news, multimedia and dynamic databases. The website, which sees over 1.2 million pageviews annually, is staffed by dedicated student journalists, web developers and multimedia producers in 365 Squires Student Center on the Virginia Tech campus.
The paper is published on Tuesday of the academic year, except during exams and breaks, and has a circulation of 5,000. The Collegiate Times maintains its offices in 365 Squires Student Center. Collegiate Times advertising is managed by MediaMate.
The Collegiate Times holds membership in the Associated Collegiate Press and the Virginia Press Association.
Policies and Procedures
The Collegiate Times is Virginia Tech’s independent, student-run newspaper. It conducts operations following the mission below:
- To deliver timely, accurate, relevant news to the Virginia Tech community and the New River Valley.
- To provide students looking to pursue or gain experience in the field of journalism with a place to do so. This includes providing them with the tools they need to succeed and helping them learn from their mistakes when they make them; showing them the ins and outs of what it takes to run both a news outlet and a small business; going out of our way to ensure they have the best experiences possible and listening to constructive criticism about how the paper’s operations can be improved.
- To advocate for the freedom of the press and be looked to as a leader for news delivery in the Virginia Tech and New River Valley communities.
Impartiality means reporting, editing, and delivering the news honestly, fairly, objectively, and without opinion or bias.
Credibility is the greatest asset of any news medium, and impartiality is the greatest source of credibility.
To provide the most complete report, a news organization must not just cover the news, but uncover it. It must follow the story wherever it leads, regardless of any preconceived ideas on what might be most newsworthy.
The pursuit of truth is a noble goal of journalism. But the truth is not always apparent or known immediately. Journalists’ role is therefore not to determine what they believe at that time to be the truth and reveal only that to their readers, but rather to report as completely and impartially as possible all verifiable facts so that readers can, based on their own knowledge and experience, determine what they believe to be the truth.
When a news organization delivers both news and opinions, the impartiality and credibility of the news organization can be questioned. To minimize this as much as possible there needs to be a sharp and clear distinction between news and opinion, both to those providing and consuming the news.
CODE OF ETHICS
The CT follows the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics (https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp). We also keep our public image in mind and recognize that our outlet is one that will best succeed if we work together to make ethical decisions regarding our operations.
CT staffers will be exposed to this document and the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics through a training module they will be asked to complete prior to getting stories published. Staffers will take a quiz on the material presented in this module that will include a question of whether or not the staffer agrees to abide by the ethical standards set forth by the Society of Professional Journalists and abide by the terms set forth in this document. Management will keep a paper trail of who has completed the module and who has not.
We encourage our staff members to be active on social media and we provide the following guidelines to them for their social media usage:
- Remember that whatever you post on social media represents you and the CT
- Think before you speak and be respectful.
- Regardless of whether or not you indicate your affiliation with the CT in your bio or elsewhere, your byline still exists both in print and on our website. It doesn’t take much to connect you with the CT.
- Be professional and remember that whatever you say is on the internet forever.
- While you have the freedom to design your profile however you see fit, we recommend that your avatar, bio, etc… accurately reflect who you are. If choose to indicate your affiliation with the CT in your bio, please add a disclaimer along the lines of “Tweets/thoughts/opinions are my own.”
- If reaching out to sources via social media for a story/interview, you must identify yourself as a reporter for the CT as you would in person
- We invite reporters to respond to factually incorrect claims about events or occurrences on campus by responding with claims backed up by facts.
- CT members are allowed, and even encouraged, to share articles and/or work from other publications on social media.
- Staff members are encouraged to offer constructive criticism of others’ work in a respectful manner and are always welcome to promote their own work or the work of others via their social media outlets.
- You may respond to individuals who contact you on social media but do so respectfully. If you are not the best contact for the person to reach out to, send them in the direction of the person who is.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
If an issue is not clear-cut, please refer to your section editor(s) and/or the management team (managing editors and editor-in-chief) for the best ways to act regarding possible conflicts of interest – we are all willing to help.
Section editors may discipline and/or terminate staffers who violate these policies but are encouraged to have in-depth discussions about the issue(s) that occurred and allow reporters to learn from their mistakes.
The editor-in-chief will act as the final decision maker of any terminations and/or what qualifies as a conflict of interest.
The guidelines are as follows:
- No staff member outside of the opinions section may participate in any of SGA’s three branches or in administrative capacity. Opinions staff members may have small roles in the organization as long as they are fully disclosed to both the section editor and editor-in-chief.
- Staff members should refrain from being the subject of news stories:
- Refrain from large involvement in demonstrations such as protests or any controversies. The staff member will have no legal protection from the CT unless covering the event for the CT and recognizes that personal participation could affect the writer’s ability to cover similar events in the future. When participating in a personal capacity, staff members should also refrain from wearing any CT merchandise.
- Staff members and editors are permitted to attend demonstrations.
- While on duty, writers have a responsibility to stay out of the action and let those who are actively participating in the protest take the main floor.
- The CT encourages staff members to participate in community activities and/or donate to charities so long as doing so would not interfere with the writers’ subject areas.
- During elections, staff members may not lobby for candidates, sign petitions for candidates or participate in any campaign activities.
- If approached by other media organizations for comments or interviews, writers must talk to their section editors and editor-in-chief first.
- Signing petitions, politically focused or not, could pose a conflict of interest and staff members should refrain from doing so. Any questions about whether it is permissible to sign these petitions should be directed to the section editor and editor-in-chief.
- Writers must adhere to the CT’s full-disclosure policy and make their section editors aware of any and all affiliations with outside organizations to avoid conflicts of interest
- Staff members must notify their section editors and the editor-in-chief of their interest(s) in applying for major leadership positions in other organizations prior to submitting the applications to avoid conflicts arising.
- Writers may not cover any story that involves a source or affiliation with anyone or anything in that story.
- Under no circumstances should writers cover the events of another organization they are members of.
- Under no circumstances should writers interview friends or roommates as sources.
- Building relationships with sources is permitted, but remember to do so in the most professional manner possible.
- Staff members are permitted to work for other campus or community news publications, but the following rules stand:
- Writers must not write about the same topics for both publications
- For example, a news reporter with a construction beat may not write opinions pieces about construction projects for another outlet.
- Staff members are not allowed to work for a publication with a stated partisan agenda.
- This alternate publication policy does not apply to coursework and the CT will never infringe on a student’s ability to succeed in their academics.
- Writers must not write about the same topics for both publications
- If staffers are working on a project for class that has the possibility of being published in the CT:
- Fully disclose that the project may be published
- Under no circumstances should a staffer represent themselves as a reporter for the CT if the project is solely for academic/course purposes – it is fraudulent to do so.
- If staffers are working on a project for a class that has no possibility of being published in the CT, it is imperative that the staffers make sources aware of the fact that it is not for CT purposes – only for class.
CT journalists should never use their position at the paper to gain personal advantages. Thus, staffers should never accept gifts or any contribution from any source that is not available to the general public. If offered to the reporter, the staff member should politely return the gift.
Any staff member who engages in plagiarism will be terminated and their content will either be corrected or removed from the CT’s website.
It is also not permissible to pass off someone else’s ideas or reporting efforts as your own. Staffers are encouraged to dig for information, but any and all sources for information must be clarified and cited both online and in print.
- Example: If including a fact published in a Roanoke Times piece, the writer must make it clear by saying “According to the Roanoke Times,” (or something similar) and hyperlinking the article in their piece for online purposes.
Quoting large portions of an original story/work that is being used as a source for information is prohibited.
The Collegiate Times will not publish any anonymous or off-the-record information unless under the direst of circumstances that convince the editor-in-chief that this is absolutely necessary. Sources going off-the-record is discouraged, but if the reporter feels that the source doing so could help the reporter track down other leads and/or stories, it is permissible if handled with extreme care and caution. Sources may not reveal information and claim afterward that it was all off the record. If the information has been revealed without a disclaimer beforehand, it’s all on the record. Reporters should never promise anonymity. If a source asks to be anonymous, the reporter must make it clear that any anonymity is up to the discretion of the editor-in-chief, and the reporter must follow up with the EIC to determine if remaining anonymous will be permissible. Staffers are strongly encouraged to conduct interviews either in person or over the phone and avoid sending lists of questions via email to improve authenticity of answers. Staffers are also required to have at least two sources per story (excluding entertainment reviews).
Though the CT remains dedicated to providing accurate news above all else, mistakes are going to happen. These errors should be dealt with in the following manners:
- Calls for corrections/errors should be addressed quickly and efficiently – not ignored.
- Staffers should treat these errors as opportunities to learn from mistakes and should avoid getting defensive with those who called them out on their errors.
- The editor-in-chief will serve as the final authority on whether a correction needs to be made or not.
- If corrections are made, they will run in print in the following week’s paper and will be noted with the corresponding story online in an editor’s note.
COMMUNITY GUIDELINES: COMMENTS AND POSTS
We encourage our readers to share their thoughts and opinions with us and with their fellow community members. The guidelines outlined below are intended to facilitate healthy conversations and debates while allowing a level of discussion that respects everyone’s views:
- Be respectful. We will not tolerate any comments or posts that insult others on the basis of race, class, gender, religion, sexual preferences, disabilities, etc…
- Be who you are. We will remove any posts or comments that we determine are coming from spam accounts.
- Be mindful of others’ privacy. We will not tolerate any posts or comments that violate the privacy of others.
We will not edit anyone’s comments, but we reserve the right to remove any content affiliated with our posts that violates the above guidelines. Anyone who thinks comments or content violate the above guidelines should email email@example.com.
If you comment was removed and you don’t know why, our editor-in-chief will be happy to discuss it with you.
CT staffers should follow the above guidelines when commenting or interacting with CT content and should follow the social media policies outlined for them as well.
CT staffers should refrain from engaging in debates or conversations with commenters. If the staffer feels the comment requires a response, the staffer should consult the editor-in-chief before taking any further action.
Address: 365 Squires Student Center, 290 College Ave., Blacksburg, VA 24061
News Tips: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Phone: 540-231-9865
Advertising & Classifieds: All advertising in the Collegiate Times is managed by MediaMate.
MediaMate Email: email@example.com
MediaMate Phone: 888-897-7711
Letters to the Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Reprints: Visit our reprints website to order photos.
- Tori Walker
- Editor in Chief
- Abbigale Evans
- Lexi Solomon
- Managing Editors
- Email: email@example.com
- Momiji Barlow
- News Editor
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Claire Castagno
- Devin Shepard
- Amber Williams
- Sports Editors
- Molly Dye
- Olivia Ferrare
- Lifestyles Editors
- Julianne Joyce
- Abby Durrer
- Opinions Editors
- Ethan Candelario
- Anisha Kohli
- Photo Editors
- Sean Lyons
- Savannah Webb
- Copy Editors
- Celina Ng
- Sydney Johnson
- Design Editors
- Charlie Setash
- Business Manager