The editors at the Watch have a hard job. Month after month they toil over the words and photos that make up each issue of our magazine. They slave over InDesign files and CP Stylebooks.
The Watch’s contributors’ also have a hard job. Out of nothing, they must conjure up the words and images that form the framework of our magazine.
Without these people, our magazine would not exist. Their hard work is tangible in every glossy cover that is picked up throughout our school.
But the Watch isn’t only dependent on these people. There must also be documents – boring, detailed documents. When they are working well, they are invisible. When they aren’t, our publication flounders.
This year, we focused on these documents: fixing ones that had become decrepit over time and creating new ones where none existed.
Over the years, our constitution has become disconnected from our practices.Last year, the separation between practice and policy intensified as the KSU brought forward a document from 2001.
This old agreement between the Watch and the KSU outlined how the Publishing Board should work; our constitution had a different view of the Publishing Board. With these two documents in conflict – and neither one proven to be more current – our levy was at a standstill. The resulting struggle extended over the course of the year.
We needed a new constitution.
This year, with the help of Gwendolyn Moncrieff-Gould and Adrienne Colborne, we were able to make one. Below are some important things you should know about it:
It just makes sense. Although we’ve added some new policies, as you will see below, the constitutional overhaul mostly consisted of making the document match our practices. The descriptions of the executive positions include what we actually do; the election process was ironed out. We also made the constitution grammatically correct, which is important for a journalism publication.
You all have rights under our new constitution. Before, our constitution only recognized contributors as having rights. Now, all King’s students can review our finances, vote on constitutional changes and decide whether an executive member was improperly impeached.
We’re more accountable. Under our new constitution, honouraria will be reviewed every two years by an external committee. This includes the executive honouraria and our contributor payments, both of which used to be decided by the treasurer and publisher.
We will be bringing this constitution to a General Meeting at the end of March. In an exercise of your new voting rights, you will be able to vote on the changes we’ve made.
The Code of Ethics
I’ve tried many ways to start this section, but there is no good way to say it: journalism publications need a code of ethics, and we didn’t have one.
Many of our writers are young journalists who are not completely familiar with ethical journalism. Some of our writers are not journalists at all, and have never seen a code of ethics.
By creating our own code and making it accessible on our website, we are making sure everyone has the opportunity to do ethical work. By developing our own code of ethics, and not borrowing one from another news organization, we are making sure it is applicable to the challenges faced by our reporters.
The code of ethics also contains a section aimed at the Watch executive. This will help ensure our executive has the tools they need to properly deal with ethical problems.
To sum up: we needed an ethics code. Now we have one. And hopefully it will prove to be effective in the future.
The Editorial Process
As of March 2016, the Watch does not have insurance. This means that we are not protected if someone decides to sue us for libel or defamation. And although that’s not likely to happen, it’s better to be prepared.
As a first step towards getting insurance, we needed a document that explains how we produce our publication from pitch to print. This now made, we can move forward in making sure our contributors and executive are protected.
This document also has the added bonus of being a potentially useful training tool for the Watch’s future executive. Our changeover period between executive teams is short, too short to encapsulate all aspects of our complex positions.
With more documents like these, there will be more consistency between years and the new executive will have an easier time getting started. I know our new team will produce a beautiful and informative magazine next year; I hope that these documents will make the work behind-the-scenes just a little simpler.