Expectations and Practices for Types of Articles
Articles are typically around 800 words, but both shorter and longer pieces are normal.
Interview process and ethics
If a writer is working on an article that is controversial or pertains to any specific group, we strongly encourage the writer to contact individuals on all sides of a given issue including individuals that belong to the group in question.
Recording interviews is highly encouraged to avoid misquoting or misrepresenting the interviewee when writing the article. The writer must ask the interviewee for consent before recording each interview.
Anything that the interviewee says off-the-record will not be included in the published article.
In almost all cases, we do not publish articles written by anonymous authors or articles that include anonymous sources, unless anonymity is necessary to protect the writer or source. This is in order to maintain high standards of accountability.
Ex. We would grant anonymity for an interview with an undocumented student in an article about immigration, but not for an opinion that a student does not want to be publicly associated with
Prior review is the practice of allowing a source interviewed for an article to read and “review” the article before it goes to print. In almost all cases the Quest does not allow prior review, and we ask that our writers not tell their sources that they will receive it. However, we do allow sources to view anything they said or wrote that will appear in the article prior to publishing.
What is a ‘neutral’ position?
When reporting on, interviewing for, and writing the article, the writer should occupy the role of journalist and leave behind or minimize any other role they may have in the situation. If the writer believes they will be unable to do so, we will find another writer to cover the event. This is primarily a matter of personal discretion, but if a pattern emerges of the writer allowing other roles to affect their reporting, the Editorial Board will have a conversation with the writer about the observed pattern.
Writers should make a conscious effort to remain objective in the reporting and writing of news pieces.
Objective is defined as “(of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.”
We understand the complexity of notions like “objectivity” and “bias,” and the many ways these guidelines can be interpreted. As such, we expect writers and editors alike to practice good judgment and engage in critical thought about their own potential biases.
Writers should avoid covering issues or organizations they are closely affiliated with.
For pieces directly pertaining to certain groups (especially minority or underrepresented groups), the writer must prioritize including the voices of that group in the article.
Leaving out information or not acknowledging places where information sources are lacking is considered a form of bias.
If an editor feels an article is biased, they must discuss this with the writer before making changes. If a writer feels an editor is being unfair in their consideration of bias, they are encouraged to discuss this with the editors.
We accept opinion pieces from any perspective on any issue. Opinion pieces should be submitted under the label of opinion so the editors do not edit them as news pieces. While strong opinions and critiques of groups are accepted, ad hominem attacks will not be published.
While we try to prioritize news articles in the Quest, we do accept personal reflection essays on writers’ experiences with a given event or issue. We also encourage writers who prefer this style of article to contact the Grail or Receipts, which are both conducive platforms for more creative pieces.
Editorials are written by members of the editorial staff. Editorials are only published when we lack enough content from writers to fill the week’s issue.
Other (comics, crosswords, events, etc.)
The Events Calendar is compiled each week by an editor, or a writer, based on the events posted on events.reed.edu and other scheduled seminars and events on campus for that week. Additional events should be submitted to the email listed at the bottom of the Events Calendar.
Comics and drawings may be submitted directly to an editor or by sliding the comic under the door of the Quest office, GCC-047. We accept both single panel comics or small drawings and comic strips.
The crossword may be submitted either to an editor via email or by sliding a hand-drawn crossword, complete with clues and their answers, under the door of the Quest office, GCC-047. For those with no prior experience interested in creating crosswords, we will provide mentoring.
The Editing Process
All pieces are due on Mondays at midnight.
If a writer is reporting on an event that happened on Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday, we will accept their article by Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. Likewise, if a writer is waiting on a response from someone they intend to interview or obtain additional information from, we will accept their article by Wednesday at 5:00 p.m.
Editorials and news pieces are content and copy edited.
Basic editing process
At the writers’ meeting on Tuesdays, each writer is assigned one primary editor.
The following Sunday, a day before the article is due, the primary editor will contact their writers to follow up on the status of the article and if the writer needs any additional assistance.
Each news piece is edited twice for content edits by two different editors.
Minor content edits focus on awkward wording, confusing sentences, repetitive phrasing, appropriate attribution and citation, and fact checking.
For major edits, see below under writer input.
At the writer’s request, content edits may be made as suggestions in Google Drive so the writer may review the edits before they are finalized.
If the editors believe the article is biased or needs additional detail, we will first reach out to the writer to ask them if they are able to make the change. If they are unable to, we will make the proposed changes with their permission.
Major edits typically occur:
- When one side of a controversial issue is over or underrepresented in an article
- When the article omits key information about the event or subject
- When the article lacks a conclusion
- When the article offers the writer’s opinion in the context of a news piece
Opinion pieces are only copy edited.
This means that the only changes made are grammar, spelling, and punctuation changes, and the content of the piece remains unchanged.
If the opinion piece contains a personal or ad hominem attack, we will send the piece back to the writer and ask them to remove said attack. We will not reject an op-ed for this attack unless the writer refuses to remove it.
For the most part, personal reflections follow the same editing rules as news pieces, with a few exceptions:
- Personal reflections allow for more of the writer’s opinion than news pieces
- The editors will edit out highly prosaic language to maintain the journalistic tone of the piece
- These edits are generally made in consultation with the writer
Editorials are typically written by one or two members of the Editorial Board. These pieces are content edited by two other members of the Board, and are then copy edited by a third member. Editorials follow the same editing rules as news pieces.
Other (comics, crosswords, events, etc.)
Comics, crosswords, events, press releases, advertisements, etc. are only copy edited, and follow the same rules as opinions.
Starting in Spring 2018, the Editorial Board is making an effort to provide feedback to writers, especially at the writer’s request. Feedback to writers may be provided through suggestions and comments on Google Drive or through a hard copy written feedback form.