Our code of conduct in the Media Center outlines what is required to help build and maintain a respectful and safe working environment. Everyone under Annenberg Media is responsible for holding themselves accountable for their actions while working inside the Media Center or reporting outside of the university. We are expected to treat each other and the company at large with respect without violating our colleagues’ assigned responsibilities or personal space, as indicated by the guide below.
These cultural policies have been drawn from various university and national resources, including the existing Media Center’s Guide to Thoughtful Language and USC Annenberg Media Operations Policies. The code of conduct has been written for any constituent and stakeholder of Annenberg Media to understand how we operate as a student-run newsroom. If you have questions, concerns or suggestions for additions, consult Heran Mamo, head of the work culture team and co-editor of Neon. As a functioning newsroom within the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Annenberg Media requires its employees to communicate properly and behave appropriately with one another.
Blogging and Social Media
Understand what your online presence says about you and how it reflects on Annenberg Media. If you are regularly blogging or posting on social media on behalf of Annenberg Media or while mentioning Annenberg Media, identify yourself according to your role as a reporter, producer, editor or volunteer from Annenberg Media and state that the views, opinions and thoughts you publish on your own accounts do not reflect or represent the media organization. Speak respectfully about Annenberg Media, your colleagues and faculty members online. Unless given permission by a faculty member, you are not allowed to speak on behalf of Annenberg Media as a media organization. Under no circumstances are you to reveal confidential and proprietary information about Annenberg Media, including and not limited to breaking news stories that have yet to be published.
In the Media Center, relationships between multimedia journalists, volunteers and editors are to be professional. Sometimes personal relationships form outside of the Media Center or form as a result of working in the Media Center. How colleagues interact with each other outside of work is a private matter, but this cannot cause problems that affect production within the Media Center.
No discrimination based on age, religion, ethnicity/nationality, international status, disability, relationship, sexual orientation, or veteran status is tolerated in the Media Center. Multimedia journalists, volunteers and editors who disrespect their peers and/or faculty members in this manner will be subject to a disciplinary meeting with their respective desk editor and Christina Bellantoni, Director of the Media Center. If you’re questioning whether your actions or words might be harmful or offensive, err on the side of caution and just don’t do or say it.
Diversity (from our Operation Policies)
Because many of our student managers are required to work for us as part of a class, we do not have much control over the diversity of our staff. Indirectly, the diversity of our staff reflects the diversity of USC Annenberg, which is impacted by the choices of Annenberg Admissions and the USC Office of Admission. We have made efforts to increase intellectual diversity by reaching out to students in other schools at USC and bringing new perspectives into our reporting. We are also mindful of the diversity represented in our shows, since minority representation on screen has the potential to influence the decisions of younger students in what careers they pursue.
Please dress in business casual attire when you report to your shift in the Media Center. That means clean, professional clothing you would wear in the workplace. Jeans are acceptable. When in doubt, ask an editor or faculty member, or think about it this way: If you were asked to cover a courtroom case or interview USC interim president Dr. Wanda Austin during your shift, would your current attire be appropriate? Costumes can be worn for special and/or seasonal broadcast segments. Anchors and reporters for Annenberg TV News and See It Live are required to wear professional attire for when they are on camera. Those reporting for The Buzz or The Rundown can dress in business casual for their on-camera appearances.
Editor and Producer Selection and Hiring (from our Operation Policies)
Each semester, any USC student has the opportunity to apply for a leadership role at Annenberg Media. Current editors and producers work with Media Center faculty advisors to determine the necessary roles for the following semester, and applications are evaluated by student leaders and faculty advisors. The advisors make the final selection for each role. Many student roles are paid positions funded by USC Annenberg, subject to our Funding and Oversight policy.
Emergency Situations on Campus
For your own safety and for the safety of your colleagues, familiarize yourself with the location of the three main exits of the Media Center in case of an emergency: the clear double doors adjacent to Studio A, the door adjacent to Studio C and the clear door near the offices on the second floor of Wallis Annenberg Hall. Take the necessary and appropriate cautions for each situation regarding a shooting, earthquake or other kind of crime and natural disaster. In the case of an active shooter on campus, run from the area where the person is located and enter a safe zone where you are not surrounded by glass, and barricade the door. Call DPS Emergency at (213)-740-4321. If you are experiencing an earthquake, drop down and take cover under a desk or a table. Stay indoors until the shaking stops and stay away from furniture and equipment that might fall on you. USC offers routine active shooter training and yearly earthquake drills on campus to prepare for such emergencies.
If you need to miss your shift due to a family emergency, please notify your editor, producer or faculty adviser. You are not required to give any details when explaining your absence. If someone else who works in the Media Center tells you they are experiencing a family emergency, please only inform their editor, producer or faculty member they report to regularly. Respect their privacy and leave out details they wouldn’t be comfortable with you sharing. Stating they have a family emergency will suffice.
As multimedia journalists, volunteers and editors in the Media Center, what you get out of your shifts in terms of production directly reflects what you put into your shifts. What you can achieve in four hours differs from person to person, but it should demonstrate hard work and a dedication to storytelling by reporting on, assisting, workshopping and/or finishing a project or projects at the end of your scheduled time in the Media Center each week. Attend all of your shifts throughout the semester, and notify your respective desk editor in advance if you will be missing a shift. Communication is key in working at a newsroom and should be reflected in our productivity, which includes regularly talking to each other on Trello and Slack with story updates.
Safety while Reporting On/Off Campus
Alertness is imperative for working in the Media Center. When reporting on a nearby shooting, earthquake or similar kind of emergency situation, proceed with caution and be safe at all times. Do not jeopardize your well-being to get a story. You might want to go live on social media during a drill, while one of your colleagues might want to hide from the danger presented. Everyone has their own way of reacting to these situations and that is okay, but please be mindful of your own safety and the safety of your colleagues. When reporting in an unfamiliar and/or unsafe area, travel with a reporting partner or team. Stick together at all times, and do not attempt to travel to these areas at night unless you are instructed to by an editor, producer or faculty member, or it is specified in a reporting assignment.
The Media Center has a no tolerance policy on sexual harassment and assault. According to USC’s Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault policy, sexual harassment involves unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; or any verbal or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature when:
Submission to such conduct is either explicitly or implicitly made a condition of an individual’s employment, appointment, admission or academic evaluation, or used as a basis for evaluation in personnel decisions or academic evaluations; or
Such conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, offensive or otherwise adverse working or learning environment. Refer to the university’s policy for specific examples of sexual harassment.
If you are experiencing any of the following with a fellow colleague inside or outside of the physical confines of the Media Center, please report to USC’s Office of Equity and Diversity/Title IX. Additionally, notify a student manager, our executive editor and/or faculty member you are most comfortable with speaking to. The Office of Equity and Diversity can be reached at (213)-740-5086 or email@example.com. The office of the Title IX Coordinator, Gretchen Means, can be reached at (213)-821-8298 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suicide can affect members of the Media Center, whether they have had suicidal thoughts themselves or have been recently affected by the suicide of someone on campus, in their family or peer group. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or fear that someone in the Media Center may be suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and tell a faculty member, editor of your respective desk or close friend you are most comfortable speaking to. You are not alone. Students can also visit the Engemann Student Health Center on campus to receive counseling. Student Counseling Services include individual therapy, crisis support, psychiatric services and consultation for students who want to reach out to a student in distress, according to USC Student Health.
Suicide Reporting (from our Operation Policies)
Suicide is a public health issue, not a crime, and bad reporting on suicide can lead to additional loss of life. In general, we will not report on suicide unless it involves a well-known or important person in the campus community or is significantly disruptive to regular campus activities. If the person is not already well-known, we will take extra steps to protect their identity by not publishing or broadcasting a name. Coverage of suicide should not describe the method and specific details or include photos or video of the location or of grieving friends and family.
Thoughtful Language (from our Guide to Thoughtful Language)
Our guiding principle in the Media Center is that we should treat everyone we cover with thoughtfulness and sensitivity. We must exercise care whenever we consider including descriptions of age, disability, ethnicity and race, gender or sexuality. Likewise, we must be cautious in considering the use of obscenities, profanities and vulgarities, which should remain rare. In your daily work for the Media Center, regardless of the medium, you should consult with a senior member of the student staff and your faculty advisers whenever you face coverage and content decisions in any of these broad areas. When in doubt, ask. And always remember the people at the core of your stories. Treat them as you would yourself like to be treated. Please refer to the Guide to Thoughtful Language for further guidance on thoughtful and sensitive reporting.
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity
- Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network
- Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
- USC Student Health Counseling Services
- USC Annenberg Media Resources
- Media Center Guide to Thoughtful Language
- The Balance Careers - Blogging and Social Media Policy Sample
- The Balance Careers - Images of Employees Wearing Business Casual Dress for Work
- National Geographic
- Society for Human Resource Management
- USC Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Policy