Watchdog Staff Manual


As of 7-26-2023


Overview and relationship to Bellevue College

The Watchdog is the official student publication of Bellevue College, and as such, it exists for the    purpose of providing the students, faculty, staff, and administration with unbiased coverage of news with high relevance to the college. The staff reserves the right to make decisions without seeking the approval of the administration in order to ensure that The Watchdog is preserved as an independent voice on campus and in the community. It offers an educational resource to students interested in journalism and the staff strives to create diverse, unique content that will not only inform the community, but also promote learning and understanding.

  • College policy assures that the newspaper will not be manipulated as a public relations instrument of the College.
  • College policy recognizes the responsibility of the newspaper to publish fair and responsible news and editorial coverage.
  • The Watchdog does not interest itself in the off-campus occurrences of students, faculty, or administrators unless such occurrences have immediate interest and/or relevance to on-campus function.
  • The Watchdog may, however, include off-campus news copy and press release material consistent with the interests of its on-campus readership.

Financial Structure

  • The Watchdog is funded through a combination of Bellevue College S&A funds and advertising revenue.


Serving our readers

The editorial staff must maintain surveillance of the campus constituencies which The Watchdog serves and must strive to address their information needs. These include:

  • All students regardless of race, ethnicity, economic status, veteran status, transfer status, disabled status, gender identification, sexual orientation, age, inclusion in a particular program, or interests.
  • Faculty, staff, and administration.
  • Community members involved with or in proximity to the college.


The Section Editors must maintain a list of major beats in order to gather campus news.

  • School administration: Policies, individuals, groups
  • School departments and divisions, instructional and non-instructional
  • Student Government
  • Student Activities
  • Campus security (known as Public Safety)
  • Sports/Athletic Department
  • Faculty
  • Arts
  • Specialized programs such as Disibility Resource Center, Running Start, etc.

Enterprise and Investigative Stories

In addition to “hard news” about student and collegiate administration and activities, the College campus offers opportunities for speculative and in-depth stories.

Events Coverage

  • Preview stories (e.g., announcement of name of rally, key speakers/organizers, cause).
  • Depth stories (e.g., history of issue for rally, key players involvement).
  • Review (e.g., length of rally, attendance, what was said).

Editorials and Opinions

Staff members are free to publish their positions on national and local issues.

  • Editorial positions should be couched in logical, concrete terms. (See “Fair Comment and

Criticism,” in The AP Stylebook).

  • Whenever editorial positions are presented, editors should seek alternative viewpoints to provide

informative, fair, and unbiased balance in editorial.

  • Editorials written by the staff may be signed “Editorial Staff of The Watchdog.”
  • Under no circumstances are anonymous editorials or opinions to be published.

Letters to the Editor

Important to the newspaper is response by its readers in the form of letters and comments.

  • Letter-writers must feel secure that their letters will be published carefully, without typographical

errors, and without the risk of embarrassment and counter-attack.

  • Any letter that is fewer than 500 words and is written by a member of Bellevue College

community should be printed in the next possible issue.

  • Only signed letters will and should be printed.


The Watchdog accepts submissions from Bellevue College students, staff, and faculty that are either first person experiences or opinions. Articles that are relevant to the Bellevue College community or to college students in general are greatly preferred, along with timeliness and personal experience.

Guidelines for submitting an article to The Watchdog:

  • Length: 450-750 words
  • Type of Article: First person experience or opinion.
  • Sources must be included. (see “fact-checking” below). We prefer primary sources (a published research paper) to secondary ones (a news article about the paper’s findings).
  • Articles will be checked in the follow ways by The Watchdog staff:
    • Spelling and grammatical errors will be corrected.
    • Fact-checking: Prior to publishing an article, verifiable facts (for example, the number of Americans without health insurance, the median household income, the date a law was enacted) will be checked. If a particular fact cannot be verified, the article will not be published. The Watchdog may decide that broader factual assertions may need to be qualified, explained or stated with greater precision or nuance. If this is the case, articles may be sent back to their authors requesting changes.Contributors can refuse any edit requests and withdraw their request to publish at any time before publication.
  • Contributors cannot claim to be working for, representing, or inquiring on behalf of The Watchdog.
  • Contributors are not paid for any articles submitted.
  • The Watchdog reserves the right to refuse to publish any article, even after clarifications or edits requested have been submitted.
  • Submissions should be sent to the Program Manager and she will forward them to the editors and Faculty Advisor.

Acceptable Repetition of Stories

Because of the large turnover in students each year, it is acceptable for basic information about the campus and its traditions to be repeated each quarter, each year.

  • Identification and attribution become especially important because of such a fluid readership.
  • It is unacceptable to submit/publish previously published stories, unless they are identified as such in print.
  • It is unacceptable to submit a story that has already been published in another publication without getting permission and approval from the editor-in-chief of both publications and the faculty advisor.
  • Questions and issues raised in one edition of the paper should not be ignored in future editions. Survey of archive will remind the section editors of unfinished business and unanswered questions.


Quality Sources

Staff reporters are encouraged to make contacts with news sources by email interviews, personal interviews, and telephone interviews.

Responsible reporting

The job of reporter offers a license to talk to people one might not otherwise approach–strangers, dignitaries, students, administrators, faculty. As representatives of The Watchdog, all reporters have certain responsibilities. Among them:

  • Identify yourself to your sources before interviews, no matter how informal.
  • Be respectful to your sources and the people on your beat. The reporter has the right to ask; the source has the right to refuse.
  • Never threaten a source.
  • The source has the right to specify a piece of information be “off the record.”
  • The reporter has the right to refuse to hear “off the record” information on the chance (s)he can get it “on the record” elsewhere. But, once (s)he has agreed to hear information “off the record”, the reporter is ethically bound to honor that agreement.
  • Be accurate and verify all information before submitting anything.
  • Get both sides of every story.
  • Familiarize yourself with: this handbook, The AP Stylebook, campus organizations, college officials and officers, prominent campus community members.
  • Whenever an assigned story involves personal relationships or the reporter has prior involvement in the campus entity or agency to be covered, the reporter must inform the editorial staff that a conflict of interest exists:
  • Keep notes and files as they serve as a legal record of the investigative process should legal action occur.
  • Use the interview template provided to you upon hiring whenever possible.

Social Media Guidelines

  • Always get permission before posting to social media. In general, only the editor-in-chief and section editors post to social media on The Watchdog accounts.
  • Never set up a new account without the advisor’s permission.
  • Do not post anything personal. Student journalists should never violate their newsroom’s conduct or ethics policy under the assumption that their posts are personal, not professional. Social networks bring into clear focus that journalists are considered journalists by the public 24/7.
  • Always vet your sources. The general rule of thumb is that you should apply the same principles used in vetting a source found any other way: if a source you encounter claims to be an official from the college, a company, organization, or government agency, call the place of business to confirm the identity.
  • Never lift quotes, photos, or video from social networking sites and attribute them to the name on the profile or feed you found them under. If you come across photos, videos, or other multimedia content that you would like to use in your news report, you’ll need to verify the authenticity of the material and get permission from that person/organization to use it.
  • Link. Watchdog staff are encouraged to link Watchdog content in all formats. They can also link to content from other media organizations, except if the material spreads rumors or is otherwise inappropriate.
  • Rules for friending/following: It is acceptable to extend and accept social media friend requests from sources, politicians, and newsmakers if necessary for reporting purposes, and to follow them on Twitter. However, avoid friending and “liking” political candidates or causes as it may create a perception that Watchdog staff members are advocates.
  • Rules for interacting with users:
  • In the case of a story or image that stirs significant controversy, the Editor-in-Chief or Advisor must be notified immediately. Do not reply.
  • Abusive, bigoted, obscene, and/or racist comments should be flagged.
  • Notify section editors and copy editors of possible errors whether in their work or that of a colleague. A thoughtful note from a reader that leads to a correction by us deserves a reply of thanks.
  • If someone offers criticism of a story or image but has their facts wrong it’s good to reply, time permitting, and clarify the facts.


(not meant to be comprehensive job descriptions)

Faculty advisor

  • Encourages and advises on what constitutes professional journalistic standards and provides the staff with legal/ethical advice and/or resources.
  • Facilitates training of all newspaper staff and maintains quality of the staff members’ efforts.
  • When necessary, liaises between the student editors and other on and off-campus entities.
  • Assures freedom of the press from the administration, student government, or any other entity.
  • Advises on social media posting.
  • Does not serve as censor of the contents of the newspaper, neither in the eyes of the administration nor the students.

Program Manager

  • Provides an full-time presence for students by advising them on non-content related procedures and who to contact with content-related questions and issues.
  • Acts as a resource for campus news, information, structure, and contacts.
  • Trains students on website operations and social media operations and manages website functionality.
  • Manages hiring process, paperwork and student payroll.
  • Oversees Editor-in-Chief and other student staff to make sure all job duties are being fulfilled.
  • Manages technical issues and requests for assistance.
  • Provides revenue through advertising sales and event sponsorships.
  • Manages the program budget. Drafts annual budget proposal and submits it to S&A committee.
  • Oversees printing and distribution of the print paper.


  • Reports to Program Manager for employment responsibilities, answers to Faculty Advisor regarding content and journalism advice and choices.
  • Shapes the objectives of the news coverage, editorial coverage, style and format of the newspaper.
  • Supervises all student staff.
  • Conducts weekly staff meetings, assigns articles, photos, and graphics.
  • Makes sure deadlines are met.
  • Oversees the copy-editing process throughout the week.
  • Conducts hiring interviews, and training workshops with the assistance of the Program Manager and Faculty Advisor.
  • Is responsible for updating the website, posting to social media, and assembly and printing of the print version.

Section Editor

  • Reports to Editor-in-Chief.
  • Oversees a section or sections of the paper (such as news or arts & features), including attending weekly staff meetings with suggestions of stories for their section.
  • Assists and directs individual reporters, photographers, and graphic designers in completion of their assignments
  • Under the direction of the Editor-in-Chief, posts content to social media platforms.
  • Uploads articles to the website on a weekly basis.

Social Media Editor

  • Reports to Editor-in-Chief
  • Oversees social media channels and posts, including attending weekly staff meetings with suggestions for weekly posts.
  • With approval from staff leadership, posts content to social media platforms between once and five times per week.


  • Reports to Section Editors and Editor-in-Chief.
  • Attends weekly staff meetings.
  • Finds sources and conducts interviews.
  • Uses AP style, writes assigned articles.
  • Upon either the standard Wednesday deadline, or another agreed upon deadline, submits their complete stories to the appropriate section editor via email. Makes revisions as requested.

Copy Editor

  • Reports to Section Editors and Editor-in-Chief.
  • Reads all copy input by staff writers for errors in fact, usage, or style; monitors copy for libelous content; returns copyedited articles to the appropriate section editor, meeting deadlines.
  • Attends all staff meetings.and print production.
  • Uses The AP Stylebook and MS Word.


  • Reports to Section editors and Editor-in-Chief.
  • Attends weekly staff meetings.
  • Takes photos as assigned and submits to appropriate section editor either by the Wed. deadline or immediately after an assigned event, whichever comes sooner.


The Newsroom (virtual and physical)

The Newsroom is a place where staff members are free to come to work on writing articles, conduct interviews, and meet about the issues concerning The Watchdog. Socializing around topics not relating to The Watchdog is discouraged.

Staff meetings

A mandatory weekly staff meeting shall bring together the entire staff to plan future issues. Section Editors should bring story ideas for their section. The precise agenda of each meeting is to be determined by the Editor-in-Chief, but all other staff are free to add relevant topics. Weekly meetings are a venue for all staff to discuss and contribute to the goals of The Watchdog. All reporters and photographers are expected to take at least one assignment per meeting.


Stories are due by Wednesday evening, with the specific time set by the current Editor in Chief. Other deadlines include editing deadlines for staff reporters, editors, and copy editors. These deadlines can vary by story and editing team. It is the Reporter’s responsibility to be aware of deadlines and meet them. Reporters should be aware that if their stories are late, they may face disciplinary procedures.

Copy flow

Copy Flows in the following pattern at the The Watchdog:

  1. Section Editors send all copy to copyeditors.
  2. Copy Editors read stories for style, mechanics, and legal implications.
  3. Copy Editors then forward all copy to Section Editors.
  4. Section Editors read all copy to assure appropriate information and angle, pick stories.
  5. Stories are sent back to Reporters for necessary changes.
  6. Stories are now ready for layout and/or posting.

Copyediting process

Copyeditors read all submissions to perform the following processes:

  • To correct spelling and punctuation (e.g. subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement, sentence fragments, incorrect modifiers, etc.).
  • To locate and correct errors in style (see The AP Styleook).
  • To make sure that straight news stories begin with effective leads. (Effective leads permit effective headlines.)
  • To identify factual errors in copy. (In such an instance, copy may be returned to section editor or reporter for correction.)
  • To identify potentially libelous material. (In such an instance, copy should be brought to the attention of the editor-in-chief.)
  • Copyeditors should survey each piece of copy for readability by: shortening paragraphs where possible.
  • Copyeditors should verify and correct name spellings.

Web editing process

  • Section Editors will upload their articles to the website each on a day specified by the EIC.
  • By Monday at noon, the Editor-in-Chief will publish all articles to the website.

Social media posting process

  • Only the Faculty Advisor or Program Manager can change the password or add administrators to the accounts.
  • By noon of each Monday and Wednesday the News Section Editor will post to social media after receiving approval for their post from the Editor-in-Chief.
  • By noon of each Tuesday and Thursday the Arts & Features Section Editor will post to social media after receiving approval for their post from the Editor-in-Chief.

Hiring process

  • All applicants must fill out an application form and submit a trial/ audition article or photo, or take a copyediting test, depending on the position.
  • All applicants receive equal consideration from the hiring committee, which will consist of the Faculty Advisor, Program Manager, Editor-in-Chief, and, Section Editors when available and appropriate.

Onboarding process

The following must be performed by new hires within one week of acceptance.

  • Hiring paperwork must be filled out and submitted to the Program Manager.
  • All new hires will receive a copy of this document, a job description, and instructions on how to get paid.


In order to ensure smooth operation at The Watchdog, the Program Manager, Faculty Advisor and Editor-in-Chief expect staff to follow certain procedures as they would in any workplace.

  • Staff who consistently miss meetings will be subject to disciplinary action.
  • Arriving more than fifteen minutes after the meeting has been called to order will be counted as an absence.
  • If a staff member has a valid excuse for missing a meeting, he/she must discuss the matter with the Editor-in-Chief prior to the meeting.
  • Section Editors need to inform the Editor-in-Chief at least one week in advance for a planned absence and as soon as possible for unplanned absences.
  • Section Editors unable to complete uploading their articles to the website will forfeit the pay earned for the hours worked on their section by another editor to that editor.

Disciplinary process

All staff members are hired with the understanding that they will uphold the standards of The Watchdog Staff Manual and BC’s Student Code of Conduct. Staff members who neglect their responsibilities will be subject to disciplinary procedures up to and including termination. A thorough record of all disciplinary actions will be kept by the Program Manager.

The general disciplinary procedure is as follows:

  • At his or her first offense, the employee receives a verbal warning.
  • At his or her second offense, the employee may receive a written warning.
  • At his or her third offense, the employee may be terminated or put on probation.
  • Staff placed on probation will undergo a performance review at the end of the quarter, or after a minimum of four weeks.
  • The Program Manager, Faculty Advisor, and Editor-in-Chief decide whether or not to retain the employee at the end of that employee’s probationary period.

Termination process

  • In all cases, the Program Manager must consent before termination can occur.
  • Removal of a staff member can occur as a result of failure to strive to meet the objectives set forth in this manual. Grounds for removal include (but are not limited to) failure to fulfill the job description, violation of the policies set forth in Bellevue College’s Student Conduct Code, or a poor evaluation at the end of new hire probation.
  • In cases of extreme misbehavior, the Program Manager may proceed directly to terminate a staff member, if said behavior clearly violates the Watchdog Staff Manual or Bellevue College’s Student Code of Conduct.


College policy recognizes the “Canons of Journalism” (Sect. 10.1, by the American Society of Newspaper Editors) and “Criteria of a Good Newspaper” (Sect. 10.2, by the Associated Press Managing Editors Association) as the standard for the performance of The Watchdog staff.


The primary function of newspapers is to communicate to the human race what its members do, feel, and think.  Journalism, therefore, demands of its practitioners the widest range of intelligence or knowledge and of experience, as well as natural and trained powers of observation and reasoning.  To its opportunities as a chronicle are indissolubly linked its obligations as teacher and interpreter.

To the end of finding some means of codifying sound practice and just aspirations of American journalism, these canons are set forth:

Responsibility.  The right of a newspaper to attract and hold readers is restricted by nothing but considerations of public welfare.  The use a newspaper makes of the share of public attention it gains serves to determine its sense of responsibility, which it shares with every member of its staff.  A journalist who uses his power for any selfish or otherwise unworthy purpose is faithless to a high trust.

Freedom of the Press.  Freedom of the press is to be guarded as a vital right of

mankind.  It is the unquestionable right to discuss whatever is not explicitly forbidden by law, including the wisdom of any restrictive statute.

Independence.  Freedom from all obligations except that of fidelity to the public interest is vital.

  1. Promotion of any private interest contrary to the general welfare, for whatever reason, is not compatible with honest journalism. So-called news communications from private sources should not be published without public notice of their source or else substantiation of their claims to value as news, both in form and substance.
  2. Partisanship, in editorial comment which knowingly departs from the truth, does violence to the best spirit of American journalism; in the news columns it is subversive of a fundamental principle of the profession.

Sincerity, Truthfulness, Accuracy.  Good faith with the reader is the foundation of all journalism worthy of the name.

  1. By every consideration of good faith a newspaper is constrained to be truthful. It is not to be excused for lack of thoroughness or accuracy within its control, or failure to obtain command of these essential qualities.
  2. Headlines should be fully warranted by the contents of the article which they surmount.

Impartiality.  Sound practice makes clear distinction between news reports and expressions of opinion.  News reports should be free from opinion or bias of any kind.

  • This rule does not apply to so-called “special articles” unmistakably devoted to advocacy or characterized by a signature authorizing the writer’s own conclusions and interpretation.

Fair Play.  A newspaper should not publish official charges affecting reputation or moral character without opportunity given to the accused to be heard; right practice demands the giving of such opportunity in all cases of serious accusation outside judicial proceedings.

  1. A newspaper should not invade private rights or feelings without sure warrant of public right as distinguished from public curiosity.
  2. It is the privilege, as it is the duty, of a newspaper to make prompt and complete correction of its own serious mistakes of fact or opinion, whatever their origin.

Decency.  A newspaper cannot escape conviction of insincerity if while professing high moral purpose it supplies incentives to base conduct, such as are to be found in details of crime and vice, publication of which is not demonstrably for the general good.  Lacking authority to enforce its canons, the journalism here represented can but express the hope that deliberate panderings to vicious instincts will encounter effective public disapproval or yield to the influence of a preponderant professional condemnation.

Conflicts of Interest.  One of the most basic tenets of journalism is that reporters are not to write about organizations which they are personally associated with, the reason being that they lack an objective critical perspective.  On a broader plane, publishing stories which exhibit conflict of interest will quickly undermine a paper’s credibility, something which is much more difficult to establish than it is to tear down.


A good newspaper prints the important news and provides the information, comment, and guidance that is most useful to its readers.  It reports fully and explains the meaning of local, national, and international events which are of major significance to, or have a major impact on, its own community.  Its editorial comment provides an informed opinion on matters of vital concern to its readers.  In a nutshell, a good newspaper exhibits a careful balance between what the readership wants to know and what they need to know.

By reflecting the total image of its own community in its news coverage and by providing wise counsel in its editorials, a good newspaper becomes a public conscience.  It also must be lively, imaginative, and original; it must have a sense of humor, and the power to arouse keen interest.

The implementation of these principles of good editing requires skilled staff, an attractive format, adequate format, adequate space for news and comment, and a sound business foundation.

The staff must possess the professional pride and competence necessary to breathe life and meaning into the daily record of history.  Good writing must be combined with an effective typographical display of copy and pictures to capture the full drama and excitement of the day’s news.  Good printing is essential.

News and comment of most immediate interest and importance to the local city shall have priority for the available space, which will depend on the size and resources of the newspaper.

To assure a financially strong and independent publication, and one that is competitive with other media, a good newspaper must maintain effective circulation, advertising, and promotion departments.

Finally, a good newspaper should be guided in the publication of all material by a concern for truth, the hallmark of freedom, by a concern for human decency and human betterment and by a respect for the accepted standards of its own community.


            Washington Administrative Code –The “WAC” book contains the administratively procedures duly passed by trustees according to the rules for administrative

policy-making for the state.  Title 132, for instance, contains the administrative policies for each of the state’s community colleges: thus:

WAC 132H-120-100(3) Freedom of responsible expression in student publications and radio broadcasting.

(a)        STUDENT PUBLICATIONS.  Bellevue College recognizes that student publications are a valuable aid in establishing and maintaining an atmosphere of free and responsible discussion and of intellectual exploration on the campus.  The college does, therefore, subscribe to The Canons of Journalism as written by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, “The Canons of Journalism,” in George L. Baird, et al., The Press and Society (New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1951), pp. 108-1 1 0.

Bellevue College as the publisher of student publications must bear the legal responsibility for the contents of the publications.  The student publication policy must protect the student’s freedom to deal with any ideas and to express any opinions without fear of their censorship.  Editors and managers of student publications are protected from arbitrary suspension and removal.  Only for proper and stated causes should editors and managers be subject to removal and then by orderly and prescribed procedures.  Student editors and managers have corollary responsibilities to be governed by the Canons of Journalism.

            Revised Code of Washington — RCW 1974 contains the legal definitions for the state legal system.  A number of titles bear upon student journalism: Washington Constitution, Art. 1, Sect. 5 — “freedom of Speech.  Every person may freely speak, write, and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right.”

11.2.1     Libel Procedure

Title 4.16.100 — actions on libel must be filed within two years.

Title 4.36.120 — “the plaintiff (in a libel action) shall be bound to establish

on trial that (extrinsic facts of libel were) so published.”

Title 4.36.130 — “the defendant may, in his answer, allege both the truth of the charges, as defamatory, and any mitigating circumstances to reduce the amount of damages; and whether he proves the justification or not, he may give in evidence the mitigating circumstances.”

Title 4.84-040 — “in an action for… libel … if the plaintiff recover less than ten dollars he shall be entitled to no more costs or disbursements than the damage recovered.”

Title 9.58.010 — defines libel as “every malicious publication by writing, printing, effigy, sign, radio broadcasting or which shall in any other manner transmit the human voice or reproduce the same from records or other appliances or means which shall tend: —

(1)    to expose any living person to hatred, contempt, ridicule or obloquy, or to deprive him of the benefit of public confidence or social intercourse; or

(2)    to expose the memory of one deceased to hatred, contempt, ridicule or obloquy; or

(3)    to injure any person, corporation or association of persons in his or their business or occupation, shall be libel.  Every person who publishes a libel shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

Title 9.58-01 0 — A libel is justified when it “charges the commission of a crime, is a true and fair statement, and was published with good motives and for justifiable ends.  It is excused when honestly made in belief of its truth and fairness and upon reasonable grounds for such belief, and consists of fair comments upon the conduct of any person in respect of public affairs, made after a fair and impartial investigation.”

Title 9.58-030 — “Any method by which matter charged as libelous may be communicated to another shall be deemed a publication thereof.”

Title 9.58.040 — “Every editor or proprietor of a book, newspaper or serial, and every manager of a co-partnership or corporation by which any book, newspaper or serial is issued, is chargeable with the publication of any matter contained in any such book, newspaper or serial.” (The title goes on to note it an absolute defense “if the defendant shows that the matter complained of was published without his knowledge or fault and against his wishes by another who had no authority from him to make such publication and was promptly retracted by the defendant with an equal degree of publicity upon written request of the complainant.

Title 9.58.050 — specifies that “a fair and true report of any judicial, legislative or other public and official proceeding, or of any statement, speech, argument or debate in the course of the same, without proving actual malice in making the report” is privileged.

Title 9.58-080 — “Every person who shall willfully state, deliver or transmit by any means whatever, to any manager, editor, publisher, reporter or other employee of a publisher of any newspaper, magazine, publication, periodical or serial, any statement concerning any person or corporation, which if published therein, would be a libel, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”


Title 7.42-01 0 — “The superior courts shall have jurisdiction to enjoin the sale or distribution of obscene prints and articles as hereinafter specified.”

Title 7.42.020 — specifies the county prosecutor as the one who will maintain an action against various entities – including newspapers and magazines – that he deems are included under the definition of “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent.”

Title 9.68.020 — prescribes the kinds of publications prohibited as obscene:

(1)    Any detailed account of the commission or attempted commission of the crime

of rape, carnal knowledge, seduction, adultery, sodomy, or any other sexual crime, or of the trial of any person charged therewith; or

(2)    Any detailed account of the execution of any person convicted of crime; or

(3)    Any detailed statement of any evidence of indecent, obscene or immoral acts

offered in any trial or proceeding; or,

(4)    Any interview with, advertisement for, communication from or account of the

actions of any public prostitute, except upon a matter concerning public welfare.

Title 9.68.030 — declares it a misdemeanor to advertise “for sale, loan or distribution”

articles, drugs or medicines for causing unlawful abortion.

Anarchy and Breach of the Peace

Title 9.05.020 — specifies that “advocating criminal anarchy” by speech or writing (“overthrowing or overturning organized government by force or violence”) or by printing, publishing, editing, is punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten years or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.

Title 9.05.150 — specifies that printing, publishing, editing, circulating, “printed matter in any form” that advocates, encourages, or incites “the commission of any crime, breach of the peace or act of violence, or which shall tend to encourage or advocate disrespect for law or for any court or courts of justice, shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.”

Open Public Meetings Act

Title 42.30 — declares all public commissions, boards, councils, and all other public agencies of the state to conduct their deliberations openly.

“The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them.  The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.  The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”

The title goes on to prevent public governing bodies from adopting ordinances, rules, and resolutions except in open meeting and with sufficient notice of that meeting (42.30.060), but it provides for executive sessions (42.30.010) regarding acquisition of real estate or regarding personnel matters.

Public Documents to be made Public

Title 42.17.260 — declares that all public agencies “shall make available for public records” unless their release constitutes “an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy.”

Title 42.17.310 — certain information is exempt:

  • student information (personal), patient or client information of public health agencies or institutions, welfare recipients, prisoners, probationers, parolees.
  • employee information of public agencies which would violate their privacy.
  • taxpayer information which would violate taxpayer privacy.
  • law enforcement investigative records.
  • test questions and answers.

Privacy consideration is void where personal identifications can be deleted from specific records.  A superior court hearing could conclude that exemption of records is

unnecessary to protect an individual’s right to privacy or any vital government function.

“Agency responses refusing, in whole or in part, inspection of any public record shall include a statement of the specific exemption authorizing the withholding of the record (or part) and a brief explanation of how the exemption applies to the record withheld.”

Title 42.17.340 — “The superior court in the county in which a record is maintained may require the responsible agency to show cause why it has refused to allow inspection or copying of a specific public record

… The burden of proof shall be on the agency to establish that refusal … is required.”


Title 9.73.030 — Privacy: Intercepting or recording private communication.  It is unlawful to intercept private communication, whether it be transmitted by telephone, telegraph, radio, or other device between two or more individuals by means of “any device … designed to record … said communication … without first obtaining the consent of all the participants in the communication.”

It is unlawful to record private conversation without obtaining the consent of all the persons engaged in the conversation.

Consent is considered obtained whenever one party has announced to all other parties engaged in the conversation that the communication is about to be recorded or transmitted. (it is important to RECORD that announcement, as well.)

“An employee of any regularly published newspaper, magazine, wire service, radio station, or television station acting in the course of bona fide news gathering duties … shall be deemed to have consent to record and divulge communications or conversations otherwise prohibited by this chapter if the consent is expressly given or if the recording or transmitting device is readily apparent or obvious to the speakers.”

‘Withdrawal of the consent after the communication has been made shall not prohibit any such employee of a newspaper [etc.] from divulging the communication or conversation.”