Tabula RASA Guidelines

Policies & Standards of Tabula RASA


This is a “living document”, moving with our changing perceptions. These guidelines are put in place in order to create a safe space for discussion. Work submitted must meet the standards and policies of Tabula RASA. On the other hand, if we believe the work does not meet our standards but see potential in publishing it, the Tabula RASA Daily Board will reach out to you.

We created these guidelines by looking at the policies and guidelines of well-established newspapers and journals. This was to ensure accuracy and fairness in producing our policies and standards. Links to the journals referenced are included at the end of the document.

Additionally, since some articles included in Tabula RASA are about the UCR community or those in it, Tabula RASA must take care not to intrude on people’s private lives, as people can be easily identified. 

We want to address that we are a student-run newspaper for the students. Though we will try to implement the same level of journalistic integrity as globally renowned newspapers, we also would like to address differences. We want to craft Tabula RASA around the students to promote safety and diversity within our own community. There may be clauses in this document that do not reflect the views of other newspapers or your own views. Still, we hope to open the floor to a conversation to better our community’s communication. If you have any further questions or concerns, please do contact us.


Contact details:

Daily Board 2022-2023:

Editor In Chief: Hanna Zelma Horányi

Managing Director: Lexi Czulewicz

Web & Design Manager: Alyssa Ling

Column Editors 2022-2023:

Arts & Culture Column Editor: Romke van der Veen

Opinion Column Editor: Anne-Rosa de Gorter

Visual Journalism Column Editor: Natalie Kreppner

Fiction & Poetry Column Editor: Yuvana Sahi


Table of Contents


  • Fairness


      1. Omission
      2. Deception
      3. Addressing claims


  • Taste


      1. Pejorative language
      2. Offensive content
      3. Sources and links


  • Columns


      1. Preface
      2. Columns
        1. Current Affairs
        2. Opinion
        3. Local Community
        4. Arts & Culture
        5. Visual Journalism 
        6. Fiction & Poetry


  • Fact-Checking


      1. Review of article by Editor-in-Chief
      2. Feedback from Editor-in-Chief
      3. Digital oversight by Web & Design Manager
      4. Verification of names, locations
  • Corrections


      1. Accuracy
      2. Meanings of corrections
      3. Protocol of corrections
      4. Understanding of corrections
      5. Clarifications of corrections
      6. Mutual satisfaction of changes/ corrections
      7. Take-down Requests


  • Sources


      1. Disclosing source information
      2. Anonymous sources
      3. Sources
      4. Response to comments


  • Quotations


      1. Ad hominem quotations
      2. Inclusion of quotations
      3. Blind quotations
      4. Accuracy
  • Rebuttals 


      1. Publishing responses
      2. Protocol for rebuttals p.I
      3. Protocol for rebuttals p.II
      4. Alternative platforms


  • Attribution


      1. Explanation of sources
      2. Attribute sources
      3. Transparency in attribution
      4. Attribution and Tabula RASA’s standards
      5. Transparency in interviews


  • Ground Rules


      1. Transparency in interviews
      2. Print and Website publications
      3. Rights to publication
      4. Diversity protocol
      5. Contact Tabula RASA 


  • Privacy


      1. Copy Approval
      2. Copyright


  • Editorial Codes References:
  • Appendix


    1. Informed Consent Form



  • Fairness


  1. The work is not fair if it omits facts or evidence of importance or significance.
  2. The work is not fair if it deceives the readers.
  3. The work is not fair if it covers individuals or organizations which have not been given the opportunity to address assertions or claims made about them.


  • Taste


      1. Pejorative language (profanities and obscenities) is avoided unless it is seen as imperative to the story and meaning is lost without it.
        • Any pejorative language used must have the unanimous approval of the Daily Board.
        • The language may be subject to being paraphrased or omitted from the article.
      2. If we find that content contains potentially sensitive material, a trigger warning to preface the material should be used. 
        • This is to honor and maintain a safe space within Tabula RASA.
          • E.g., articles that contain content regarding sexual assault or harassment will have a trigger warning.
      3. We do not link sites or sources that are provocative for reasons to cause offense or harm.
        • This includes links that aid illegal or inhumane activity.


  • Columns


      1. If necessary, contributions may be edited first by the column’s editor before being viewed by the Editor-In-Chief.
      2. There should be a distinct separation between news columns and opinion columns.
        • We will not publish articles that are written purely to provoke. We see this as a violation of the safe setting we try to create. We cannot control if reponses are elicited, however, it is the intention of the writer that matters.
        1. Current Affairs:

          1. Interpretation of the news based on evidence and data and anticipating how events may unfold based on past events.
          2. The writer should refrain from incorporating their own opinions into the story as much as possible.
            • There should be a distinct separation between the writer and their writing  
        2. Opinion:

          1. This is a formulation of either one’s own or a culmination of opinions.
          2. The articles written require a clear thesis backed by evidence and formulated in a persuasive argument.
          3. Discussion of new topics with a point of view, including narratives by individuals regarding their own experience
          4. Opinions based on falsehoods (conspiracy theories or fallacies) will not be published.
        3. Local Community:

          1. A review, analysis, or interpretation of an event, tradition, or location, etc., within the local community.
        4. Arts & Culture:

          1. A critical assessment, review, or reflection on a service, product, or literary or artistic work.
        5. Visual Journalism:

          1. This can fall under any previous description, and it can include writing to support the material.
          2. This can be in the form of photography, digital drawings, scanned drawings, etc.
        6. Fiction & Poetry:

          1. This can fall under and go beyond the previous clauses.


  • Fact-Checking


      1. Work submitted to Tabula RASA is subject to review by the current Editor-in-Chief and, if needed, other editors.
      2. The Editor-in-Chief will work alongside you to provide feedback and review the formulation of the work.
      3. The web and design manager has oversight of digital publications.
      4. Writers must verify spellings (names, locations, etc.) by asking their article’s subject(s).


  • Corrections


      1. We strive for accurate and well-written/reported/created articles and pieces of work.
      2. When we run a correction, we aim to tell readers what needs improvement and what is now improved.
        • Corrections could be seen as re-publications, an editor’s-note, or clarifications.
      3. If we correct an article, photo caption, headline, or other material, we should promptly publish a correction explaining the change.
      4. Readers should be able to understand how and why a mistake has been corrected.
      5. A clarification should be used to note that we initially failed to seek a comment or response that has since been added to the story or that new reporting has shifted our account of an event.
      6. The Editor-in-Chief will look at and edit articles, but all changes will need to be approved by both parties (the writer and the Editor-in-Chief).
        • Because of our situation as students in a small community, we believe that this can be solved through conversation with both parties. 
        • This applies to all writers, no matter their position on the board or outside of the board.
        • If we cannot reach a consensus within two weeks, we will ask RASA to mediate.
        • Tabula RASA reserves the right not to publish an article.
      7. Take-down requests
        • If requested by the writer, their article can be taken down. E.g., if the writer no longer wishes to have their article online.
        • We should be prepared to look into the article and publish a correction or follow-up in most cases.
        • Though, we will not remove an article in the event of a follow-up or a correction to pretend it was never published.


  • Sources


      1. Tabula RASA will disclose the sources of the information in its articles to make reporting as transparent to the readers as possible.
      2. Editors have an obligation to know the identity of any unnamed sources used to assess the usage of them.
        • The reporter and editor should discuss any promise of anonymity before reporting begins.
        • The source of anything published will be known to at least one editor.
        • If it is insisted that a source remains unnamed, there should be solid justification. The preferred solution is to omit the name and explain the omission. We should be honest about our sources, even if we can’t name them.
        • Writers must consider a source’s motives before the reassurance of anonymity. Those who may face a form of, e.g., serious danger or harm, such as threats, if the story is published are granted anonymity. Otherwise, we do not accept stories or articles from anonymous sources.
      3. We prefer that a written article use at minimum two sources.
        • This does not apply to the  Fiction & Poetry section, the Local Community section, the Visual Journalism section, and interview-based articles, although they are allowed to include them.
        • When seeking comments from those who are the subject of a story, we should give them a reasonable opportunity to respond to us.


  • Quotations


      1. We do not publish ad hominem quotations from unnamed sources.
      2. The inclusion of quotations or quoted statements must be put into context.
        • Summarizing arguments of people quoted in ways that are fair and accurate.
        • Potentially controversial statements by public figures or others should be quoted in a complete sentence or paragraph if possible and in context.
        • Placing a quotation in context requires clarification or an explanation of who said the quote, when they said it, where they said it, and, if possible, what they meant by it.
      3. We should avoid blind quotations whose only purpose is to add color to the story.
      4. Readers should be able to assume that every word between quotation marks is what the speaker or writer said.
        • If a quotation is in bad taste, the writer should consider paraphrasing it
        • The writer should always have detailed notes or a recording for interviews. These should be kept for legal reasons.
        • Tabula RASA does adjust spelling, punctuation, capitalization, abbreviations within a quotation for a consistent style. Minor changes won’t be explicitly mentioned.


  • Rebuttals


      1. Tabula RASA seeks and publishes responses from anyone criticized in our magazine.
        • When the criticism is serious, we should let the subject respond in detail.
        • No subject should be taken by surprise when the rebuttal is published.
      2. Rebuttals also require a clear thesis, backed by evidence, formulated in a persuasive argument, as they are an opinion or an analysis of material published.
        • We are not a personal blog, so journalistic integrity must remain intact.
      3. Rebuttals will therefore undergo the same treatment as any other article. This includes being reviewed and edited by the editor.
        • The writer and the editor must approve all edits.
      4. Sources who want to be intentionally provocative or harmful to another party or name must do it in their name and on an alternative platform.


  • Attribution


      1. We should be prepared to explain anything we do to get a story.
      2. Facts and quotations in a story that were not produced by our own reporting must be attributed through footnotes, references, etc. 
        • Plagiarism is not permitted. If plagiarism is found, we reserve the right to not publish the article, or take it down after publishing.
      3. Readers should be able to distinguish between what the reporter saw and what they obtained from other sources. It should be evident if the reporter was not present at a scene described.
        • This can either be prefaced, described, or put into a footnote.
      4. Attribution to another publication is not a reason to print material that would not meet the standards of Tabula RASA.
      5. The distinction between types of interviews should be made, e.g., personal interviews, telephone or email interviews, and other written statements.


  • Ground Rules


      1. We aim for transparency in our sources. We should start all interviews with the presumption that they are on record.
        • Inexperienced sources should clearly understand that there is a chance they will be quoted (the interviewer must inform them either on record or through a consent form).
      2. Works published on the website are not permitted to be republished in the print and vice versa (works published in the print are not allowed to be republished online).
      3. The Daily Board has the final say in what is and is not published.
        • If you violate any of these guidelines, we won’t publish the work as-is.
        • We can ask you to revise your work to fit our guidelines. However, if you do not wish to change your work, it will not be published.
      4. We promote diversity of opinion and perspectives through the variety of our writers and contributors. However, this does not allow room for hatred or discrimination.


  • Privacy 


    1. Copy Approval

      1. Tabula RASA is not required to allow an interviewee or subject of a story to see the article before publication, suggest changes, or withdraw their cooperation or consent if they disapprove of what was written.
        • We can provide a copy of the story to ensure interviewees’ or subjects’ cooperation but Tabula RASA is not required to change the article if given feedback.
        • The interviewer must inform the interviewee/subject either on record or through a consent form of our policy for copy approval.
          • A copy of the consent form can be found below.
    2. Copyright

      1. Writers are not permitted to use content from non-authorized third-party sources without the necessary permissions. This includes text, photos, or other types of media. 
      2.  The creator/writer must have or gain the rights to the publication of their material.



  • Editorial Codes References:



The New York Times- Editorial Standards and Guidelines


The Guardian UK- The Editorial Code


The Washington Post- Policies and Standards


Why The Answer’s Always ‘No’ To Copy Approval


SPJ Code of Ethics



  • Appendix


    1. Informed Consent Form (see page 9)
    2. Interviewers and interviewees can look at the consent form and withdraw their cooperation by not signing. 
    3. The consent form must be signed prior to the interview.
    4. The consent form applies to interviewers both inside and outside of the Tabula RASA board.


Informed Consent Form


This Informed Consent Form is for interviewees who were invited to be interviewed by Tabula RASA members or contributors, for interviews to be included in publications of Tabula RASA.


Name and description of the interview: ___________________________________________________








The person to be interviewed or subject to a story or article agrees with the following conditions:

  1. The interview is done on a voluntary basis.
  2. The interviewee/subject understands that what they say can or will be used in the published interview.
  3. The interviewee/ subject understands that they can indicate if things are to be kept off-record during the interview. 
  4. The interviewee/subject understands that they cannot withdraw their consent for the interview to be published. The interviewee has the right to anonymity as long as at least one member of the Daily Board knows who the interviewee is. Promises of anonymity should be done before the interview process begins. *

*see Sources in the guidelines for further information on anonymity


If necessary, the participant can contact the Editor-in-Chief: Katherine To-Hauser for further questions or concerns. ([email protected])


Interviewee Declaration


I have read the above information and conditions. I have been given the chance to ask questions and they have been satisfactorily answered. I consent voluntarily to be interviewed.


Name of interviewee:___________________________________________________________________


Email of interviewee:___________________________________________________________________


Signature of interviewee:________________________________________________________________




Interviewer Declaration:


I have accurately read out the consent form to the interviewee, and given them the chance to ask questions and answer them correctly and to the best of my abilities. I confirm that the interviewee has consented voluntarily and that I, to the best of my abilities, ensured that the interviewee understands what the interview will be about.


Name of interviewer:___________________________________________________________________


Email of interviewer:___________________________________________________________________


Signature of interviewer:________________________________________________________________




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