Trinity News Constitution

Written by Shannon Connolly, 69th Editor of Trinity News

1. Staff and Editor Requirements

1.1 Staff requirements

a) All staff must read and agree to stipulations laid out in the Trinity News handbook, 2022.

  1. staff may request, via email, an explanation for rules and procedures laid out in the handbook.
  2. staff are entitled to request changes to the TN Handbook accordingly, and these may be granted at the discretion of the editor.

b) Upon staff being hired by the editor, or individual sections, every staff member must be given a pdf version of the handbook, and agree to abide by Trinity News’ code of conduct in all reporting.

  1. This agreement must be a written acknowledgement via email of TN’s code of conduct, dated and signed.
  2. All staff members must acknowledge this agreement, regardless of section. This includes, but is not limited to, senior staff, section editors, staff writers, copyeditors, photographers and videographers.
  3. This does not apply to contributing writers. When a contributing writer is made a staff writer, they will be given a PDF version of the TN handbook, and asked to agree to the code of conduct.

c) When hiring staff, the Editor should take into account all potential conflicts of interest with other College bodies.

  1. Should a conflict of interest arise throughout an academic year in relation to any given staff member’s affiliations with other College bodies it is the responsibility of the Editor to evaluate the staff member’s remit of appropriate coverage in their contributions to the paper.

1.2: Editor requirements

a) The Editor is required to review and amend the handbook before the start of each term, to ensure the handbook is fit for purpose.

  1. The Editor cannot change parts of the handbook without discussion and approval from senior staff.
  2. The Editor should update the handbook each term with notes from staff, if necessary.
  3. The TN Handbook is a resource for staff, and must be readily available upon request for any staff members.

b)  It is the responsibility of the Editor to remind and ensure staff follow the code of conduct in all reporting.

  1. The Editor should ensure that all staff are clear on the code of conduct, especially with regards to sensitive stories.

c) It is the responsibility of the Editor to outline the procedures and violations considered by the Press Council of Ireland in the handbook, and explain these clearly to sections in which it affects.

d) If the Editor wishes to change any aspect of the constitution, it must be highlighted and put to a vote with staff.

2. Violation of the Code of Conduct

2.1: Violation of the code of conduct

a) All senior staff, section editors, copyeditors, staff writers and multimedia staff are subject to the Trinity News code of conduct and ethics policy. Section Editors are responsible ensuring that the articles within their sections uphold the integrity of the code of conduct and ethics policy. This includes, but is not exclusive to the following:

  1. Staff are responsible for their own behaviour at public events, workshops and in any engagement, in person or virtually, with writers.
  2. Staff holding anonymous interviews must indicate to the Editor that these are anonymous, but must not identify any person or persons being interviewed. Only the Editor may grant anonymity, and the identity must be made aware to one member of senior staff. This is only to guarantee anonymity can be granted; a sources identity will remain only known to those who approve it. The source is entitled to know which senior staff member knows, and they should be told before identified.
  3. Staff must be respectful to other staff. Any instances of bullying or harassment will be subject to review by the Editor, which may require a review by an external board.
  4. Personal items and quotes in a piece may not be changed without prior consultation with the writer; i.e. identities of individuals, by their own classification, may not be edited. Personal engagement with the writer to incorporate changes is needed in this instance.
  5. If there are multiple instances of a breach of the code of conduct, the Editor may recommend for a review of said staff member. If there is a verifiable instance of bullying or harassment, the Editor may ask the staff member to step down.
  6. If deemed appropriate by a review board and the individual chooses not to step down, they will be removed from their role.
  7. If staff are concerned about the Editor’s conduct, and there is an accusation of bullying or harassment, it must be raised with the Chair of Publications. The Chair of Publications may investigate said matter, and with sufficient evidence, the Chair may bring forward a vote of impeachment at Trinity News Staff’s request.
  8. The vote may not be brought forward if the Chair of Publications and a review committee have reasonable doubt.

b) Leaking of sensitive or confidential information at any stage before, during or after an investigation will be subject to a strict review from a board made up of the Editor, the Chair of Publications and a past member of the Student’s Union (TCDSU) or Publications Committee.

  1. If the Editor is suspected to be involved in the leaking of any sensitive information, a formal complaint must be sent by staff to the Chair of Publications. If the Chair has an adequate reason to believe this has occurred, a full investigation board made up of the Chair of Publications, a member of another student representative group and a past Editor of Trinity News will review the case and hold interviews with all involved.
  2. If the Chair of Council is a member of Trinity News Senior Staff or have an intimate relationship, the case must be deferred to another executive member of the Trinity Publication’s Committee.
  3. The Deputy Editor must take over the every day handlings of Trinity News from day-to-day throughout the duration of the investigation. The Editor’s key to the office must be given to the Deputy.
  4. If it is determined that the Editor leaked sensitive information to non-staff members of Trinity, a vote for impeachment must be brought to staff by the Chair of Publications.

c) If it is determined that a staff member leaked sensitive information before, during or after an investigation, the Editor may ask them to step down.

3: Removal of the Editor

a) Staff members call for an impeachment of the Editor if it is established the Editor committed any of the following:

  1. Leaking of sensitive information.
  2. Persistent harassment or abuse of staff members, verbal or otherwise.
  3. A breach of ethics.
  4. Failure to complete an adequate print run on more than one occasion.
  5. Failure to communicate with staff about workings of the paper.
  6. Failure to complete, to a satisfactory standard, the daily runnings of Trinity News.

b) If staff wish to call for a vote of impeachment, a formal email, with more than 15 signatories, must be sent to the Chair of Trinity Publications.

c) Upon receipt of an email calling for an impeachment vote, the Chair of Publications must establish a board made up of two executive members of the Publications Committee, a former member of Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union (TCDSU) Council and a former Editor of Trinity News.

d) The board will then investigate the claims made by staff over a two week period.

e) If it is determined, without reasonable doubt, that the Editor failed to reach the above requirements by the board, an impeachment vote may be called by the Chair of Publications.

  1. All editorial staff members are given a vote in an impeachment vote. This includes senior staff, section editors, copyeditors and multimedia staff.
  2. An impeachment vote will be considered passed if the majority of votes taken vote ‘yes’.

f) An impeached Editor is required to provide a full handover, including the exchange of all passwords and account details, no later than ten days following impeachment.

4: Resignation/Incapacitation of an Editor

a) An Editor is entitled to resign at any time throughout the year.

b) Should an Editor wish to resign, staff must be written to in full informing them of the resignation, and the Chair of Trinity Publications must be informed.

c) Upon the Editor’s resignation, the Deputy or the Assistant Editor, as indicated in the resignation letter, will immediately take over the day-today runnings of the paper, until such a time that an Executive General Meeting (EGM) can be held and a new editor elected.

d) Meeting (EGM) can be held to elect a new Editor.

  1. It is at the discretion of the executive staff who will take over Editor in the interim.
  2. Should an issue arise with the appointment of an interim Editor, the Chair of Publications will mediate discussion and make a recommendation.

e) The Editor must provide a handover to the newly elected Editor.

f) Should an Editor resign, the stipend must be divided between both the old and the new Editor based on issues produced. It is at the Trinity Publication Committee’s discretion what would happen if the stipend is used for accommodation.

g) If an Editor is unable to complete their duties, for health reasons, or are otherwise incapacitated, the above applies.

h) If, for some reason, an Editor needs to take medical leave, the following applies;

  1. The Editor must appoint an interim Editor from Senior Staff to deputise responsibilities to ensure that print continues to run.
  2. The medical leave must not exceed the period of three weeks, or the duration of one physical print issue, unless otherwise agreed with editorial staff.

5: Election of an Editor

a) Any member of editorial staff, who has occupied the position for the length of an academic year, may run for the position of Editor.

b) A manifesto must be submitted to the Editor to apply for the election, which will then be circulated to staff.

c) An Annual General meeting (AGM) of staff must be held for the election of a new Editor.
Each candidate will be given two minutes to speak. Questions of their manifesto are not time limited.

d) A candidate will be elected for Editor through an anonymous ballot.

e) A candidate will be considered elected by the majority vote.

f) An outgoing Editor must provide a handover for incoming Editor.