Media Guidelines

Jacksonville UniversityGuidelines for the Student Media


Jacksonville University is the publisher of all recognized student publications and the producer of all media. The immediate governance of all recognized student media is delegated by the President of the University through the Dean of Students’ office to the Board of Student Media. The Board is comprised of administrators, faculty members, and students and is charged by the President with ensuring that the production of student media is of high standards and quality, that they are characterized by balance and good taste, and that they are in conformity with the laws and generally accepted ethics of the media.

The Navigator, student newspaper, Riparian, student yearbook, Aquarian, literary magazine, Dolphin Radio Station, and the Dolphin TV Station have been established as the officially recognized student media for student expression and discussion of ideas. Each of the media shall provide opportunity for students to inquire, question, and exchange ideas. Content should reflect all areas of student interest.

The following guidelines are based on State and Federal court decisions that have determined the First Amendment rights of students in public universities. Jacksonville University as a private institution has no legal mandate to be bound to the same guidelines as a public institution. However, in the interest of providing an atmosphere of academic freedom which allows students to have the best educational opportunities possible, Jacksonville University extends to the student media the privilege of operation according to the Statement on Student Rights and the right to express themselves in manners not in direct conflict with the educational mission of the University as established by the Board of Trustees.

It is the policy of Jacksonville University that student journalists should have the privilege to determine the content of official student publications without prior restraint of University officials. These rights and/or privileges are offered to the student media editors and managers with the understanding of their adherence to the following responsibilities and guidelines. Accordingly, the following guidelines relate to establishing grounds for disciplinary actions.


Students who work on or for student media are responsible for the content of those media. These students should

1. Determine the content of the student media;

2. Strive to produce a publication/production based upon existing professional and community standards of accuracy, objectivity, and fair play;

3. Review material to improve sentence structure, grammar, spelling, punctuation, or diction as appropriate;

4. Check and verify all facts and verify the accuracy of quotations;

5. In the case of editorials, commentaries, letters to the editor or guest commentaries concerning controversial issues, determine the need for rebuttal comments and opinions and provide space therefore if appropriate;

6. Be responsible for knowing and adhering to current applicable laws with regard to the professional and student media.


1. Students cannot publish or distribute material that is obscene. Obscene is defined as material that meets any or all of the following requirements:

  • a. The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the publication, taken as a whole, appeals to an individual’s prurient interest in sex;
  • b. The publication depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct such as ultimate sexual acts (normal or perverted), masturbation, excretory functions, and lewd exhibition of the genitals;
  • c. The work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

2. Students cannot publish or distribute material which is “libelous,” defined as provable false and unprivileged statements that do demonstrated injury to an individual’s or business’ reputation in the community. If the allegedly libeled party is a “public figure” or “public official” as defined below, then the aggrieved party must show that the false statement was published or broadcast “with actual malice,” i.e., that the student journalist or announcer knew that the statement was false, or that the statement was published or broadcast with reckless disregard for the truth – without trying to verify the truthfulness of the statement.

  • a. A public official is a person who holds an elected or appointed public office.
  • b. A public figure is a person who either seeks the public’s attention or is well known because of his achievements.
  • c. When an allegedly libelous statement concerns a private individual, the aggrieved individual must show that the false statement was published willfully or negligently, i.e., the student journalist failed to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise.
  • d. Under the “fair comment rule” a student is free to express an opinion on matters of public interest.

3. Students cannot publish or distribute material which will cause “a material and substantial disruption of University activities.”

  • a. Disruption is defined as student rioting; unlawful seizures of property; destruction of property; or substantial student participation in a University boycott, sit-in, stand-in, walk-out or other related form of activity. Material that stimulates heated discussion or debate does not constitute the type of disruption prohibited.
  • b. “University activity” means educational activity of students sponsored by the University and includes, by way of example and not by way of limitation, classroom work, library activities, physical education classes, official assemblies, and other similar gatherings, school athletic contests, concerts, and plays.

4. Legal Advice

  • a. If, in the opinion of the student editor, student editorial staff, faculty advisor, or Board of Student Media, material proposed for publication may be “obscene,” “libelous,” or “cause a substantial disruption of school activities,” the legal opinion of the University attorney may be sought through the Dean of Students’ Office.
  • b. The Final decision of whether legally questionable material is to be published will be left to the Editor-in-Chief of the publication in question who is responsible for the content of the publication.


Protected speech for student media includes, by way of example and not by way of limitation, the following:

1. Speech that is controversial, takes extreme, “fringe” or minority opinions;

2. Material relating to sexual issues including, but not limited to, birth control information and sexually-transmitted diseases (including AIDS);

3. Occasional use of indecent or so-called “four-letter” words in student publications;

4. Criticism of University policies, practices or performance of teachers, university officials, the University itself or of any public officials;

5. Criticism of student leaders, student government policies or other student organizations;

6. Publication or distribution of non-prohibited material written by non-students;

7. Advertising accepted by the student newspaper, yearbook, radio station and magazine that is in compliance with accepted advertising policies;

8. Endorsements of candidates for student office or for public office at any level.


Advertising is constitutionally protected expression. Student publications should be allowed to accept advertising. Acceptance or rejection of advertising should be within the purview of the publication staff, who should develop advertising acceptance guidelines, and who may accept any ads except those for products that are illegal for all students. Political ads may be accepted. The publication should not accept ads only on one side of an issue of election.


These guidelines will be included in the By-Laws of the Jacksonville University Board of Student Media. University officials should help ensure that distribution spaces are provided for officially recognized student publications.


Final interpretation of the above guidelines will rest with the office of the President of the University.