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Staff structure and workflow


This is a lesson on workflow, editorial policy and staff structure for websites. Students will establish workflow for adding content (photos, articles, social media, videos) to website. What approval process and who will make final approvals?  Also, students will establish an editorial policy for content and also to address comments within the open forum of a website.  Finally, students will outline and define the staff structure and roles of the staff.

While developing your editorial policy on how you will handle comments within an open forum of the website, also visit Ethical concerns with editorials to help define your policy and understand the ethical issues within an open forum.


  • Create a workflow for publishing (ie., hierarchy and editing cycle), bylines and links to student emails
  • Establish an editorial policy
  • Delineate staff structure and roles of staff

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.5 Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.


50 minutes

Note: depending on the experience level of your staff, each step in this lesson could take significantly longer. Expand the discussion/brainstorm time as necessary to be thorough with each step. If your staff already has an editorial policy, for example, this portion might go quickly. If not, it might take an entire class period.


Class set: Sample Editorial Policy

Class set: Sample Staff Hierarchy

Class set: Photo Roles

Class set: Writer Roles 

Lesson step-by-step

1. Brainstorming of workflow — 10 minutes

Students will brainstorm who will have access to post information to the website (student editors) and if there will be an approval process by adviser before going live.   Who must approve content/material before it goes live on the Web?  Use the following activity to discuss:

  1. Hand students sticky notes and have them write down the various types of stories, videos, content that will be on the website. Once each student has filled out at least 5-8 sticky notes, start grouping the sticky notes into various content categories.
  2. Create a chart of the various types of content and how each will be approved and put on the website live.  Make sure you address everything from photos, stories, breaking news, tweets, broadcast videos, advertising, rate sheets, editorial policy.

2. Editorial policy — 15 minutes

Students must create an editorial policy that will be posted on the website that will cover how staff will handle different situation. Discuss as a class what that policy might look like, and what pertinent details must be included. Below is a template to get students started.

A few questions to consider:

  • Does your school have an open forum policy?
  • What needs more emphasis?
  • What will be the policy if an inappropriate comment is made on the website?
  • What will be the policy or the timeframe to make a correction on the website? (24 hours?)
  • How will something that was “tweeted” be corrected?
  • What will you do if students with first and last names who opted out are identified
  • How will you cover a death?
  • What other situations may come up during the year?

Sample editorial policy

(Publication Name) is an independent publication of (School Name).

The purpose of this website is to provide a forum of expression for the students (School Name).   It also serves to provide information, entertainment and commentary from (School Name). students on matters of school, local, state, national and international issues, with emphasis on local and school issues.


Readers may respond to content and other issues through Letters to the Editor to the newsmagazine and commenting  on stories.

LETTERS:  An honest attempt to print all letters, regardless of the views or opinions expressed, will be made. Letters must be signed, and any letters which are judged to be libelous, obscene, materially disruptive to school or an invasion of privacy will not be printed. The editors reserve the right to edit all letters.

Editorials or opinion columns representing the views of individual staff members carry bylines. The views in opinion columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the high school faculty or the administration.

Accuracy is a major goal of your publication name; therefore, major errors will be acknowledged and corrected within a timely manner.

3. Reflection and discussion — 10 minutes

Students should also discuss what they will do when something goes wrong. As a class or individually, consider the following:

  • What documentation will reporters, photographers and broadcast students need to get permission before adding it to the website?
  • Permission to print names, photos, video, etc (forms signed) or an opt out policy?
  • Journalism students will sign a contract that makes them aware of consequence should they post something inappropriate?

4. Setting up a staff hierarchy — 15 minutes

Finally, students should finalize their staff hierarchy. Review the Sample Staff Hierarchy handout and create your own web organization chart for how stories, photos, videos, and social media will be approved and added onto the website. Next, create an editing checklist that will be used to edit the content.   If there is already a checklist for editing stories, photos, or videos, please utilize that as a starting point.   Also check out the Photo Roles and Writer Roles handouts as sample responsibilities for each person in the hierarchy.