Penn State News: Story, photo and video guidelines

June 26, 2014


For members of the University community or the public:

  • Please send your submissions to Please note that the volume of email received at this address prohibits individualized response. Members of the editorial team will reach out of there are questions; otherwise, please know that your submission will be considered.

For Penn State students and student organizations:

For Penn State communications professionals:

  • University communications professionals should submit all information via the Penn State News CMS. Communicators should send an email to for assistance in accessing the system.

Editorial oversight

All material submitted for publication on University news platforms is subject to review and editing. Final decisions for publication and appropriate platforms for an item rest with the Penn State News and Media Relations editorial staff. Items not listed here will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Story guidelines

What we publish:

Broadly speaking, Penn State News will cover events that take place on a Penn State campus. Certain events that are not held on a Penn State campus also may be covered, including but not limited to:

  • Off-campus events that are part of a larger conference or event that is taking place on a Penn State campus may be included in the overall coverage of that event.
  • Major town-gown initiatives with a strong Penn State component may be covered, even if they do not take place on a Penn State campus.
  • Other outreach activities taking place in the community may be covered at the discretion of the editorial team.

What we do not publish:

  • Information of a commercial nature.
  • Solicitations (with the exception of requests for participants in Institutional-Review-Board-exempt research studies at Penn State Hershey; and nominations for University-created advisory boards or for other University business).
  • Information about events whose registration deadlines have passed, or that are not open to the general University community.
  • Lectures given by faculty or staff at another institution that are not part of a national or international conference.
  • Book or poetry readings and book signings by faculty, staff, students or administrators will not be covered, regardless of the location of the event.
  • Stories profiling services offered by units, departments or offices at the University that do not contain news of new initiatives.
  • In most cases, recurring announcements only will be published once per semester.

News of Record

The following is a list of guidelines governing the selection of items for the University’s News of Record, which includes announcements about:

  • 25-year awards
  • Appointments
  • Awards and Achievements
  • Grants and Contract Awards
  • Partings and Passings
  • Faculty Publications
  • Lectures

Links to these items will appear on every edition of Penn State Today and on the Faculty and Staff News page on Penn State News.

Materials for consideration by the News and Media Relations editorial team should be submitted to

News of record items will meet the following criteria:

25-Year Awards

  • Information and photos for 25-year awards, which recognize a faculty or staff member’s service to the University for 25 years, are submitted by human resources representatives or by communicators at campuses and colleges. They should not be submitted by award recipients.


  • Appointment announcements will be published for individuals who have been newly appointed to serve on the Penn State Board of Trustees; for the university president, provost and campus chancellors; and for those who report directly to the university president, the provost, or a campus chancellor.
  • Appointment announcements for members of the Board of Trustees, President’s Council and for campus chancellors will be composed by News and Media Relations staff, in conjunction with external communicators and administrative offices as appropriate.
  • Announcements about the appointment of deans and direct reports to campus chancellors should be written by college / campus communications professionals when appropriate.
  • Appointments to other key university leadership positions will be announced at the discretion of the News and Media Relations editorial team.
  • Interim appointments to the above positions will qualify for an announcement.

Awards and achievements

Penn State News publishes stories for members of the faculty and staff who:

  • make significant contributions in areas such as the arts or music;
  • receive such awards as Guggenheim or NATO fellowships;
  • receive a statewide, national or international award from professional associations and organizations, or are elected as officers or fellows thereof;
  • are appointed to a national or international committee;
  • win recognition awards from campuses, colleges and larger academic units;
  • earn teaching awards from colleges or campuses;
  • are appointed editor-in-chief of a recognized academic journal;
  • are invited plenary/keynote speakers or serve on a panel at an international or national meeting;
  • are selected as visiting scholars;
  • are named distinguished alumnus/alumna or awarded an honorary doctorate by an educational institution; or
  • present Congressional testimony.

Alumni awards: Penn State News will widely publish news of Penn State’s Alumni Fellow and Distinguished Alumni Awards. Announcements of alumni awards from campuses, college and departments will be published, but only on targeted pages/platforms.

Fulbright awards: Fulbright award coverage guidelines are available at

University-wide faculty and staff awards: Announcement of University-wide faculty and staff awards is made through Penn State News and Media Relations in conjunction with the Office of the President. Stories about the recipients of these awards may not be released by any campus, college or unit before the official announcements are published by Penn State News. Awards that fall into this category are:

Undergraduate Faculty Teaching Awards

  • Milton S. Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching
  • George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • Penn State Teaching Fellow
  • Alumni/Student Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • Penn State Excellence in Advising Award
  • President's Award for Excellence in Academic Integration
  • President's Award for Engagement with Students
  • Undergraduate Program Leadership Award

Graduate Faculty Teaching Awards:

  • Howard B. Palmer Faculty Mentoring Award
  • Graduate faculty Teaching Award
  • Graduate Program Chair Leadership Award

Faculty & Staff Achievement Awards:

  • Barash Award for Human Service
  • McKay Donkin Award
  • Award for Administrative Excellence
  • Staff Excellence Award
  • Support Staff Award
  • James Robinson Equal Opportunity Award
  • W. LaMarr Kopp International Faculty & Staff Achievement Award
  • Penn State Award for Faculty Outreach

Grants and Contract Awards

  • News of grants and contract awards received by members of the University faculty will be announced for awards of $100,000 or greater. It will be the responsibility of the communications professionals in the faculty member’s primary college to compose and submit these awards announcements.

Faculty publications

  • Faculty publication announcements will include information about faculty members who have written or edited a book. Information submitted should include author's name and professional title, the title of the publication, the name of the publisher and short description of the book's contents. Announcements will be made only for books that have been published.
  • Links to commercial publishing sites will not be included.
  • Information about book chapters or journal articles will not be published.
  • News of vanity press and Internet books will be published on a case-by-case basis.


  • Brief information about upcoming lectures will be published on Penn State News. All featured lectures must be given by a member of the University community, and must be open to the public. Lectures should be announced in advance, and one time only.

Partings and Passings


  • Penn State News may publish obituary information for active members of the faculty and staff; administration; and Board of Trustees. Obituary information for retired faculty, staff, administrators and board members, and information for other individuals with significant ties to Penn State, may be run at the editors’ discretion. A photograph of the individual should be included when available.


  • Retirement announcements, including photos, will be run for the university president, the provost and campus chancellors, and for those who report directly to the above individuals.
  • Retirement announcements also may be submitted for faculty or staff with more than 25 years of service, and for faculty who hold emeritus rank or distinguished professor status.
  • Penn State News will publish retirement announcements for other individuals at the editors’ discretion.



Penn State News will publish stories about donations to the University. It will be the responsibility of the communications professionals in the receiving college, campus or unit to compose and submit these stories. At the editors' discretion, gift stories will be considered for wider, central distribution on Penn State News-related platforms, such as Penn State Today. All such stories must be vetted and approved by Development and Alumni Relations communications.


At the editors' discretion, Penn State News will publish stories about officially endorsed fundraising efforts that directly benefit a University scholarship, endowment or research endeavor. All such stories must be vetted and approved by Development and Alumni Relations communications. In addition, these stories must focus on the benefits of the scholarship, endowment or research endeavor as they pertain to Penn State's mission of teaching, research and service; mention of specific, University-endorsed fundraising efforts is permitted, but should not be the focal point of the story. Stories whose primary focus is on fundraising, including follow-up stories that remind readers that there is "still time to contribute," are in conflict with Penn State News' editorial policy on solicitation and will not be published. Final decisions in all such matters will rest with the Penn State News editorial team.


Penn State Research Communications will consider for publication stories about:

  • Grant awards of $1 million or greater;
  • Peer-reviewed papers, which includes papers presented at a conference or published in a peer-reviewed journal;
  • Books that are scholarly in nature, but are not text books, technical manuals, edited pieces (e.g. anthologies), or co-authored (unless co-author also is at Penn State).
  • Administrative stories as requested by the vice president for research (such as news about research expenditures or new NSF rankings).


Event announcements (listed here: that are submitted for publication on Penn State News and related platforms should meet the following criteria:

  • Each entry will include the title of the event, the time, date and location, and a link for more information.
  • Items should be timely in nature, and should be scheduled to occur no later than two weeks from the current date, and no sooner than 24 hours from the current date.
  • All featured events must be open to the public. News of closed events will not be published.
  • Information about an event should be submitted only once. Repeat announcements about the same event will not be published, unless the editorial staff makes an exception for an item of special significance.
  • If a previously announced event has been canceled, a cancellation notice may be published.

Coverage of new apps / software

A story about a newly developed app or other software can be considered for publication on Penn State News, at the discretion of editors, if all following conditions are met:

  • The app is free and does not contain in-app purchases.
  • The app is written by one or more Penn State students, faculty members or staff members and relates to their own learning, teaching, research and/or service to the University community.
  • The app does not compete with an existing University supported service, nor does it provide a service that pertains to the University’s core operations.
  • The app does not encourage users to engage in recognized high-risk behaviors.
  • The app does not violate Penn State trademarks by using Penn State-related names or marks.
  • The app does not require or encourage users to create accounts using a University-issued email address.
  • The app does not collect personally identifiable information, such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and driver's license numbers.
  • All related coverage will include the following disclaimer: "This story is informational in nature and should not be considered an endorsement of any product or application."

Photo guidelines

The following are the general guidelines followed by editors as they consider photographs for Penn State News. All photos are subject to review and editing. Final decisions for inclusion of a photo rests with the editorial staff of Penn State News.

Use: Photos that appear on Penn State News will be subject to Creative Commons licensing. They will be made available, royalty-free, for noncommercial use by Penn State units, news media outlets and others. (Please see Penn State’s photo use policy for media organizations and others, located at the end of this section.)

Photo manipulation: All photos should remain unaltered, unless clearly marked as a photo illustration. Images that have been manipulated should not be published on Penn State News.

Resolution: If at all possible, photos should be at least 150 DPI in resolution. Photos in Penn State’s database are available for printing in certain situations, so resolution is critical. Low resolution / “pixelated” photos will not be published.

Caption: Each photo should be published with a complete, sentence-style caption. Captions should identify all people in the photo, regardless of age; the name of the location where the photo was taken; the date on which it was taken; and other pertinent information. Captions should read like something you would expect to see in a news publication. This applies to head-and-shoulders photographs of individuals, as well -- at a minimum, the caption on a head-and-shoulders photograph should contain the individual’s full name and title.

Credit: Whenever possible, include a photo credit.

Candid vs. Posed: Photos published on Penn State News should be candid in nature. With the exception of professional head-and-shoulders shots, posed photos should not be used. This includes group photos, photos of two or more people smiling for the camera, posed photos of check or award presentations, etc. Photos of a speaker at a podium are acceptable, but should be avoided if better alternatives exist.

Focus: Photos that are out of focus will not be used.

Penn State photo use policy

The photos owned by Penn State and displayed with news stories at, at and on the University’s official Flickr account at are free to media representatives for purposes of news coverage, as well as available to individuals for private, not-for-profit use at no charge.

Use of Penn State’s images in commercial, non-news-related publications and websites, or any other for-profit use, is prohibited.

Appropriate credits for each image must be used. If a credit is not listed with the image in question, the credit should read “Image courtesy of Penn State.” Penn State’s Office of Strategic Communications reserves the right to withhold access to images if false representation is suspected or there are questions about intended usage.

Copyright restrictions may apply to non-Penn-State photos displayed on the websites listed above.

Video guidelines

All videos submitted for publication on Penn State News and related platforms are subject to editorial review by the Penn State News and Media Relations Editorial Team. Though professional production quality is not required, videos should be of acceptable quality and content should align with the University’s strategic goals.

Closed captions: All videos on Penn State News must be closed captioned -- there can be no exceptions.

University Policy AD 25: Videos that fall University Policy AD 25’s definition of a “marketing or promotional video” must be reviewed by the Department of University Marketing in Penn State’s Office of Strategic Communications. Read the entire policy here:

Video captions:  Each video should be published with a complete, sentence-style caption. Captions should briefly describe the content of the video and provide other pertinent information.

Last Updated October 19, 2016