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Must reads for after Scholastic Journalism Week


sprclogoAs Scholastic Journalism Week ends, we don’t want to lose sight of issues students and advisers continue to face.  Some are as old as Hazelwood; some much newer and raise additional concerns.

• Active voice: SPLC project strives to empower women in student media
SPLC Executive Director Frank LoMonte told attendees at the organization’s 40th anniversary that “the non-profit organization has noticed a trend: girls most often stand up and report on serious issues within their schools and communities. They’re also the first to be shut down.” Hence, a new SPLC project, Active Voices.

• High school students, teachers confront student media censorship
Another in a series of surveys of scholastic student journalists and their advisers at national scholastic journalism conventions shows –again – that censorship is a fact of life in many schools. Of 6,406 students and teacher who attended the NSPA/JEA Washington, D.C. convention in the fall, 52 percent of student respondents said someone other than student editors had the final authority to determine content of the student media.
Other censorship studies include:
• New research shows administrators know more about the First Amendment but don’t fully grasp it
•High school students, teachers ex;eeriness student media censorship


• One man crusades for students’ social media rights nationwide
Attorney Bradley Shear discusses how his work could help make Maryland the 13th state with a law protecting the social media privacy rights of students in colleges and high schools. SPLC podcast.


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Students support peers across the country in censorship case


Part four of a series – Making a Difference

In celebration of the anniversary of the February 25, 1969, United States Supreme Court Tinker vs. Des Moines, the JEA SPRC Making a Difference project salutes the The Foothill Dragon Press at Foothill Technology High School in Ventura (Calif.) for their support of fellow student journalists across country at the Playwickian, at Neshaminy High School (Pa.).

When student journalists at The Foothill Dragon Press learned that their peers were being censored, they posted this editorial on their website, entitled When one student is threatened, we are all threatened.

Their adviser, Melissa Wantz wrote “When the Neshaminy School Board in Langhorne, Pa., decided to rewrite district policy to prevent student editors at Neshaminy High School from prohibiting the word “Redskin” — a term the newspaper voted to ban from its pages — my students decided to use their editorial power to denounce the school board and to support the Playwickian newspaper staff. The day after the editorial was published online at www.foothilldragonpress.org, it was quoted or linked on social media, email and in an article published by the Student Press Law Center.

After researching and writing this editorial over a weekend, The Foothill Dragon Press journalists suddenly understood what it might feel like to lose their freedom and how they have to be prepared to fight for the First Amendment. The staff of the Playwickian expressed gratitude for The Foothill Dragon Press support by using their free speech rights to publicly comment beneath the online editorial.”

In September, the Playwickian staff had funds removed from their publishing account and one of their editors, Gillian McGoldrick, was suspended from her editorial position for a month. The adviser, Tara Huber was also suspended for three days without pay, because she did not censor her students for their practice of banning the term “Redskin” in their newspaper.

Once again the Foothills Dragon staff rose to the challenge and started an independent, national fundraiser to help pay for the publishing funds removed and the three days of pay the teacher lost as a result of the administrative discipline. That fundraiser surpassed the $2,400 in two days and reached a total of $6,810 to support their peers.

Like Mary Beth Tinker and John Tinker, these student journalists in Ventura, Calif., have made a national difference along with their peers in Langhorne, Pa. via scholastic journalism.

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Seven schools win
First Amendment Press Freedom Award


sprclogoA committee with representatives from the Journalism Education Association, National Scholastic Press Association and Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 First Amendment Press Freedom Award.

The award recognizes public and private high schools that actively support, teach and protect First Amendment rights and responsibilities of students and teachers, with an emphasis on student-run media where students make all final decisions of content.

As in previous years, schools competed for the title by first answering questionnaires submitted by an adviser and at least one editor. Those who advanced to the next level were asked to provide responses from the principal and all publications advisers and student editors, indicating their support of the First Amendment. In addition, semifinalists submitted samples of their printed policies.

2015 First Amendment Press Freedom Award winners are as follows:

Chantilly High School, Chantilly, Virginia
Francis Howell North High School, St. Charles, Mo.
Kirkwood (Mo.) High School
Mountlake Terrace High School, Mountlake Terrace, Wash.
Smoky Hill High School, Aurora, Colorado
St. Louis Park High School, St. Louis Park, Minnesota
Whitney High School, Rocklin, California

These schools will be honored April 16 at the opening ceremony of the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Denver.

Four of the schools are first-time recipients: Chantilly High School, Smoky Hill High School, St. Louis Park High School and Whitney High School.

“We are proud of each of these schools for supporting their student media as they practice critical life skills like decision making, critical thinking and civic engagement while informing their audiences,” John Bowen, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee director said.

This is the 15th year for the award.

First round applications are due annually by Dec. 15. Downloadable applications for 2016 will be available on the JEA website in the fall.

Information is also available at the JEA site:

•Long version:
•Short version:
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Entry posting for Picture Freedom begins Feb. 22


There’s still time for students 13 and older can win a $1,ooo scholarship by sharing     photos and artwork that illustrate freedom of expression in the Picture Freedom contest. 160x600-picture-freedom

Obtain information about the contest here.

Click here to download the official rules. A guest column by Ken Paulson, president of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center, and the contest’s media ads are available for publishing in print and online.

Contestant entries must be submitted via a public posting to the social networking sites Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or between the hours of 12:00:00 AM EST on Feb. 22, 2015 and 11:59:59 PM PST on Feb. 28, 2015.

The entry must contain the hashtag #PictureFreedom (not case sensitive) and must be accessible to the general public (remove all privacy settings relating to this post or tweet).

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