Posts made in February, 2010

Growing from SJ Week

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Here’s hoping your Scholastic Journalism Week has been a good one.

Aiming at providing more support for scholastic media, the Scholastic Press Rights Commission started some good things for this week that will continue throughout the year:

Our Student Partners program, 45words, is accessible through the menu bar above.  With this program we hope to involve more students in the commission’s outreach and early alert of First Amendment issues. Student work and communication can also be accessed through their Facebook page and Twitter site. The commission created Student Partners as a way to help students connect with their peers to support, protect and spread awareness about the First Amendment.

• Ourpanic button”  to reach contacts when you, your students or administrators need assistance using an interactive map. The “panic button” is also available from the menu bar above.

• Our Lifelines legal and ethical terminology exists in case you need to know what a term means quickly. We will continue to update the terms throughout the year. The list is available from the menu bar above.

• A renewed commitment to serve JEA members and their school communities through available assistance, discussions of important news and information and quickly disseminating breaking news.

Happy Scholastic Journalism Week, and wishing that every week brings success.

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Know who you’re gonna call…

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Need legal help or just simple advice?

The Scholastic Press Rights Commission’s “panic button,” an interactive map of JEA officials and those willing to answer questions is now available for your use. You can access the map by clicking on the link in the menu bar above or through the link earlier in this paragraph.

The map is part of JEA’s Adviser Assistance Program. Press rights commission members designed it as a first-level of support for students, advisers and administrators having questions about all areas of scholastic journalism but mainly issues surrounding scholastic press freedoms and responsibilities.

We hope it will add to a positive Scholastic Journalism Week experience. Many thanks to Kent State University journalism GA Stacy Stevenson for implementing the map.

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My first SJW has been amazing!

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I’m ashamed to admit this is the first Scholastic Journalism Week I’ve ever participated in during my five years of teaching, but what an experience it has been so far … and one I will be repeating annually until I retire.

I don’t say that because I’ve had some sort of life-altering experience or even one big thing that has changed the way I look at my job or the First Amendment or scholastic journalism.

Instead, it’s been a bit of a slow steady trickle of little things. Monday I asked my students to just fill out a little sheet about why they love newspaper or yearbook. And while I did learn who was just as sarcastic as I am, I also learned some really nice things about why students love scholastic journalism.

Tuesday was a work night for my newspaper staff. I had students who were there from 2:20 until 9 p.m. on a day when the paper wasn’t going to bed the next day. I spoke to an AP history class about the importance of journalism and journalists being free of bias and the general state of the media. A nice little discussion that popped up out of the blue.

Wednesday was a nice day of little triumphs as well. The Student Partners – follow them on Facebook or at twitter.com/45words – are starting to really get some stuff done. My newspaper staff made the decision to jump a 2,000 word profile on a wrestling champion from our newspaper to our website, an interesting decision in our new little world of scholastic journalism. The yearbook and newspaper kids started Facebook fan and friend drives to increase the reach of their groups. I personally was able to contribute eight new people to our drive in about the span of three minutes. Students on each staff sent thank you notes to the people they interact with most in the course of your duties – and I got great feedback from those people through e-mails. And finally, a photojournalism student told me I was her favorite teacher … in front of another one of her teachers. Nice!

And that was just me. Karen Barrett, up in Wheeling, Ill., told us Wednesday of the great things her students did to help keep one of her introductory classes. Sarah Nichols tweeted some photos of her staff participating in Chad Rummel’s Bring It Day that he shared on the listserv – I’m using it too, my editors love it! – and Aaron Manfull posted some interesting numbers on jeadigitalmedia.org about web traffic from scholastic news websites from around the country. I’m still trying to figure out what those numbers mean to my newspaper staff, but they are a nice instrument to have and enable us to kind of compare what we are doing on the web. Carrie Faust put the smack down on some ignorant folks out in Ventura, Calif. in the comments section of a story about some parents who were attacking the student journalists who conducted a survey about sex in their high school.

I’m positive I’ve missed some great things that you all, my colleagues, have experienced this week. Share what you’ve been for SJW in the comments section of this post. They don’t have to be huge deals, it’s those little victories that keep us going.

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We want you to celebrate a few good forums

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Since it’s Scholastic Journalism Week, let’s do some celebrating.

In the past, we have sought student media which are not forums for student expression.

Let’s try a positive statement: We want recognize student media that are forums for student expression, either by policy or practice.

Forums for student expression are thus defined:

• Forums by policy: An official school policy exists that designates student editors as the ultimate authority regarding content. School officials actually practice this policy by exercising a “hands-off” role and empowering student editors to lead. Advisers teach and offer students advice, but they neither control nor make final decisions regarding content.

Forums by practice: A school policy may or may not exist regarding student media, but administrators have a “hands-off” approach and have empowered students to control content decisions. Advisers teach and offer students advice, but they neither control nor make final decisions regarding content.

To make it easy to compile the needed information, let us know your status as a forum for student expression by leaving a comment below or leaving a note on the commission’s Facebook page.

Join us in celebrating a key part of Scholastic Journalism Week: acknowledging those who practice the most important 45 words of our democracy.

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How important is public forum status?

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Because it is Scholastic Journalism Week, I wanted to share a question raised at a conference sponsored by the McCormick Foundation and the Illinois Press Association earlier this month.

The question: Should the groups involved endorse public forum status as a prerequisite for any kind of protocol process that might be established or should any protocol designed allow schools to decide what works best.

What do you think?

How important is being designated or practicing forums for student expression to student media and their ability to fulfill their functions?

Your input – and maybe anecdotes – are important, especially this week to show how the forum concept has or has not made a difference in your school’s journalism education.

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