Posts made in April, 2011

Stand up, shout out for student journalism


With the 2nd U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in the Doninger case, one thing is certainly clear: If we want to protect student expression rights and responsibilities, we are going to have to be the ones who stand up to do so.

SPLC executive director Frank LoMonte said the courts abdicated their responsibility to protect the basic human rights of vulnerable young people.

“Young people are going to have to organize and mobilize like never before to petition their legislators and members of Congress for better statutory protection,” LoMonte said. “This ruling is a wake-up call to every student in America that their rights are in peril and that they cannot depend on the federal courts to police even the clearest disciplinary overreactions.”

Adam Goldstein, SPLC attorney advocate, said the decision was flawed.

“It opines that students don’t have rights unless those rights are clearly established in light of the school environment,” Goldstein said, “as if students at home didn’t possess citizenship.”

It’s time for students and teachers to clearly highlight those rights.

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day. Embrace its principles to endorse student expression as a key constitutionally protected right of citizenship. Create forums to talk about how and why journalism is at the core of democracy and the building of citizenship. Demonstrate the viability of student decision making, critical thinking and responsible expression through student media that make a difference.

In short, stand up for the importance and legitimacy of First Amendment rights for these American journalists, whether they criticize or commend or simply report issues, placid or emotional.

We’ve said it here before, and now again: We must oppose policies and practices that limit student expression. We must stand up and shout out for student journalism.


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A chance to send a unique message about scholastic media and journalism


by Stan Zoller, MJE

What do our colleagues at school think of when it comes to journalism?  On May 3, World Press Freedom Day, we have the unique opportunity to let them know that scholastic journalists are not just students involved in a school media for fun.

They have the distinct privilege of practicing what the Obama Administration is imploring countries around the world to do — practice a free and responsible press.  With the bulk of the country’s practicing journalists scholastic journalists, we need to make administrators and teachers aware of the unique message sent by the SPLC and 39 other media and education organizations to the Obama Administration through a half-page ad in the April 15 editions of The Washington Post.

I will distribute a letter under the auspices of the Illinois Journalism Education Association, of which I am vice president, explaining the significance of the event in a letter.  I will distribute the letter to all faculty and staff members.  The Washington Post ad will be included.

If you would like a copy of the letter to customize for your school or to distribute to others in your area, you  can download it here.


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World Press Freedom Day letter includes scholastic media


The Washington Post today published an “open letter” to President Obama and Secretary Clinton today from the Student Press Law Center, JEA and 36 other journalism and free-speech organizations urging them to declare their support for freeing “the other half” of America’s press.

Our hope is scholastic media programs will download the letter and develop Action Plans and lessons around it to show support for freedom of expression for scholastic media.

World Press Freedom Day is May 3 and is hosted in the US this year.

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Student bracelets ruled protected speech


Students at Easton, Pa., middle school are now permitted to wear “I [heart] boobies” bracelets to school after a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled the bracelet wording as protected speech.  See more of the story on NPR. Once again, courts rule that students do have First Amendment rights.

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Freedom for the world’s press must include scholastic media, too


May 3. Washington, D. C.

World Press Freedom Day.

The first time since UNESCO started the event 18 years ago the United States will host it.

And the perfect time to call for its tenets to be extended to scholastic media in a country that promotes freedom – and responsibility – for every other nation’s media.

We join the SPLC and 38 other journalism and free-speech organizations in an “open letter” to President Obama and Secretary Clinton urging them to use this occasion to declare their support for freeing “the other half” of America’s press.

On the eve of the JEA/NSPA scholastic media convention, JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Commission urges you to do the same. Write an editorial. Create a community forum. Discuss the review and censorship of student media – if it occurs – in your school’s communities and show how it limits education and twarts critical thinking.

Step up and join these 38 organizations in fighting to extend press freedom to a significant group of Americans – you.


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