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What are ethics?

Posted by on Aug 18, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Law and Ethics | 0 comments

Laws indicate what journalists must do, while ethics indicate what they should do.

Rooted in ethics, responsible and free journalism adheres to applicable laws and operates using professional standards to enhance student media’s reach and impact. Journalism, truly the cornerstone of democracy, starts at the scholastic media level, where students learn the legal and ethical implications of free media that make the United States unique among nations.

 

Guideline for staff manual

Student media should avoid mixing ethics guidelines with staff manual processes. While processes or procedures can include the verbs “will” and “must,” guidelines should be framed with “should” and “could.”

 

Why does our staff need ethics guidelines?

Journalism ethics at center stage, Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism:

Student journalists make ethical decisions daily, whether in advertising, design, information gathering or reporting. Ethical decision-making is essential and ongoing. Keep in mind that ethics are only guidelines. They do not represent standards for punishment or discipline.

Media view very few topics as “taboo.” High school student media should be prepared for worst-case scenarios. Imagine the potential for growth and responsibility when students have journalistic conversations with informed, sincere and open-minded adults before the “taboo” happens.

Differences between law and ethics, Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism:

A working knowledge of ethics can be helpful in reporting sensitive or controversial issues. A staff working its way through a list of questions to make ethical decisions solves problems before they occur. In the process, students generate valuable comments, discussions and considerations.

 

Student best practice

Develop an editorial policy outlining the legal and ethical responsibilities for student journalists. These resources provide context and/or offer potential models for policy development:

Foundations of Journalism: policies, ethics and staff manuals

SPRC model for ethical guidelines, process

JEA Adviser Code of Ethics

NSPA Model Code of Ethics

SPLC Model Guidelines for High School Student Media
SPJ Code of Ethics

Online ethical guidelines for student media

Yearbook ethics guidelines

Visual ethics

 

More SPRC materials:

Quick Tips: What should go into an editorial policy? What should not?

Editorial policies are the foundations for your journalism program. Often short, these statements address forum status, who makes final decisions of content and prior review.

Student media policy may be the most important decision you make

Students should understand while they can and should adopt best legal practices and ethical guidelines for their publication, the school district’s or school board’s media policy (if one exists) could impact the legal and ethical decisions of student editors.

Press Rights Minute: Ethics in Editing News Photos

Using Photoshop or other software to edit a news photo is unethical because it alters the truth.

 

Article: Obstacles and criticism can inspire, by Lindsay Coppens

Good, hard-hitting journalism can make people uncomfortable. It illuminates hardship, gives voice to the voiceless, questions the status quo, and encourages people to find solutions to problems. It can be challenging to secure important interviews for stories that pursue challenging topics. Those who agree to an interview may not want to answer all your questions. Editorials that question and challenge policy, procedures, and those in power may be accused of having a political agenda. However, if you adhere to strong journalistic procedure and ethics, these obstacles and criticisms can, in fact, help your journalism become even stronger.

 

Article: In plain view from public places

Photojournalists and free speech: What can and cannot be photographed continues to fall under question, bringing attention to photojournalists and igniting important First Amendment conversations. As part of other Free Speech Week lessons and activities, teachers may use this opportunity to incorporate key readings and discussion geared toward visual storytellers.

 

Article: A class activity to learn both law and ethics, by Candace Bowen

Not knowing the difference between law and ethics makes it difficult to teach these two concepts effectively. They are separate fields, though they do overlap in theory and practice, and plenty of journalistic situations require us to assess both legal and ethical components.

 

Article: Satire: easy to confuse when used out of context, by Tom Gayda

Is satire worth it? Maybe sometimes, but remember: most newspapers don’t include satire, so it is easy for a reader to get confused when what is a typical straightforward paper decides to enter the world of comedy. Perhaps a special publication for satire would be a better way to go.

 

Article: Lessons in transparency, by George, by Stan Zoller

Student journalists need to not only understand, but practice transparency. It’s not unusual for student journalists to want to take an ‘easy way out’ on a story and maybe use sources or materials that give them path of least resistance. Interviewing friends or colleagues in a club, sport or organization are not unheard of. Policy and procedure manuals should include a statement regarding transparency and any conflict of interest.

Resources: Fake or Fact? Seminar available via archived video

The 13th annual Poynter-Kent State University Media Ethics Workshop focused on fake news. Show your students panel discussions by accessing the archives. A lesson plan for scholastic students, created by Candace Bowen, also is available.

 

Want to know even more? See these links:

JEA statements on prior review (and definition of), photo manipulation, student free expression and more

Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism

Newseum case studies

Ethics resources from The Poynter Institute

The Elements of Journalism, American Press Institute

 

JEA curriculum links:

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Always Mean You Should

Another Way to Examine Ethics: Red Light, Green Light

Making TUFF Decisions

When Journalists Must Navigate Ethical Situations

Exploring the Issues with Anonymous Sources

With Freedom of the Press Comes Great Responsibility

Protest Songs and the First Amendment

The Importance of Dissenting Voices

When Journalists Err Ethically

Ethical Guidelines and Procedure Statements: Creating the Foundation

 

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Ways to celebrate Constitution Day 2018

Posted by on Aug 18, 2018 in Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

The Scholastic Press Rights Committee is again excited to provide lesson plans and activities to help you celebrate Constitution Day and the First Amendment. Constitution Day recognized Sept. 17 each year, and we have a trove of new and archived lessons and activities to help you raise awareness of the First Amendment’s rights and applications for students.

Take a look at the new lessons:

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What is copyright?

Posted by on Jul 31, 2018 in Law and Ethics, Legal issues, Teaching | 0 comments

When students violate copyright, they are stealing from the original copyright holder.

This reference area provides information on what copyright and fair use are, provides guidelines and provides best practices and copyright free resources.

 

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Alternative story forms for adding context

Posted by on Aug 29, 2017 in Blog, Lessons, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

 

by Candace Perkins Bowen

Title

Alternative story forms for adding context

Description
Fake news may just be incomplete news if it doesn’t provide the audience with enough context to really tell the story. That can happen with alternative story forms if they just add visuals and fluff but little real information. As The Poynter Institute’s Vicki Krueger describes them, these are “charticles, non-narratives, storytelling devices, ASFs and alts, among others. Some stand alone as a story, and some are supplemental: forms that clarify, complement and explain information in a traditional news story.” In her 10 ways to engage readers with alternative story forms, she offers guidelines for their use. However, a staff’s first decision is when and why to use them. Note that these are to clarify and explain information to avoid misinforming the audience. While alternative story forms can add visual variety, their main purpose is to accurately convey information.

Objectives

  • Students will practice improving the information conveyed by providing alternative story forms when useful.
  • Students will evaluate alternative story forms as ways to explain complicated messages.
  • Students will apply these lessons to generate ideas for potential ASFs for future media topics.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
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.

 

Length

50 minutes

Materials / resources

White board and markers

Handout: Alternative story form ideas and how to grow them

Access to the internet for seeing other graphics or printouts of them

Assessment: Exit slip to suggest a future ASF

Article: 10 ways to engage readers with alternative story forms

Lesson step-by-step

Step 1 — Provide a bridge (10 minutes)  

Students should read the Poynter article, 10 ways to engage readers with alternative story forms. Create a list of ideas and discuss as a class what students see as some they can use to add information to stories in the planning stages. How can these be both graphically pleasing and add some depth to the factual articles? Don’t spend a great deal of time on this as the class will return to it after the next activity.

Step 2 — Handout and activity (20 minutes)

In pairs, students should look at the handout, “Alternative story form ideas and how to grow them.” Have them assess the hypothetical students’ original ideas. Then they should look at the examples on the second page and in links. Discuss what makes these better and how the ideas they offer can be used to improve the original suggestions. Make a list about what improved these new ideas in general.

Step 3 — Large group discussion and feedback (15 minutes)

Discuss what students thought of the original ideas and how they were able to improve them. Then generate a list on the board of what, in general, made the new versions better (e.g. including number surveyed, indicating source of expert information, etc.).

Step 4 — Exit slips

Students should write down one idea they have for a future ASF for a project in the planning stage.

Extension

Students could start the creation of alternative story forms, either the idea used on the exit slip or another for some of their own stories that are in the planning stages. This could be a more complete explanation of the idea on the exit slip or another idea the student has.

Students could also sign up for Poynter Institute’s NewsU course, Beyond the Inverted Pyramid: Creating Alternative Story Forms, by Andy Bechtel. This self-directed online course is free and only requires registering with NewsU. It is designed to take about two hours to complete.

Additional resources

Tim Harrower’s The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook also has a lot about ASFs, including some pages accessible online.

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2017 Constitution Day lessons

Posted by on Aug 22, 2017 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Featured, Law and Ethics, Legal issues, Lessons, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Constitution Day 2017 is approaching, and several members of the Scholastic Press Rights Committee have come together to provide you with materials to help your students understand their rights and responsibilities. These lessons provide particular focus on the First Amendment and the freedom of speech in general, but they would be appropriate and effective in any class that touches on issues related to history, the Constitution, citizenship or journalism.

Since Constitution Day (Sept. 17) is on a Sunday this year, we’d suggest celebrating on the following Monday. For a quick preview of this year’s lessons, feel free to watch this video. Links are also provided, below, to the new materials as well as lessons from previous years that might be particularly useful.

This year’s lessons:

First Amendment School Dialogue, by Jeff Kocur: Guide your students through a class-sized (or whole-school) dialogue about the five freedoms of the First Amendment. Students will identify and evaluate the impact of the First Amendment in their own lives and the lives of others.

The Importance of an Independent and Active Press, by Matthew Smith: Expose students to the many possible benefits of independent media in a democracy through quotes and video excerpts of world leaders espousing the necessity of a free press. Students will evaluate and discuss their own reaction to these arguments.

Introduction to News Literacy, by Kristin Taylor: The freedom of speech and of the press come with responsibilities, too, and this lesson provides materials for recognizing different types of news media and coverage. Students will examine the credibility of news sources as well as examine their own media habits in order to beef up their news diets and avoid “fake” news.

What’s in Your State Press Law?, by John Bowen and Lori Keekley: As New Voices laws spread across the country to protect student journalists, help your students understand what their state does or does not cover when it comes to student press rights. Students will examine their own law and create a dialogue with stakeholders about the benefits of protecting student publications.

Sharing Your State Law with Others, by John Bowen and Lori Keekley: State laws protecting student press rights mean nothing if students, administrators, school boards and others don’t know what they mean or how they impact the community. For this lesson, students will create an action plan for the various groups in their community about the state legislation.

Previous lessons:

Materials from previous years are obviously still available and relevant. The links, below, take you to the full list of lessons from each year, but we’ve also provided a quick suggestion of a lesson from that year that might work particularly well with the new batch we created.

2016 (Check out the lesson on exploring and discussing the gray area between political correctness and free speech.)

2015 (Check out the Constitution of the United States Crossword for a quick hit.)

2014 (Check out the lesson asking students to evaluate what to do when people ask them to remove content already published or posted in a student publication.)

2013 (Check out these materials forcing students to evaluate the ethical considerations involved when stories or information could be highly controversial or harmful.)

Feel free to send any feedback or questions to Matthew Smith (matthewssmith17@gmail.com) or Jeff Kocur (jeffreykocur@gmail.com)

Constitution Day Committee

John Bowen, MJE, Kent State University (OH)

Lori Keekley, MJE, St. Louis Park High School (MN)

Jeff Kocur, CJE, Hopkins High School (MN)

Matthew Smith, CJE, Fond du Lac High School (WI)

Kristin Taylor, CJE, The Archer School for Girls (CA)

 

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