Pages Navigation Menu

Tips for audio reporting of protests, walkouts

Posted by on Mar 21, 2018 in Blog, Broadcast, Digital Media, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Video and audio by Lucie Rutherford. Used with permission Part of HHS Media, Harrisonburg High School’s coverage of students, faculty and staff lined up to show solidarity with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High where 17 died in a shooting Feb. 14.

Knowing how to prepare and work with audio in covering protests, walkouts. SPRC member Vince DeMiero and junior Marianne Nacanaynay of  talk about solutions to audio issues.

Read More

Handling online comments QT34

Posted by on Nov 29, 2017 in Blog, Digital Media, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Deciding whether to accept online comments can be a tough decision they can carry a lot of baggage. How to review and verify them? How does refusing to run them affect your forum status?

And that’s only the first decision.

Next come a choice of approving them before posting or posting the then reviewing, which can result in takedowns.

Whatever decision students make, they should not make it lightly. Having enough students to monitor the letters in a timely manner is but one question to be answered.



Student media should accept letters to the editor or online comments from outside the staff to solidify their status as a designated public forum where students make all final decisions of content. This allows their audience to use their voices as well. Question: Should student media enable online comments?

Key points/action: Handling online comments seems to have three options:

  • Review them first and then post
  • Post and then pull down unacceptable ones
  • Don’t accept any comments online at all.

All three work, depending on the mission and policies of your student media.

Stance: We feel there are no quick and easy answers, but plenty of ethical room for discussion and implementation of workable solutions.

Reasoning/suggestions: Within the choices above, your students could:

  • Require authenticated identification of poster before posting
  • Initiate a verification system of the source and his or her information
  • Consider your mission and forum status before students make a decision
  • Decide how much person power and time do you want to devote to authenticating posts?
  • Decide how will your decision fit into existing policies and ethical guidelines?
  • Ensure online and print standards are consistent


Online ethics guidelines for social media

Questions student staffs should discuss before entering the social media environment

Online Comments: Allow Anyone to Post or Monitor and Approve First. An Ethics Lesson, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
Online Ethics Guidelines for Student Media, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
A Newsroom Guide for Handling Online Comments, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee

Related: These points and other decisions about mission statement, forum status and editorial policy should be part of a Foundations Package that protects journalistically responsible student expression.

Read More

Social media that works
in high school newsrooms QT33

Posted by on Nov 27, 2017 in Blog, Digital Media, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Social media has had such a profound effect on journalism that it’s sometimes hard to remember how traditional news functioned before it. Reading this 2009 MediaShift article is a powerful reminder that Twitter wasn’t always the source of breaking news. In fact, as author Julie Posetti wrote just eight years ago, “Some employers are either so afraid of the platform or so disdainful about its journalistic potential that they’ve tried to bar their reporters from even accessing Twitter in the workplace.”

Not accessing Twitter in the newsroom? It’s laughable now. Yet for some high school newsrooms, this is still the case. Overzealous school policies banning the use of various forms of social media and cell phones at school cripple student journalists who need to learn these tools in order to survive and thrive in our new media world.

However, setting students loose with social media journalism without strong guidelines is just as problematic. Just as professional news producers such as NPR have developed thorough social media policies, advisers should work with their student edition board to develop a robust social media policy for their own publications.

A place to start when tackling this task is to look to professional models like NPR’s. This recap of a 2014 panel about the ethics of social media news is another good resource. For scholastic guidance, check out JEA/SPRC’s foundation materials or this 2012 Social Media Toolbox masters project — though a bit dated, it still contains some great lessons and ideas. For help convincing administration of the value of social media in the newsroom, Quill & Scroll’s Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism has a strong rationale and additional resources.

As you develop your guidelines, however, it’s important to consider both sides of social media journalism: not only how to use it as a tool to share information or report a breaking story, but also how to use it as a reporter seeking information — the importance of verification so not to spread misinformation. For this second part of the equation, the Columbia Journalism Review’s “Best Practices for Social Media Verification” and the Online News Association’s Social Newsgathering Ethics Code are good places to start.

Our student journalists deserve to use the same tools as the professionals, but they also need the same caliber of ethics and responsible practices to guide them. These guidelines must be specific, yet flexible, as social media platforms are constantly evolving. With guidance for how to post to social media as a journalist and how to use it as a reporting tool, students will be uniquely poised to take new media journalism to places we can’t yet even imagine.


Journalists should hold to the same ethical standards and guidelines for their use of social media as they do for print or broadcast. Editors should devise a social media guide with clear expectations and make sure all staff members are trained in the procedures before providing username and password information for shared social media accounts.

Social Media Post:

How can students use social media effectively in high school newsrooms?


Social media has become a critical part of commercial journalism: adult reporters use social media both as a reporting tool and as a news source. Student reporters should also use social media to distribute and research news, but they — like adults — need clear guidelines for its use.

Student journalists should hold their social media posts to the same standards as print, digital or broadcast news. Examining commercial social media policies and these JEA/SPRC guidelines will provide a foundation for editors to develop their own publication policy. Student reporters also need strategies for verifying information gathered from social media posts. The Columbia Journalism Review’s “Best Practices for Social Media Verification” includes tips from experts to help students use these sources.


JEA/SPRC Social Media Use, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee

NPR ethics handbook: social media, NPR

SXSWi 2014: Accurate, Fair & Safe: The Ethics of Social News, Storify

Social media toolbox, Hendrix Project

The value of using social media in journalism, Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism

Best practices for social media verification, Columbia Journalism Review

ONA Social Newsgathering Ethics Code, Online News Association


Read More

Student news media fulfill growing need:
covering local news no one else does

Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in Blog, Broadcast, Digital Media, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Cyndi Hyatt

Student newspapers – the new papers of record?

Nearly 350 teachers wearing white T-shirts, chanting slogans and holding signs calling for a fair contract lined the front of the high school before the September school board meeting. Philadelphia’s television news vans were there: Action News, Fox 29, CBS 10.

And so was the local paper, the school newspaper, the only print media present.

As local and regional newspaper circulation continues to decline, there is less and less local coverage for more and more communities. Residents of areas without the local paper sometimes have to look long and hard to read about what’s happening in their own backyards leaving them in the dark about most community matters including politics, policies and police activity. 

Because of this lack of local press, student journalism is now more important than ever. While the regional TV stations may air a 15-second voiceover on the nightly news about a local happening, the school newspaper can tell the full story and often is the only media outlet doing so. The school newspaper has become the paper of record for many areas.

Good student newspapers are authoritative and cover the local community unlike other media. Because of protected speech, they can be editorially independent.  The result is fair and balanced reporting with high standards for news gathering and writing, paying close attention to accuracy in detail and fact-checking.

The paper and its online presence are publicly available not only to the immediate school but through distribution to local merchants and public buildings, like libraries and municipal offices.

That night of the school board meeting, four student journalists covered the event, arriving at 6 p.m. and staying until the meeting adjourned at 9 p.m. They shot video and stills. They interviewed parents, teachers and students. They listened, recorded and took notes. They were present to document the entire event.

The week prior and the week after the meeting they contacted school board members and union representatives, reached out to attorneys representing each side, researched past contract negotiations, learned about process, past and present.

The result was an informative and timely news story that objectively told both sides – a story that informs the community, both the school and municipal stakeholders, what is happening in their local school district.

Student journalists’ news media matter. They mean more than ever to their school and surrounding neighborhoods because oftentimes they are the only voice of authentic and honest local news coverage.

They have become the paper of record.

Read More

Facing takedown demands requires
thoughtful planning of guidelines

Posted by on May 3, 2015 in Blog, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

sprclogoBecause student media takedown demands continue to grow and the JEA listserv recently discussed issues that could be involved in information takedown,  JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee reposts guidelines to assist students and their advisers who face these requests.

We agree with the Student Press Law Center’s Executive Director Frank LoMonte who said the SPLC has shied away from telling people a ”right way” to handle takedown requests, leaving the decision to their editorial discretion.

So, instead of a single guideline, we offer this set of resources to help students make informed choices.

In all situations, we recommend the SPLC’s existing work on the subject. We hope these guidelines will offer a roadmap if your students face takedown decisions.

Even more importantly, we believe in establishing guidelines to evaluate information before it is posted: Put Up recommendations might prevent facing unsatisfactory decisions later because a 15-year-old did not consider the implications of an ill-chosen comment or questionable image.

We urge advisers to train student reporters to verify information and use credible and reliable sources as more effective approach than taking down content.

If students decide information must come down, this resource from The Poynter Institute suggests thoughtful alternatives to just taking something down.

Below is a model ethics-staff manual statement, as part of our Foundations of Journalism policy-ethics-staff manual package. Such a statement or one similar, should be part of student media’s ethical guidelines and staff manuals.

Takedown requests
Ethical guidelines
Journalists may be asked to remove online content for any number of reasons. Just because content is unpopular or controversial does not mean a media staff should comply with such requests. When journalists meet their goal of producing consistent, responsible journalism, they likely will choose to leave the content in question online even in the face of criticism.

All media – including student media – provide a historical record of issues, events and comments. As such, content should not be changed unless there are unusual circumstances.

Staff manual process
Content should not be removed unless the student editorial board determines it is factually inaccurate or was otherwise factually, legally deficient at the time of publication. The staff manual should provide a checklist or guide students can use to determine whether a takedown request has merit.

• In some cases, student editors may take down a story because they determine the content warrants a one-time exception (such as fabrication or to protect a source).
• Reporters may elect to do a follow-up story.
• If student editors choose to remove content, they should publish a note on the site explaining when and why the content was removed.
• Takedown criteria should be outlined and explained in the staff manual.
• Create guidelines and procedures to ensure students only post information and images they feel meet standards of responsible journalism: Put Up guidelines.

5 Ways News Organizations Respond to ‘Unpublishing’ Requests, The Poynter Institute
Takedown Demands: Here is a Roadmap of Choices, Rationale, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
Respond to Takedown Demands, Student Press Law Center
Setting Criteria Before the Requests Come, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
10 Steps to a Put-Up Policy, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
Audio: Takedown Requests, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee, Press Rights Minute

Read More

Issues worth building lessons around

Posted by on Dec 10, 2014 in Blog, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Uncategorized, Visual Reporting | 0 comments

sprclogoAs we head into a break for the holidays, three issues and concepts stand out as worth some future  consideration.

• The First Amendment: In the land of the free, why are schools afraid of freedom by Charles Haynes.
Written by this First Amendment advocate following the JEA/NSPA Washington, DC, convention, the column challenges us all to question administrator misuse of First Amendment. The article cites instances of prior review to limit discussion of ideas and groups and the elimination of some groups from school student media coverage while permitting others. The last time I checked, ordering blanket silence on some groups served no educational value or pedagogy. Haynes likened this process as a fear of freedom and questioned such philosophy as a misplaced attempt to either make schools safe. He also urged all journalism programs in schools subject to prior review – or restraint – to build a campaign to end it. You certainly would have a legion of supporters.

• The epic Rolling Stone gang-rape fallout – and how major publications get it wrong. This is only one of many resources on this coverage that violated one of journalism’s basic principles: verify your information and ensure your sources are credible. Citing the premonition “something just doesn’t feel right” about a story, author Terrence McCoy leads with the story of Richard Bradley feeling the gang rape reported in Rolling Stone did not happen. Bradley, it seems, had some experience with this kind of thing before. He once edited Stephen Glass, McCoy wrote.

In a rush to get a seemingly wonderful story into print, journalists will not verify a story or have the right sources. Because such incidents happen more than we would like to admit, we must stress scholastic reporters like others have to go beyond pre-existing bias or view and learn to apply skills of skeptical knowing or crap-detecting or just plan digging to every story, every day and across every platform. It’s an ongoing lesson never to be dropped from our curricula or from our practices.

• A toolkit by the solutions journalism network and Pulitzer Center. This material caught my eye because it focuses on something we do not do enough of: Perspective reporting and identifying sources who strive for solutions. Historians have long said those who don’t learn about an issue or concept as destined to repeat it. Is it because journalists don’t do enough follow-up reporting, add enough perspective and address solutions? This particular piece might be just the right tool at the right time to help us not only report but to keep solutions or alternatives in the public’s eye. It’s certainly worth our time to investigate the concept and give its points a shakedown cruise. Even if our students do not deal with international issues, the principles and concepts presented are worth localization. Introducing at the scholastic level just might help students, whether they become commercial journalists or not, begin to know we need to think in terms of solutions as much as issues identification.

Read More