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The importance of linking to reporting

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Links in online reporting provides context, credibility and transparency for coverage

by Kristin Taylor
You can’t click on a print newspaper, so why should we include links in digital stories?

The Nieman Foundation provides four main purposes for adding links:

  1. Links are good for storytelling.
  2. Links keep the audience informed.
  3. Links are a currency of collaboration.
  4. Links enable transparency.
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Promote online coverage with facts, without hype

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

When promoting, leave the rah-rah to the cheerleaderd. Supply the facts.

Guideline: Staffs should have clear guidelines for the tone of information published in social media. Although tweets are often used to promote people or events, that’s not the job of news media — student-run or otherwise. Remember to be a journalist all the time and provide facts, not opinion and hype.

Social media post/question:Social media doesn’t have to turn your publication into a cheerleader. Stick to news and information.

Stance: Whether you’re producing a print publication, a news website, a broadcast or a tweet, you’re in the news business and the story isn’t about you. Leave the rah-rah to the cheerleaders and supply the facts.

Reasoning/suggestions: Sometimes it’s a fine line, but think of it this way: You can notify your audience about an upcoming game, even tell them its significance and what to expect, but when you include something like, “So get out there and support our Fighting Eagles!” then you have gone over the line from news to promotion.

And that’s not a good thing.


Developing standards for social media use in your student media JEA SPRC

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Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Transparency maintains credibility, strengthens reporting


In order to maintain credibility, student reporters and editors should strive to be transparent in all aspects of their reporting. This includes revealing within the text of a story how interviews were obtained (if anything other than an in-person interview is used), giving proper attribution to direct quotes, as well as using indirect quotes to give attribution to ideas and details that come from sources. 

Reporters should also be transparent in how secondary source information was obtained (i.e. through a public records request, etc.).


Why is transparency important in student reporting? How can students be transparent in their reporting?


Student reporters should strive for transparency within their writing and student editors should confirm where information came from as part of their routine fact-checking duties before publication.

Key points/action:

  • Teach students that during the reporting process they should take thorough notes so they know where information comes from
  • Teach students how to attribute information using both direct and indirect quotes
  • Require student editors to do a “transparency check” before publication. While editing stories, if they are not sure where a piece of information came from they should discuss with the reporter the need to be transparent


Transparency is important in student media because it establishes credibility and combats the illusion of “fake news.” If readers or viewers know where the information came from, they are less likely to question its accuracy or claim falsities in the publication.

Bottom line: Be clear where information comes from so no one can question the validity of that information (or if they do they can take those questions to the source and not the publication/reporter).


Related:Attribution & Objectivity



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Student journalism is not public relations

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Scholastic reporters should not feel pressured to present relentless stream of utopia, glossing over problems to cover the ‘good stuff’

Imagine the American press was only allowed to report on good news. No mention of problems in society, no opportunity to speak out against injustice or corruption — just a relentless stream of positivity with the government overseeing every piece of content.

Chilling, right? Yet, for some student journalists, this scenario is a reality. Administrators feeling pressure to protect the school’s image may pressure students to present a utopian version of the school, urging them to gloss over problems and only cover the “good stuff.”

But student journalism, like commercial journalism, is not the same as public relations.

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Credibility strengthened with
use of sources in opinion pieces

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Writers should show they have done research and interviews in opinion pieces just as they do in objective reporting.

Doing this provides credibility and authority to their views. It also shows audiences the students are informed on the issue.

Each opinion story should show sufficient research which has informed the writer’s viewpoint.

Include sources in opinion writing for credibility, verification


In opinion stories, writers should demonstrate they have done sufficient research and interviews to inform themselves of all sides of the issue for which they are writing and/or to allow for right of response from subjects who may be mentioned in the story.

Social media post/question:

Why do I need to include sources if it’s my opinion?


The writer of an exemplar opinion story should have sources including in-person responses from stakeholders, sourced quotes from other publications or sourced background information.


Students often view the opinion pages of the newspaper as an easier assignment because the incorrectly assume all they have to do is write their opinion.

To maintain credibility with their readers and/or to show balance, publication staffers must show they have made every effort to inform themselves of all sides of the issue. They also must reach out to experts or stakeholders who may add to their story and/or who may be challenged by their story. Consider adding in, as one of your guidelines, that each opinion story should show sufficient research which has informed the writer’s viewpoint.


Persuasive writing: Take a stand

How to write an op-ed or column







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Diversity is a journalistic must

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

 Diversity in cultures , sources and ideas brings stronger coverage


Student media staffs should reflect the racial, economic, social issue and gender diversity of the schools they represent.

 Social media post/question: Diversity is important, but how do we accurately represent our school? Are we representing our school’s diversity in our student media?

Stance:Coverage and sources should reflect the school population and its various communities, including a wide range of sources who represent students and staff.

Not only should staffs represent the racial, economic, political, social and gender diversity of the school, they also need to examine their coverage of these groups. This coverage should be pervasive of all media areas and not just relegated to stories of conflict as noted in the Nieman Reports, Why Journalists Must Stop Segregating Stories About Race.

Reasoning/suggestions:Diversity is more than a buzzword. It needs to be a constant, honest conversation in the student media classroom. Students need to evaluate who they are covering and in what way the students are being covered.

A 2014 study by American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research “only 25 percent of African-Americans and 33 percent of Hispanics said the news media accurately portrayed their communities.”

We also must actively recruit students who reflect the student body to help counter this representation issue. However, it’s not enough to recruit these students. We must make sure the media room is a welcoming place for all students.

Students need to understand not everyone’s experience is like their own and no staffer can speak for a group of people. 


SPJ Diversity Toolbox, SPJ

4 Ways a Newsroom Can Address a Lack of Diversity, CJR

Why Newsroom Diversity Works, Nieman Reports

Why Journalists Must Stop Segregating Stories about Race, Nieman Reports

Race and Reporting, Nieman Reports

Journalism Educators Must Leap Diversity Hurdles, SPJ



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