Pages Navigation Menu

Invading privacy still a concern
in today’s public world

Posted by on Apr 23, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Candace Bowen, MJE
One area of unprotected speech is getting harder to teach all the time – partly because a fair number of students and even some adults appear not to care about protecting it.

“Unwarranted invasions of privacy” – one of the nine categories of speech the government can prohibit or even punish someone for using  – is becoming increasingly problematic.

I assigned a paper discussing the their biggest legal worry to college juniors in my Teaching High School Journalism class. One student’s response surprised me. Usually they’re concerned about libel or copyright violations, but Gabrielle started her paper this way:

“The one that I am most concerned about is invasion of privacy. By the time that I am a teacher, my students will have lived their whole lives with the presence of the Internet constantly pressing in on them. They will never know a life without social media, online search engines, and other means of obtaining personal information. I think that this will give students the wrong assumption that all the information they have access to is fair game when it comes to reporting.”

And she’s right. According to the Student Press Law Center’s “Law of the Student Press,” the legal concept of invasion of privacy claims first came up during the era of Yellow Journalism, when media were trying to out-do each other with sensational stories that could sell their papers. That concept was largely under control for about a century when the Internet with blogs and social media plunged audiences back in the world of teaser headlines about private information.

But what are these privacy issues student journalists should know about?

According to Findlaw, an invasion of privacy is “an intrusion upon your reasonable expectation to be left alone.” This can be broken into four main types:

  1. Appropriation of Name or Likeness
  2. False Light
  3. Public Disclosure of Private and Embarrassing Facts
  4. Intrusion on solitude

The first two are fairly clear-cut. In the school setting, advertising managers need to think about appropriation: Get a photo release if you’re using someone’s picture in an ad.

Photographers should think about false light: Don’t use a photo of people if it looks like they are doing something they aren’t – particularly if what viewers will think makes them look bad.

A school in Illinois avoided a legal case but still learned a good lesson when the photo of a teacher walking down the hall with a cafeteria tray was used to complain that faculty were taking food out of the lunchroom when no one was supposed to be able to do that. Later the staff learned it wasn’t food on the woman’s tray but papers and a gradebook.

The other two legal claims are a bit more complicated. According to the Student Press Law Center, private facts have to be (1) sufficiently private, (2) sufficiently intimate and (3) highly offensive. Clearly it would be hard to argue that publishing something someone had tweeted or posted on other social media was very private at all.

However, the SPLC warns that anything dealing with “a person’s sexual behavior, medical/psychological history or financial affairs” should raise red flags, and student journalists should consider these risky because they could easily be sufficiently intimate for a successful invasion of privacy suit.

Highly offensive is more than just embarrassing, and it, too, should be considered carefully if a reporter thinks such information has to be included in her story.

The fourth type – intrusion – is more about gathering the information than necessarily publishing it. That means interaction in the main hall of the school or the football stadium is fair game for photographers (though some photos might not be ethical to publish… but that’s another discussion). In those places, not one has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

However, be careful of trespassing to gather information. Recent demonstrations could be an example of such a problem. Yes, reporters and photographers have a right to gather news, BUT that doesn’t always mean they can go everywhere, and it definitely doesn’t mean they can break laws just to get a story.

According to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, “In recent years, some reporters have been swept up in mass arrests during protests. Other reporters and photographers have been injured or fined while covering protests. Journalists often are surprised to learn that they don’t have a First Amendment right to wander wherever they please at a demonstration. What a reporter considers aggressive reporting is often an officer’s idea of disorderly conduct.”

When one of these situations arises as the staff discusses the next stories and photos they will be producing, it’s time to check how legal and how newsworthy their ideas are before they go any further.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This concern is amplified by the presence of social media. If I ever run a student media platform like the news paper, I hope that my students are able to cover interesting and thought provoking stories. My concern would be that students would use unprofessional avenues to retrieve information on the people they write about, especially their classmates. It is very easy to cyber stalk people to gain access to information. I feel that I am fairly competent at finding information online. I can only imagine how skilled my future students will be at the same research.

 

 

 

 

Read More

Advocacy and journalism:
coexistence or natural conflict?

Posted by on Apr 19, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by John Bowen, MJE
Initially came the mass shooting of 17 students and school staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida.

Students and scholastic media reported the issues surrounding the shootings and the followed student protests, trying to make sense of it all.

Then came discussion among journalism educators about student advocacy and journalism. Should the two travel together? Can they coexist in the same newsroom?

Now is the time to assess those questions, and more.

In a chapter titled “What we need from the ‘Next Journalism'” in their book, Blur, Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel  look how questions like these might identify purpose, roles and focus of media in the future.

“Strip away platform. Strip away technique. Strip away culture,” they write. “What function does a newsroom serve in its community? What is its essential purpose, apart from generating revenue?”

Student journalists raised the essence of that question when they reported social issues and events surrounding the shootings at their school. Thousands of other teens, some student journalists, joined in, bringing praise as well as anger, ultimately participation innational marches and protests.

Journalism educators  prepared their students not only to report the events and the issues, fulfilling their social role  responsibility. They also embraced the leadership aspects of journalism by guiding students as they made coverage and action decisions.

Mix the leadership and growth of student voice with the concept of journalism as advocacy and we create debate on the essential purpose and role of scholastic journalism.

After all, muckrakers like Nellie Bly, Lincoln Steffens and Ida M. Tarbell rerouted the scope of journalism.

Perhaps this present confluence of two major points – change in journalism and a regrowth of advocacy – can fuel the expansion of New Voices and propel scholastic journalism into examining issues and potential solutions.

“Telling stories is not the answer. Neither is delivering the news, or even monitoring government. All those have been a part of it historically,” Kovach and Rosenstiel state in Blur. “But we think the essential function is something broader and more conceptual, and the future of journalism depends in part on embracing the broader notion.”

The authors specifically mention verification, synthesis and making sense of information presented as parts of that larger notion of essential journalism.

It is time to expand the discussion to include the broader notion of scholastic journalism’s future roles and whether advocacy is among them..

In the next month or so we will develop and discuss what these potential changes might mean to scholastic journalism, provide background and perspective and share activities and lessons, grow discussion and spread possibilities.

 

Read More

Use of VR by scholastic media QT 60

Posted by on Apr 17, 2018 in Blog, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

 

Key points/action:

According to its proponents, Virtual Reality offers virtual and immersive storytelling that puts audiences into the scene and enables them to feel such emotions as fear. VR, proponents say, gives people authentic reactions of those in the real situation.

Commercial news media, and others,k are trying VR out across the country. Columbia Journalism Review calls VR “ascendant,” and cites ongoing projects like Harvest of Change and Project Syria. CJR also cites growing consumer interest in VR.

Despite commercial use and excitement about VR’s use, questions still remain for its use in scholastic media. The best thing for staffs to consider is whether using VR as telling stories or presenting news is the best platform or approach.

Some questions:

• Accuracy of context?

• Does its use reflect the preciousness of the real event?

• Is the information expressed in context?

• Are the images accurate and in context?

• Has nothing been added not in the “live” event itself?

What guidelines should student media adapt or create for VR that maintain the best of journalism’s ethical standards?

Stance:

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

Reasoning/suggestions:

Before spending funds of the tools needed to make VR become a local and effective tool, student study how journalism organizations use it or plan to use it and how they handle ethical concerns.

ResourcesThe Future of News: Virtual Reality- TED Talks

Virtual reality is journalism’s next frontier – Columbia Journalism Review

 

Read More

Providing feedback QT59

Posted by on Apr 16, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Guideline:

Editors should conduct relationships with staff members in a fair and professional manner. By considering the program’s best interests above matters of personality, students will be able to work together in a positive and productive environment.

Social media post/question:

How can peer coaching may help staffers build positive relationships.

Stance:

Teaching students work together is paramount to building the teamwork aspect of student media. By implementing coaching, editors empower staffers by further owning their work. 

Reasoning/suggestions:

Coaching asks journalists to use the skills they already know. In The Coaching Way, Chip Scanlon writes, “It’s valuable as well because it draws on two basic skills you as a journalist already possess: the ability to ask good questions and the ability to listen to the answers.”

By asking the editor to approach the story as a reader, Scanlon adds the editor must listen and have empathy. “The ability to identify with another person’s point of view and to communicate that understanding. It requires a range of other skills and qualities, too, such as flexibility, confidence, a willingness to experiment, a keen awareness of another’s situation, and a genuine desire to help someone else achieve his or her goals.” Using this in a student media also empowers the staffer and requires the editor not to take charge.

Scanlon addresses the benefits of coaching and shows the importance of learning:

“1. To make use of the knowledge and experience of the writer.

  1. To give the writer primary responsibility for the story.
  2. To provide an environment in which the writer can do the best possible job.
  3. To train the writer, so that editing will be unnecessary.”

By implementing this approach to editing, staffers should improve and editors can better question the content in the story.

Resources:

The Coaching Way, Chip Scanlon, Poynter (More resources at the bottom of the article)

Read More

Limiting student emails QT57

Posted by on Apr 10, 2018 in Blog, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Guideline and policy

The school can’t keep students from using email addresses they create for communications related to their student media.

Nothing in Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) or Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) overcomes the First Amendment protections students have nor the rights they have under state law.

Key points/action: Talk to the Student Press Law Center for guidance on how to respond to this.

Stance:  Three points to note:

  • The school is not required by CIPA or COPPA to prevent the use of these publication email address that don’t go through the official school Google email service. So long as the school can attest it’s taking appropriate measures to protect students from harm that could result via these emails (training them how to use them and how to respond to inappropriate messages, making a faculty member like the adviser accessible to the students if they have questions or problems, etc.), they will have complied with any legal obligations under those laws.
  • There is no reason the school couldn’t give students on the publication staff a second email address connected to their publication role that operates under the same protocols as the students’ official school email address. This may not be a good option because of the access the school could have to publication-related messages, but it would be a way to satisfy the school’s concerns and get separate emails working more easily.
  • Gmail is not the only option for free email accounts for your publication staff. If your students could work around this by creating new email addresses via another service that can be accessed from the school computers, that might be worth considering.

Reasoning/suggestions: The more challenging issue is whether the school can prevent students from accessing those email accounts on school-owned devices. Again, the SPLC is probably best able to advise you and  your students,

Resource: Mark Goodman, Knight chair in Scholastic Journalism, Kent State University, September 2017.

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

How should student media
handle academic dishonesty? QT56

Posted by on Apr 8, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Dishonesty compromises the integrity and credibility of the student publication. The editorial board and/or adviser should address any instance of academic misconduct immediately.

Student editors should develop a clear process for handling academic dishonesty. Both media staff and school policies may dictate consequences for academic dishonesty. In addition to school consequences, other approaches could include removal or suspension from the media staff and publishing an apology.

Guidelines

Students should be honest in all stages of their work. Dishonesty is a serious offense and should not be tolerated. Dishonesty compromises the integrity and credibility of the student publication. The editorial board and/or adviser should address any instance of academic misconduct immediately.

Stance

Student editors should develop a clear process for handling academic dishonesty. Both media staff and school policies may dictate consequences for academic dishonesty. In addition to school consequences, other approaches could include removal or suspension from the media staff and publishing an apology.

Suggestions

In journalism, academic dishonesty is not limited to cheating and plagiarism. Issues especially relevant to student media include:

  • Fabrication — inventing quotes or other content
  • Non-contextual content — taking quotes, facts or other content out of their intended context in a way that misleads the audience
  • Manipulation of photos, video and text — editing or altering content in a way to change its meaning or misrepresent reality
  • Inadequate verification — failing to assure the veracity of information, quotes or facts for your story.

Resources

The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity, The Center for Academic Integrity

Journalism Department Code of Ethics and Conduct, San Francisco State University

The Medill Justice Project Ethics Book, Northwestern University

Our cheating culture: Plagiarism and fabrication are unacceptable in journalism, The Buttry Diary

Audio: Plagiarism, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee, Press Rights Minute

National Press Photographers Code of EthicsAudio: Creative Commons Licensing, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee, Press Rights Minute

 

 

Read More