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Working together more than just a phrase

Posted by on Oct 15, 2018 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Stan Zoller, MJE
More than a few years ago, I produced a corporate television show designed to inform the United States sales force of a major corporation about new sales, existing customer successes and general corporate information.

It was also quasi motivational and one of the anchors’ walk-off lines was  “Working together, we make the difference.” Remember, I produced the show, I didn’t write the copy.

However, as trite as the walk-off for the show was, there is more than a fleeting truth about working together. Especially when it comes to scholastic press rights.

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‘Stupid teen stuff’ in student media
can alter history, shape future

Posted by on Oct 2, 2018 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by John Bowen, MJE

Private jokes, misleading and fabricated information have no place in yearbook journalism. In any journalism.

To simplify, in a Sept. 27 hearing about whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh should become a justice on the U. S. Supreme Court, a yearbook sparked controversy years later about the meaning and truthfulness of some content.

People and events around that yearbook and some people noted in it led to an expanded FBI investigation and the attention of millions of people across the country.

In an email to JEA’s listserv, Steve O’Donoghue of California called what happened “an object lesson to every yearbook adviser.

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Start the year strong while
promoting students’ press rights

Posted by on Sep 10, 2018 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Lindsay Coppens

The Harbinger Adviser, Algonquin Regional High School, Northborough, Mass.

Although we may want to jump right into the business of putting out the first print issue or filling the website with killer content, there are steps you as an adviser can take at the beginning of the year to help your publication’s staff start strong while fostering their independence. These steps all connect with communication and establishing good relationships.

• Have a meeting with your editors-in-chief and the school principal.

It’s always a shame and usually doesn’t bode well if the first interaction between editors and administration is a negative one. Start off the year with good communication and establish a good working relationship with your school’s administration. While you may act as a facilitator at the meeting (or hopefully  just sit back and listen to most of it), it would be best for the student editors, not the adviser,  to contact the administrator for this meeting. This emphasizes the principal and editors should be the ones directly communicating most of the time, not the adults.

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Time for informed civic engagement

Posted by on Aug 20, 2018 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

2018 is the season of the which

by John Bowen, MJE

Student journalists must learn to face key questions this fall, not only in terms of scholastic media but also in terms of informed civic engagement:

For example, which information inundating them deserves their belief and active support and which deserves their active skepticism:
• Which version of the truth about collusion in the issues surrounding election meddling?
• Which vision of what America stands for will prevail in the 2018 midterm elections?
• Which political, social, scientific, medical, cultural and educational positions most accurately present reality?
• Which skills will students develop so they cannot only tell the difference between information, misinformation and disinformation but act successfully on those differences?

Responding and acting on these questions – and others below – are among the SPRC’s mission this year.

In other words, when students question authority, as citizens or journalists, they must also question what authority said, authorities’ credibility and reliability and what authority has to gain.

Some call this skeptical knowing or learning. Not cynicism. Not the attack dog theory of media.

The watchdog.

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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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