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Face, fight and educate
those who would limit media

Posted by on Aug 16, 2018 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism | 0 comments

by John Bowen, MJE
A Boston Globe article about its Aug. 16 campaign for media to speak out against President Donald Trump’s attacks on journalists called the president’s rhetoric ”alarming.”`

“Whatever happened to the free press?  Whatever happened to honest reporting,” the reporter quotes the president in an Aug. 2 political rally in Pennsylvania. “They don’t report it. They only make it up.”

The Globe seeks editorial comment from other media to stress potential damage to our democracy from the intimidation,  and the importance of an unfettered press.

In a way, the current round of attacks from the president and others have some roots in the 1988 U.S. Supreme Court’s Hazelwood decision. The court’s majority enabled public school officials to limit student expression – not just of student media but any expression in school – under certain conditions.

We now have a generation of teachers and administrators, let along their students, who have only seen media control in many  of our schools.

In a way, the current round of attacks from the president and others have some roots in the 1988 U.S. Supreme Court’s Hazelwood decision. The court’s majority enabled public school officials to limit student expression – not just of student media but any expression in school – under certain conditions.

Hazelwood and other decisions essentially created an expectation student media in public schools could and should be controlled.

If school officials frowned upon criticism, demanded a positive image and prior reviewed and restrained where information did not match their their view of what student media should be, that became the norm. Challenge it and students faced censorship, suspension, withdrawal of school recommendations.

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Maybe #Firstonthefirst initiative can help move the needle

Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 in Blog, Featured, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism | 1 comment

Maybe it was last night’s reflection on Anthony Kennedy’s final day serving as a Supreme Court justice.

Or maybe it was because I’m still recovering from the latest State of the First Amendment survey.

In case you missed it, more than one-third of the survey respondents (40 percent) could not name a single freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment. Only one out of the 1,009 people surveyed could correctly name all five freedoms.

That blows my mind, and I often think about what I can or should be doing differently to help move the needle outside the walls of my classroom.

So today I began what I’m calling #Firstonthefirst.

I made a commitment to talk to five strangers today and share with them about the First Amendment. I’m going to do it on the first of every month, and I hope you’ll join me.

It’s easy enough to visit with folks in line at Starbucks or the grocery checkout, or colleagues at school, or parents on the bleachers at your kiddo’s sporting event. A few minutes of conversation can make a huge difference. I want the people in my community to know the five freedoms and to have a better understanding of why the First Amendment matters.

To make a visual connection, I wore one of my First Amendment T-shirts, and I’ll do that for each #Firstonthefirst. There’s something about seeing those 45 words (or in the case of this shirt, my favorite of those 45) that makes it more memorable, and I hope to leverage the power of social media to spread this movement and get my students — and all of you — having these First Amendment conversations as well.

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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.

 

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The National Walkout

Posted by on Apr 2, 2018 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Cyndy Hyatt
This generation of high school students has grown up in a world where school shootings are common and just another event in the news. Although gun violence in schools has lost its shock

value, students still hold in the back of their minds the fear that it can happen here.

Before the Parkland shootings Feb. 14, there had been a recorded 18 school shootings in 2018. And then came the tragedy at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School where 17 people lost their lives at the hand of a young man with an AR-15 type assault rifle.

After the initial outrage, this story didn’t fade away like the other 18 this year. It was different. Students said ENOUGH and now we are witnessing an unprecedented student initiated movement to end gun violence, a movement that that led to the March 14 ENOUGH walk-out. That Wednesday at 10 a.m. students from coast to coast left their classrooms to join others in solidarity and protest.

Although some schools have threatened to punish students who participated, most seem to have supported this free-speech event. Open-minded administrations worked with student groups to support the walkout. They have recognized that student voices need to be heard and rightfully so.

The walkout appears to have been a successful exercise of First Amendment rights – to peacefully gather and protest, to speak out and to call others into action. And it was another opportunity for student journalists to cover a national event that most likely affected their own school as well.

This year may prove to be the year of the student-led protest and a new appreciation for the power of the First Amendment. And perhaps this will also be the year when students realize the value of uncensored student journalism, a way to hear voices and opinions without persecution or punishment.

 

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Stories students can best tell:
Reporting protests, walkouts and marches

Posted by on Mar 29, 2018 in Blog, Featured, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Between March 14 and March 24, the SPRC shared legal and ethical guidelines as well as coverage suggestions for reporting walkouts, protests and marches.

Because the topics are still ongoing and current, we’re loading all of our advice under one banner, for your convenience.

If you have other questions or examples of coverage you would like to share here, please submit them through the comments section below.

We intend to add material as needed or available.

Students, join movement to make change: Mary Beth Tinker
Legal issues in covering protests
Tips for reporting protests
Tips of audio reporting of protests, walkouts
Plan and pack for social media coverage of protests
More than a march: a civics lesson and a wake-up call
SPRC package offers  insights for reporting protests, marches
Reporting stories student journalists can best tell

Shared materials 

• Eric Garner shared this collaborative documentary created by the students of WMSD-TV at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as well as students and alum from schools across the country. It covers the days after the incident as the school begins the rebuilding, and healing, process. youtu.be/8EB5Uk5l660

• Coverage by Harker School of San Jose and San Francisco student marches. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JufhGhnFAbk

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More than a march;
a civics lesson and a wake-up call

Posted by on Mar 25, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Students lined up outside Buffalo Grove High School in Illinois re watched by security. Photo by Stan Zoeller, MJE, and SPRC committee member.

by Stan Zoller, MJE
The walk-outs by thousands of high school students on March 14 did more than call attention to a revamping of the nation’s gun laws, they also provided Americans with several other things.

A wake-up call.

A civics lesson.

And a realization that high school students today are doing what high school students did when I was in high school — speak up and demand to be heard.

When Baby Boomers were in high school, we dealt with Vietnam, equal rights for women and the lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18.

Vietnam was popular with very few people while the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the lowering of the voting age in Illinois via Project 18, sparked

divisive debates across generations.

The murders of students by gunfire appears to be no different as they seem to be awakening a generation that

discovered it has a voice that needs to be heard.

Parents, politicians and school administrators need to listen.

Two high schools in my hometown allowed students to participate in the March, although in different ways.

One allowed students to congregate only near the main entrance. The entire campus was off limits to anyone with one security office saying it was because the march was a “school event,” which make no sense. Neither does the comment by another security officer who said I wouldn’t be allowed to take pictures because many of the students were minors.

The district’s official position, said the district’s communications supervisor was “the District decided to restrict access to our campuses for a brief period this morning to ensure the safety and security of our students during this morning’s walkout. The decision to briefly restrict access is also in line with how most schools in the Chicagoland area handled the nationwide walkouts.”

She added that “These displays were student-led and peaceful, and our student leaders did a phenomenal job making sure everyone was back in the building when the 17 minutes were over.”

Spoken like a true flack.

It’s interesting that she said, “The decision to briefly restrict access” was “in line with how most schools in the Chicagoland area handled the nationwide walkouts.”

According a spokesman for the other school, “We had an estimated 2,000 students participate in the walkout (today). We reached agreement with the student organizers to have an organized march starting from the “circle drive” entrance and heading south along the building to the Garden of Peace, Hope and Remembrance. From there, students walked into the alley behind the school building to go back inside and return to class. The walkout went off without incident.”

While the school blocked its main entrance, access was available through a second secondary entrance without any problem.

The need for tight security is understandable. The display of local police officers at the first school was unprecedented for a “school event” – even the truck enforcement officer was there.

By limiting students — as many districts did – including one which allegedly told students they could march if they didn’t say anything political, are educators limiting the opportunity for students to become civically engaged?

One Chicago area district, Downers Grove District 99, reportedly issued nearly 1,000 detentions to students who were brazen enough to participate in marches at Downers Grove North and South high schools.  The detentions, according to one media report, were in an auditorium where there were conversations about gun violence.

A nice gesture, but what is the result of these conversations? Student voices need to be continuously heard in public, by the public and by lawmakers – not just by school administrators who are bent on control issues.  Gun violence is not the first issue to fire-up student voices.

A rash of shooting of African-American men in 2014 sparked the “Black Lives Matter” movement and was fueled by demonstrations and outcries le by young people who wanted their voices heard and action taken.

Which raises the question – is squelching student voices the best practice if we want today’s high school students to become more civically engaged?

This is not the first generation of young people to push for change.  All administrators need to do is crack open a history book and, as Mr. Peabody would say, “set the way-back machine, Sherman.”

They’ll find that what goes around comes around as it did in the Vietnam era of the 1960s. Students at the collegiate and scholastic levels were relentless in their actions and messages. Today’s students need to have that same relentlessness and resiliency, so their concerns become actions in the nation’s statehouses and in Washington, D.C.

People – whether students or not – need make sure their voices are continually heard and not silenced by overzealous school administrators or PAC-induced lawmakers.

People’s voices, not silence, will make a difference.

But only if people listen and act before it’s too late.

Again.

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