by Jane Blystone
Sometimes staffers are afraid to write stories about depression because the topic is too close to home, but the staffers of the Crimson Crier at Sparkman High School in Madison, Alabama, did that very thing this past school year.
Their adviser Erin Coggins shared the results of their work.
“We decided to do this package after a staff member spoke to us about her struggles with depression. It was a teary newsroom that day and the staffer was almost begging us to address mental illness in our October spread. We did. According to the counseling department, this spread evoked students to discuss their own battles with depression and mental illness. Teachers used the spread as a conversation starter and as English prompts. The two stories included on the spread are heartfelt and the graphics hit home. We are proud of how it turned out in the end.”
Broken Hearts and Broken Minds is an intense read and gives the readership opportunity to discuss this issue and encourages peers to seek assistance in times of depression. Filled with national statistics and localized relevance, this spread provides a strong approach for student publications across the country to begin to discuss teen depression and its impact in their student media.
Non-credible information? Misleading direct quotes?
Seeking permission to quote from sources or asking them to approve information?
Putting advisers into the position of making content decisions normally left to students?
Is this the nightmare scholastic journalism advisers ultimately fear?
It could just be students preparing for an April Fools’ issue.
Although every major scholastic journalism organization warns students and advisers about the dangers of April Fools’ issues, students still want to do them. In some cases, advisers report such publications are their most popular form of coverage.
By Kathy Schrier, MJE
Scholastic Journalism Week is here, and again we acknowledge and celebrate the important role of the student media in our schools.
We know of great schools boasting excellent journalism programs where student reporters are allowed to shine and are applauded in their school communities. Even if they are challenging authority or shining light on difficult issues, they do so with a clarity of purpose, and they command respect. We regularly hear these school names again and again in convention awards ceremonies.
Then there are schools where journalism programs struggle to survive; where there aren’t adequate resources; where there is administrative control over content. The door to the adviser’s office is revolving, and new faces come and go with alarming frequency. Students in such programs rarely attend state or national conferences. How does an adviser build clarity of purpose, while barely hanging on?
I say to advisers in these schools: Please don’t give up. Please know that your job is very important. Focus on ethical journalism and stress the importance of truth telling. Remind students that they are real journalists, and have much more power than they may think they have. Encourage them to ditch the horoscopes and to drop some real news into that space. Challenge them to find the stories of their school community and to tell them. They can become more credible, not just to their readers, but to themselves.
Struggling programs can be turned around, and JEA provides links to a long list of professional development opportunities and valuable resources. One is here at the Scholastic Press Rights Commission, where we work to educate students and their advisers of the rights and responsibilities they have been charged to uphold.
Scholastic Journalism Week provides an opportunity for strong programs to reaffirm their commitment to serve their school communities; and for struggling programs to find the inspiration and commitment to grow.
More than 25 years after the Supreme Court limited First Amendment protections for high school student journalists, a survey of students and media advisers attending a national scholastic journalism convention indicates censorship is a fact of life in many schools.
Of the 5,506 students and teachers who attended the National High School Journalism Convention in Boston, Mass., Nov. 14-17, 2013, 531 students and 69 advisers responded to survey questions asking about their experiences with censorship of student media.
Significant numbers of both students (32 percent) and advisers (39 percent) said school officials had told them not to publish or air something. Thirty-two percent of advisers reported a school official reviews the content of their student news medium before it is published or aired. And 60 percent of students said someone other than student editors had the final authority to determine the content of the student media they advise.
By Tom Gayda
I am a First Amendment fighter. I have long stood by supporting people’s rights to say and do what they want. But then came social media.
There is a fine line between what is right and what is wrong sometimes. Sadly, with the never-ending onslaught of posts, likes and tweets, the notion of acting responsibly has at times taken a backseat.
It isn’t my intent to curtail one’s First Amendment rights. However, I think we must all do a better job showing future adults that not everything in life is post-worthy and what one posts can follow a person for life.
There are responsibilities that come with one’s rights. And while one can basically say anything he or she wants on social media, that isn’t always the smartest thing to do. I warn my own students to think about the image they are projecting by their social media use. Dropping “f-bombs” like nothing might make one hip with their social circle, however others who see such warfare might think twice about interacting with the offender.
I also ask my students to tell me how it’s going to be when their kids are old enough to take advantage of the latest Internet craze and can see everything their mom or dad posted when they were teenagers. Ouch! (Never mind the dancing!) Life went on for millions of years without people sharing with the world their every innermost secret. Somehow we can survive with fewer posts.
Schools patrolling their students Internet activities hardly seems like a good use of time, however it is important kids know there can be consequences to what they post, be it legally or not. Many folks tend to get extra courage behind the safety of their smartphone. We can support free speech and teach how to use it responsibly.
Times are changing and so do the ways we communicate. Think first, and remember, everything you say today will be out there forever.
A committee with representatives from the Journalism Education Association, National Scholastic Press Association and Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society is pleased to announce the six winners of the 2014 First Amendment Press Freedom Award.
The award recognizes high schools that actively support, teach and protect First Amendment rights and responsibilities of students and teachers, with an emphasis on student-run media where students make all final decisions of content.
As in previous years, schools competed for the title by first answering questionnaires submitted by an adviser and at least one editor; those who advanced to the next level were asked to provide responses from the principal and all publications advisers and student editors, indicating their support of the five freedoms. In addition, semifinalists submitted samples of their printed policies.
2014 First Amendment Press Freedom Award winners are as follows:
Convent of the Sacred Heart High School, San Francisco, Calif.
Francis Howell North High School, St. Charles, Mo.
Kirkwood High School. Kirkwood, Mo.
Mountlake Terrace High School, Mountlake Terrace, Wash.
North Central High School, Indianapolis, Ind.
Townsend Harris High School, Flushing, N.Y.
These schools will be honored April 10 at the opening ceremony of the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in San Diego.
Two of the schools are first-time recipients: North Central High School and Convent of the Sacred Heart, which is not only a first-time awardee, but the second private school to ever be recognized.
“We are proud of each of these schools for supporting their student media as they practice critical life skills like decision making, critical thinking and civic engagement while informing their audiences,” JEA Scholastic Press Rights Commission chairman said.
This is the 14th year for the recognition. The award, which began with an emphasis on student publications, was originally titled Let Freedom Ring, and later expanded to include the other freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.
First round applications are due annually by Dec. 1. Downloadable applications for 2015 will be available on the JEA website in the fall.