Pages Navigation Menu
PANIC BUTTON

Senior quotes, wills:
Can harm students, damage credibility QT65

Posted by on May 6, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Senior wills, April Fool’s issues and senior quotes sometimes can be considered the three Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

They  have minimal journalistic value and can quickly damage a staff’s –– and a school’s –– reputation and credibility.

Senior quotes present too much potential for damage and turn over too much control of your student publications to students who are not trained in legal and ethical considerations. Libel, innuendo, and bullying could be slipped into content, and it may slip past your editors or advisers, thus causing harm to students and damaging your publication.

Guideline:

Because senior quotes have minimal journalistic value and great potential for damage, they will not be used in school publications.

Social media post/question:

Senior quotes in your publications? 

Key points/action:

Students love senior quotes in the yearbook or newspaper, but what happens when a student slips something inappropriate in the quote? When does the editor decide what can and cannot go in? What if another student is bullied through a quote, and you don’t catch it? What if a double entendre slips in that no one recognizes? What if a student says something in September that they don’t want published in May? Can you guarantee every student will be equally represented?

Stance:

Senior quotes should be taken out of your yearbooks and replaced with better ways of telling student stories.

Reasoning/suggestions:

Senior quotes present too much potential for damage and turn over too much control of your student publications to students who are not trained in legal and ethical considerations. Libel, innuendo, and bullying could be slipped into content, and it may slip past your editors or advisers, thus causing harm to students and damaging your publication.

Read More

Circuit Court decisions support student freedoms QT 64

Posted by on May 2, 2018 in Blog, Legal issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Quick Hits: Student First Amendment Rights

Muzzle Hazelwood with strong journalism and status as a limited public forum. (Dean v. Utica Community Schools, 2004)

The principal of Utica High School told the student newspaper, the Arrow, to cut an article by student journalist Katy Dean, as well as an accompanying editorial and an editorial cartoon. The students had written about a couple, Rey and Joanne Frances, who were suing the school district. They claimed the idling diesel buses in the school garage next to their home had caused the husband’s cancer.

Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier allows administrators to censor for “legitimate pedagogical concerns.” The principal said the articles were based on “unreliable” sources and that the article was “highly inaccurate.” Perhaps these reasons were given as his legitimate pedagogical concerns.

The students published a black box with the word “Censored” across it in white lettering, and an editorial on censorship. A local newspaper later published Dean’s censored article.

The case was decided in the United States District Court in Katy Dean’s favor because of the Arrow’s status as a limited public forum, and on the quality of the journalism. (This is a different interpretation of “limited public forum” from the Second Circuit in Ochshorn v. Ithaca City School District..

Establishing a Public Forum in Practice and Policy

The judge ruled that the student paper was a public forum, even though it was produced by a class for school credit. He used the nine criteria established in Draudt v. Wooster. Because it was a public forum and therefore under Tinker,[link] not under Hazelwood, the principal had violated the students’ rights.

To determine if the paper was a public forum, the judge looked at the practice of the publication.  In its 25 year history, the officials at the school had never intervened in the editorial process of the publication. The students had no practice of submitting content to school officials for prior review, nor did the faculty adviser regulate the topics the newspaper covered. In practice the paper was a public forum.

School policy also supported the “Arrow’s” status as a public forum. The curriculum guide and the course descriptions provided evidence that it should enjoy the protections of Tinker.

Clarifying When Censorship is Permissible Under Hazelwood

Though the judge ruled the paper was under the Tinker standard, he also closely examined the censored article by Katy Dean using the Hazelwood standards of fairness, research and writing.  He found that, even under Hazelwood, “the suppression of the article was unconstitutional.” The school officials had claimed the work was “inaccurate” because they disagreed with the opinions of people quoted in the story. What the district called “inaccurate” was simply an attempt to disguise “what is, in substance, a difference of opinion with its content,” the judge wrote.  Even under the Hazelwood standard, the officials had violated the students’ rights.

In his decision, the judge quoted President Harry S. Truman: Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.

He also quoted President Dwight D. Eisenhower: “Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed.”

Dean v. Utica shows two avenues for student journalists to free themselves from Hazelwood. The first is to be a public forum in either “policy or practice.” The second is to produce high quality journalism.

Resources: http://s3.amazonaws.com/cdn.getsnworks.com/spl/pdf/deanvutica.pdf

http://www.splc.org/article/2004/11/dean-v-utica-community-schools

http://jea.org/home/curriculum-resources/deancase/

 

Read More

Decision protects students’ rights, since 1943 QT 63

Posted by on Apr 29, 2018 in Blog, Legal issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Quick Hits: Student First Amendment Rights

What, students have rights? Not until 1943 (West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette)

Before the Barnette decision, when students came into conflict with public schools, the courts decided their cases—often against the students—without mentioning students’ right. They considered if the punishment was excessive. (Beating with a rawhide strap was okay in 1859.) They also debated if it was the parents’ right or the schools’ right to discipline the students.

The First Amendment was never mentioned.

Gathie and Marie Barnett* were attending Slip Hill Grade School in Charleston, West Virginia when America entered World War II in December, 1941. The school district installed flags in classrooms (replacing pictures of flags) and required all students to salute the flag. The West Virginia State Board of Education passed rules in January, 1942 requiring the flag salute and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, which Congress would formally adopt in June, 1942.

The Barnett family, as Jehovah’s Witnesses, felt saluting the flag was a form of idolatry and a violation of their religion. As Gathie said some 60 years after the case, “We were taught that bowing down to the flag, saluting it, was like a bowing down and giving reverence to it—it was like an idol. So we believe definitely not to worship idols.”

The Supreme Court released its decision in the students’ favor on Flag Day, June 14, 1943.

Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote these memorable words in favor of students’ rights: If there is a fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official high or petty shall prescribe what shall be orthodox in matters of politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by work or acts their faith therein.”

Though the Supreme Court did not specifically address student press rights until 1988, the Barnette case is essential to student journalists. It restrains public schools from restricting students’ religious rights, the first freedom in the Bill of Rights. It established that students as young as elementary school are protected by the First Amendment.

Justice Jackson wrote, “That we are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes.

*A court clerk misspelled their name as Barnette

Resources:

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/319/624.html

https://www.oyez.org/cases/1940-1955/319us624

http://www.splc.org/article/2000/12/west-virginia-state-board-of-ed-v-barnette

Related issues and cases: http://jeasprc.org//?s=barnette&x=0&y=0

 

Read More

Six schools, 22 student journalists and 201 state legislators:
Lobby Day in Minnesota

Posted by on Apr 25, 2018 in Blog, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Lori Keekley, MJE
I had no idea how inspired I would be by 22 students from six different schools who joined me to lobby for the New Voices legislation March 19.

During the one day at the capitol, the students made signs, learned and practiced how to talk to legislators, lined the senate and house while legislators entered and talked to the press, but something else happened there too.

The students, some of whom have been censored by administrators, found their voice. They learned what it’s like to be civically engaged and to work to further the bill’s goal of clarification of the roles of student journalists and administrators.

However, my favorite part of lobby day wasn’t seeing the students interviewed by local media or the reports of how conversations with legislators went. Instead, my favorite moment happened right after the students lined the hallway for the representatives going into session.

After the legislators entered, a group of elementary students passed and they started asking the students present for lobby day questions. The questions ranged from “Wow, did you make that sign” to “You’re here to talk to them?”

The idea of these young student journalists inspiring the next group of active citizens makes me know that even if the student free expression bill doesn’t get heard this year, we are raising more children who will understand the importance of their voice — and maybe one of those elementary students will help facilitate even greater change.

After the lobby day finished, one of these students took over contacting more of the state senators as her community service campaign. Others have continued to ask what they can do if the bill doesn’t get heard this year, and two volunteered to lead the student group the following year.

While some may be surprised by the students taking on these ownership roles, I am not. I see this daily during my journalism class. Student leaders are in charge and making decisions while working to empower all voices — especially those marginalized.

As a teacher, I will continue to work to empower all of their voices and show the value of civic engagement. And maybe this still will be the year for Minnesota

Read More

What to tell your principal about Prior Review? QT 62

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

Quick Hits: Student First Amendment Rights

The bad news is that administrators may legally ask to see stories before they are printed or aired, but prior review leaves them in an awkward situation, because of the good news below.

The good news is that they generally cannot ask students to change anything or spike the story. That would be prior restraint, allowed legally only under narrow conditions.*

Prior Review is a bad idea for both students and the school. But how do you convince the administrations?

You have two strong arguments against prior review. The first is a legal argument, the second is a pedagogical one.

First, when administrators review student publications prior to publishing, they and the school district become responsible for its content and policies. These three cases show the protection schools enjoy when they allow student control of student media:

  1. Because Lexington High School students made all the editorial, business and staffing decisions for both the LHS Yearbook and the school paper, a suit brought against the district failed. The adults were sued because the student leaders of the paper had refused to run two ads. The school’s superintendent, principal, the two publication advisers and the five school members of the school committee escaped unharmed from the suit that alleged they were violating the First and Fourteenth amendments when the school publications refused the ads. (Yeo v. Town of Lexington (1997) in the First Circuit Court of Appeals)
  2. Because the students, not the school district, decided which senior portraits to allow in the Londonderry High School yearbook, the district was protected from successful suit for First Amendment violation when the students rejected a senior portrait with a shotgun. The judge found that it was not the school district that rejected the photo. It was the student yearbook editors. “The state has not, it seems, suppressed Blake’s speech. His fellow students have done so.” (Douglass v. Londonderry School District (2005) in the U.S. District Court for New Hampshire.) 
  3. Because the students of Roosevelt High School in Seattle practiced strong journalism and controlled the content of their student media, a lower court ruled in favor of the Seattle Public Schools and against slumlords suing the district for libel following an article in The Roosevelt News, “Sisley Slums Cause Controversy: Developers and neighborhood clash over land use.”  The lower court ruled that if what the students write is true, it is not libel, and where the students make the content decisions, the school district is protected from successful suit. (Sisley v. Seattle School District (2011 in the Court of Appeals of Washington (state), Division 1)

Second, when administrators exercise prior review, students lose the opportunity to develop skill crucial to democracy, including the ability to recognize sound journalism and fake news. When students choose the content of their publications to please—or at least “get past”—administrators, they are denied the opportunity to apply what they learn in class about news values, ethics and press law.

In contrast, students who control the content of their publication regularly consider their audience’s right to know and individuals’ right to privacy. They judge the strength and reliability of sources. They strive to make their reporting fair and accurate. They come to cherish their audience’s trust and they admit mistakes, issue corrections and retractions, and live with the consequences. They are prepared to be responsible citizens as intelligent consumers of media.

There is no evidence that prior review by administration improves learning in any way.

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*In states under the Tinker standard, an administrator could restrain stories that pose a clear and present danger of inciting students to commit crimes on school premises or violate lawful school regulations, or substantially disrupt the orderly operation of the school. The administrator could also restrain stories that contain obscenity or slander/libel.

 

In the states that remain under Hazelwood, the administrator would need a “legitimate pedagogical concern.”

 

Resources:

QuickHits So what does Hazelwood actually allow administrators to do?

QuickHits The Perks of Being a Wallflower: How a School District Escaped a Lawsuit by Fostering an Independent Student Press.  Yeo v. Town of Lexington (1997) in the First Circuit Court of Appeals

Quickhits More Perks of Being a Wallflower: How two other School District Escaped Lawsuits by Fostering an Independent Student Press. Douglass v. Londonderry School District (2005) and Sisley v. Seattle School District (2011)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More

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