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Seeking journalistic truth

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Helping student journalists to seek the truth

by Kristin Taylor

What does it mean to be truthful? Is truthfulness accurate numbers and statistics? Multiple points of view? Context to help the reader understand the time and place and other circumstances? All of the above?

Journalistic truth “means much more than mere accuracy,” according the seminal text “The Elements of Journalism” by Kovach and Rosenstiel. “It is a sorting-out process that takes place between the initial story and the interaction among the public, newsmakers and journalists.”

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Handling sponsored content

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Student media, when faced with publishing sponsored content, should act carefully and with the best interests of the audience/consumer first.

Although it is quite possible scholastic media will never face making a decision to run content known as sponsored or native ads, students and advisers should prepare guidelines just in case.

Sponsored content and native advertising, two media terms for paid materials, are becoming a fact of life for media and consumers. That said, student media, when faced with publishing them, should act carefully and with the best interests of the audience/consumer first.

Scholastic media owe it to their audiences to expect clearly sourced and non-slanted information, particularly with so much concern with fake news.

 

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Becoming a public forum for student expression

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

The importance of public forums in student media

Guideline

All student media publications should strive to be a “public forum for student expression” in order to be granted more protection under current free press laws.

Question: 

What is a “public forum for student expression?” Why is it important for student media outlets to be designated as such?

Key points/action:

  • A “public forum” implies that the publication is set up as an open forum for expression. This ultimately means any person with an opinion can be published/broadcasted in the media outlet (through letters to the editor, call ins, etc.). This “openness” to the public is important because the publication is then elevated from a closed student publication to a place where community discussion and debate can occur,
  • and those democratic ideals hold more legal protection.
  • A “public forum for student expression” is a forum where student editors have been given the right to make final content decisions.
  • Public forum = a forum where anyone has a right to add to the discussion

Stance: 

All student media outlets should declare themselves “open forums for student expression” in their editorial policy and should open expression rights to the public (by allowing letters to the editor, etc.). Students should also truly make all final content decisions, thus transferring the legal responsibility of the publication, in theory, to the students.

Reasoning/suggestions:

What does this mean for student journalists? 1.) they should publish any letter to the editor they receive, as long as it does not classify as unprotected speech and follows established publication guidelines, in order to establish the publication as truly an “open forum”; and 2.) somewhere within their editorial pages, a condensed editorial policy should be published with each issue establishing the publication as a “public forum for student expression where students make all decisions of content.”

Directions for how readers can submit letters to the editor should also be published, as well as clarifying statement that student editors make all final content decisions.

Bottom line: Forum status matters, especially for schools not protected by state free press laws (like New Voices). It may be the only legal protection students have in a court of law.

Resources: 

Related: Tinker Standard, Tinker v. Hazelwood, Unprotected Speech

 

 

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Public or independent schools:
Whose expression is protected is complex

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

School type, court decisions state laws and how student media are established  can all have a role

by Kristin Taylor
If public school student journalists face censorship, they can turn to the First Amendment. Because public schools are funded by the government, school officials are government agents. Private (also known as “independent”) schools are not funded by the government, so those school officials are not government agents — the First Amendment does not apply.

This might make one assume that public school students have full speech protection and private school students do not, but it’s not that simple.

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The importance of linking to reporting

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Links in online reporting provides context, credibility and transparency for coverage

by Kristin Taylor
You can’t click on a print newspaper, so why should we include links in digital stories?

The Nieman Foundation provides four main purposes for adding links:

  1. Links are good for storytelling.
  2. Links keep the audience informed.
  3. Links are a currency of collaboration.
  4. Links enable transparency.
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Promote online coverage with facts, without hype

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

When promoting, leave the rah-rah to the cheerleaderd. Supply the facts.

Guideline: Staffs should have clear guidelines for the tone of information published in social media. Although tweets are often used to promote people or events, that’s not the job of news media — student-run or otherwise. Remember to be a journalist all the time and provide facts, not opinion and hype.

Social media post/question:Social media doesn’t have to turn your publication into a cheerleader. Stick to news and information.

Stance: Whether you’re producing a print publication, a news website, a broadcast or a tweet, you’re in the news business and the story isn’t about you. Leave the rah-rah to the cheerleaders and supply the facts.

Reasoning/suggestions: Sometimes it’s a fine line, but think of it this way: You can notify your audience about an upcoming game, even tell them its significance and what to expect, but when you include something like, “So get out there and support our Fighting Eagles!” then you have gone over the line from news to promotion.

And that’s not a good thing.

Resources:

Developing standards for social media use in your student media JEA SPRC

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