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Brett Kavanaugh’s 1983 yearbook provides teachable moments

Posted by on Sep 27, 2018 in Blog, Scholastic Journalism, Yearbook | 1 comment

Yearbooks are forever.

We wear this statement on matching T-shirts, mail it home on marketing postcards and proudly display it on homemade posters created by dedicated publications staffs nationwide.

But less than one week before National Yearbook Week 2018, the phrase takes on new significance during the hearings surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Earlier this week, Kavanaugh’s 1983 Georgetown Prep yearbook page made the news for its references to drinking and partying along with coded mentions of a female classmate that appear to be demeaning inside jokes.

Seeing a yearbook page in the news is always a teachable moment, of course. Journalism teachers can show students — and other stakeholders — the value of yearbooks as historical record, as memory keepers and, depending on one’s perspective, possibly as a sort of character reference. The way people hold on to yearbooks, as Heather Schwedel describes in this Slate article, draws attention to a student publication 35 years later as a form of historical evidence.

What complicates the larger discourse is the social media noise, which quickly shifted to placing blame on the yearbook adviser and others responsible for producing the publication. A tweet by Soledad O’Brien questioned the adviser, and the comments that followed illustrate the wide range of uninformed public opinions about what should and shouldn’t find its way into a yearbook — and who plays a hand in that decision.

What can yearbook staff members learn from the 1983 Cupola?

Recent H.L. Hall National Yearbook Adviser of the Year winners share their perspectives to help add context and offer guidance for students and teachers discussing this in their journalism classes.

 

What is the role of the adviser?

“Advisers are responsible for helping guide staff members in understanding their responsibilities and through challenges they face. They are not there to censor or to dictate content. They are there to provide support, advice and direction. Advisers are not there to serve as editors of student publications. They are there to help students establish the standards and guide them.”

— Brenda Field, MJE; Glenbrook South High School (Glenbrook, Ill.)

“First and foremost, the role of the yearbook adviser is to teach responsible journalism. If we’re doing our jobs, then students will be equipped to make responsible decisions regarding content. And this is what happens every single day in yearbook journalism classrooms across the country. Yes, I read every word that went into the books I advised, as that was the expectation in my school and community. But it was the editors and staff who ultimately determined content.”

— Cindy Todd; retired from Westlake High School (Austin, Texas)

 

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Apply now for national First Amendment award

Posted by on Nov 9, 2014 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Yearbook | 0 comments

by John Bowen
Applications are now available for this year’s First Amendment Press Freedom Award (FAPFA).

In its 15th year, the recognition is designed to identify and recognize high schools that actively support and protect First Amendment rights of their students and teachers. The honor focuses on press freedoms.
The application can be completed by using a SurveyGizmo form. Deadline for submission is Dec. 15, 2014.
Schools will be recognized at the 2015 Spring National JEA/NSPA High School Journalism Convention in Denver.
To be recognized by JEA, NSPA and Quill and Scroll, schools must successfully complete two rounds of questions about the degree of First Amendment Freedoms student journalists have and how the school recognizes and supports the First Amendment. Entries will be evaluated by members of these organizations.
As in previous years, high schools will compete for the title by first answering questionnaires directed to an adviser and at least one editor; those who advance to the next level will be asked to provide responses from the principal and  advisers and student editors/news directors of all student media.
In Round 2, semifinalists will submit samples of the publications and their printed editorial policies.
We’d love to see a record number of applications, and winners, especially given the great turnout at the Washington, DC, convention just now ending.
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What ‘s banned in your neighborhood?
Banned Websites Awareness Week brings
chance to examine extent of Internet filtering

Posted by on Sep 24, 2014 in Blog, Broadcast, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Visual Reporting, Yearbook | 0 comments

sprclogoAccording to a new report from the American Library Association, Internet-filtering software blocks more content than required and deprives students of access to information and collaborative tools

Titled Fencing Out Knowledge: Impacts of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) 10 Years Later, the report also argues those children most affected are the poor, who might not otherwise have unfiltered Internet Access if they cannot access it at school.

JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee would like to see how journalism programs currently fare in today’s filtered high schools.

We urge you to complete the linked  survey to see what your schools filters block, either for your students or for other classes in your school.BWAD-2014_webbadge

Students surfing the Web themselves or interviewing others who do can provide students with a worthwhile experience in news literacy as they become informed about information availability and how that affects society’s knowledge and ability to act on that knowledge.

We hope this survey will gather enough representative information to allow JEA and others to design strategies to help journalism programs work in a less filtered environment.

This lesson plan by Lori Keekley can add structure to your searching.

Survey instructions:

  1. Click here to go to the survey.
  2. Each student or adviser should complete a separate form.
  3. Each form allows the student or adviser to identify multiple blocked sites
  4. Submit the results of your surveys from Sept. 24 to Oct. 3
  5. Submit all forms by Oct. 3
  6. If you gathered any of your information using audio or video or have any visual reporting, please feel free to share that with us here
  7. Use links on the accompanying graphic to access Internet filtering
  8. JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee will post information about the results in the near future
  9. Publish results of your own surveys to show the local impact of filtering and share with us
  10. If you have questions or run into problems, contact us here
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Internet filters: What do they really block?

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Blog, Broadcast, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Visual Reporting, Yearbook | 0 comments


by John Bowen
sprclogo“For speech class, senior Dave Jennings needed to find information about Nirvana and Kurt Cobain,” Maggie Beckwith, senior reporter for the Lakewood Times, began her story on the effects of Internet filtering.

“I was trying to go to the Rolling Stone magazine web site to get lyrics” Jennings said. “I couldn’t get to anything.”

Later in the story, Beckwith quoted Judith Krug, director of the Office of Intellectual Freedom, a division of the American Library Association. “Administrators can say they are ‘protecting the children’ but no they not. Filters limit choices young people have in terms of accessing school work and pursuing their own intellectual curiosity.”

That was in 2002.

Beckwith went on to study journalism at Syracuse University and interned at the Student Press Law Center.

Internet filters continued blocking legitimate sites.

Since then, groups have challenged the effectiveness of Internet filters as educationally unsound and operations for prior review and censors that set up barriers and taboos instead of educating you, according to a fact sheet on The Free Expression Policy Project website.

To raise awareness of overly restrictive blocking in schools and school libraries of legitimate, educational websites aBWAD-2014_webbadgend academically useful social networking tools, The American Association of School Librarians has designated Wednesday, Sept. 24 as Banned Websites Awareness Day

AASL asked school librarians and other educators to promote an awareness of how overly restrictive filtering affects student learning as part of Banned Books Week.

As part of that recognition, JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights committee will conduct a national survey of the impact of Internet filters beginning that day and last a week. We invite you and your students to take part in the survey by going to jeasprc.org and accessing the survey information there.

The commission asks students and advisers to test their Internet filters to see if their filtering goes beyond what filters are charged with blocking by the Children’s Internet Protection Act as numerous studies and groups have argued.

When information has been gathered, SPRC will report on the survey’s results and share that data.

Please check the committee’s website, its Facebook page or JEA’s Facebook page Sept. 24 for access to the survey.

 

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Internet filters: More than annoying

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Blog, Broadcast, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Visual Reporting, Yearbook | 0 comments


by John Bowen
sprclogoTo raise awareness of overly restrictive blocking in schools and school libraries of legitimate, educational websites and academically useful social networking tools, The American Association of School Librarians has designated Wednesday, Sept. 24 as Banned Websites Awareness Day.

AASL asked school librarians and other educators to promote an awareness of how overly restrictive filtering affects student learning as part of Banned Books Week.

As part of that recognition, JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights committee will conduct a national survey of the impact of Internet filters beginning that day and last a week. We invite you and your students to take part in the survey by going to jeasprc.org and accessing the survey information there.

The commission asks students and advisers to test their Internet filters to see if their filtering goes beyond what filters are charged with blocking by the Children’s Internet Protection Act as numerous studies and groups have argued. BWAD-2014_webbadge

When information has been gathered, SPRC will report on the survey’s results and share that data.

Please check the committee’s website, its Facebook page or JEA’s Facebook page Sept. 24 for access to the survey.

 

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Evaluating journalistic content: an ethics lesson

Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Blog, Broadcast, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Visual Reporting, Yearbook | 0 comments

Evaluating journalistic content: creating your own coverage process

by John Bowen
Description
Students will examine the following: What is the most complete way to tell a story? What are the ingredients of the perfect, most comprehensive story? Can the approach work for all story types?

Students will work on the following questions:
• What in students’ minds is the “perfect story?”
• How would students achieve the “perfect story?”
• Can students apply an approach like Vox to their coverage?
• What are the strengths and weaknesses of Vox-like reporting?
• What would a scholastic approach look like?

Objectives
• Students will investigate the question of what makes good content
• Students will discuss how to improve weak content using examples and processes from the lesson
• Students will create their own media approaches to more thorough coverage from lesson discussions

Common Core State Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

Length
150 minutes (three 50-minute classes)

Materials / resources
Vox.com
All you need to know..is that Ezra Klein’s Vox is nothing special
Vox.com has no idea how to cover culture
Vox.com and News Flash Cards: What do you think?
Ezra Klein on Vox’s launch, media condescension and competing with Wikipedia
Vox.com aims to bring context to news with ‘card stacks’
Vox, the forefront of technology and journalism? 

Lesson step-by-step

Day 1
1. Student discovery — 20 minutes
Have students go toVox.com and who we are to examine several Vox stories and read about the Vox concept. They should complete the handout on the following.
• What does Vox say about the purpose of its approach? Why does it work? How does it work?
• Do students think it works? Why? Why not?
• Are the Vox stories complete? Cohesive? Reliable? Verifiable? Accurate? Who or what are the sources, and what does that lead you to ask about the information? How well do they use multiplatform materials?
• If you were to adapt a Vox-like approach, what would you chose to to use, not to use?

2. Readings — 30 minutes

Assign each group to read one of the following articles about Vox and be ready to discuss in class.
• All you need to know..is that Ezra Klein’s Vox is nothing special
• Vox.com has no idea how to cover culture
 Vox.com and News Flash Cards: What do you think?
• Ezra Klein on Vox’s launch, media condescension and competing with Wikipedia
• Vox.com aims to bring context to news with ‘card stacks’
• Vox, the forefront of technology and journalism?

Day 2

1. Link — 5 minutes
Ask students to describe what they learned about the concept of Vox.com during the previous class.

2. Reading review — 15 minutes
Assign students to form six groups. Have each group reread and concentrate on one of the articles.  Ask students to think about points made and evaluate them in terms of creating their own version of Vox using the following questions:
—What do they like about Vox and would include
—What do they dislike and would not include
—What would they change and why?
—Could they make something like Vox work on the scholastic level, and how?

3. Reports — 15 minutes
Each group should report on what it discussed.

4. Practical application — 15 minutes
Once the articles and Vox have been thoroughly discussed, break the students into team of five and have them:
—Decide how they would focus their approach to cover a localized issue or event
—Choose the topic, its sources and questions to build coverage around (core story)
—Begin to research and gather/suggest the “card stacks” to make their coverage complete
—Evaluate their materials as they go, and prepare to explain their choices to each team in
–Students will decide which, if any, of their story approaches would work and implement decisions on each.
• Would their approach provide “perfect story” coverage? Why/why not?
• What could be changed to make stories more effective?
• Do they think audiences would be more completely informed using this approach? Why or why not?
• What changes, if any, would they have to make in their operations to be effective?
• Is this approach valuable enough to make those changes?

• Is this approach valuable enough to make those changes? 

Day 3

1. Group preparation — 10 minutes
Students should review the information from the practical application from the previous class.

2. Presentation — 40 minutes
Each team shares its story concepts, sources and presentation.

Teams will discuss the ethical issues raised in the coverage and well as the news principles and judgment of story and card selection.

 

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