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CJE test-takers need not fear
law & ethics questions

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“But the law and ethics questions worry me,” said a slightly frazzled journalism teacher as she slid into the last row of seats for one of the Denver convention’s Getting Certified sessions. She was going to take the test later that day in hopes of becoming a Certified Journalism Educator, and she knew she HAD to pass that part of the test.

JEA members earning a CJE under Option B – for those with three years journalism teaching or advising experience but few if any media courses –, the test is a requirement. And some to think that one section is scary, but it doesn’t have to be.

Although the test is undergoing a facelift and some formatting and organizational improvements during the summer, one thing will still be true: You must score 75 percent on the law and ethics questions. Failure to do so means you can retake JUST that part within the next year, but then you need to pass it.

The Master Journalism Educator test has a similar requirement. Of the five questions on each test — legal and ethical issues; content, writing and editing; graphics, design and production; staff and administrative relationships; and business and advertising — applicants may choose four, but one must be the legal question.

So why all the emphasis on those items? Both the Certification and Scholastic Press Rights Committees agree – without a solid foundation in those areas, you can have the most well-written stories, appealing designs, innovation multimedia, but if a reporter plagiarizes or a photographer just downloads and publishes someone else’s copyrighted image, you’re going to have problems.

Even more important, if students know their rights and responsibilities and practice ethical journalism, they are going to be able to combat unwarranted prior review and censorship much better.

This is also one of the knowledge areas in JEA’s Standards for journalism Educators: “A solid foundation in press law and ethics as it applies to scholastic media, including First Amendment-related rights and responsibilities.”

And JEA’s curriculum initiative has a very valuable Law and Ethics module.

So the concerned adviser in the convention session doesn’t really need to worry about studying for the test. This is content that will help she and her staff whether even if she doesn’t have those nice initials after her name (though we definitely encourage her to do so).

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