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Evaluating and critiquing content

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Ethical guidelines
Students should engage in a consistent and ongoing process to evaluate content of their student media. Open, constructive, robust and healthy newsroom dialogue plays a vital role in a publication’s ongoing development. Evaluating and critiquing content helps students to reflect on the process and outcome and allows thesprclogom to identify areas for improvement. Such reflection is also critical to the overall learning process and mastery of journalistic skills.

Staff manual process
Students should build an evaluation process into the publication cycle. The process should reflect regular input from all segments of the publication’s audience, continually taking into account who is underserved. Students should consider coverage in terms of who was affected by it, outcomes and lessons learned. This process should also include a brainstorming session that considers how to apply these lessons in the future.

Suggestions
Student editors should lead the evaluation process, seeking feedback from all media staff members. Questions to consider during this process could include:

  • How are sources depicted? Are they quoted accurately and fairly? Are they depicted without bias? Do they authentically represent the audience?
  • Does coverage include anything that wasn’t really there?
  • Does coverage deceive the audience in any way?
  • Does coverage reflect any stereotypes? Does it make assumptions?
  • Does coverage reflect transparency about reporting methods and motives?
  • What is missing from the coverage? Is any follow-up necessary? If so, what will that look like?
  • Does coverage reflect humility and honesty about the limits of knowledge?

Resources
Lesson: News Literacy and the Publication Staff, Journalism Education Association
Audio: Evaluating And Critiquing Content, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Commission, Press Rights Minute

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