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Expressing student freedoms – and responsibility – through substantive reporting

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In a survey taken at the San Antonio JEA and NSPA convention last  November, students and advisers reported censorship was alive and well in America’s schools. Forty-two percent of students and 41 percent of advisers responding said school officials had told them not to publish or air something. Fifty-four percent of students indicated a school official reviewed student media content before publication or airing.hazelwoodcolor

Both groups also incited self-censorship was an issue, prompting SPLC director Frank LoMonte to lay some of the blame for situations like these on the 1988 Hazelwood decision.

“Schools will continue to be disempowering places where no meaningful discussion of civic issues takes place so long as Hazelwood censorship is practiced,” he said.

Fortunately, some schools can and do tackle important issues and are not limited by misguided administrators. Others can learn from their efforts.

One example where students tackled substantive issues is the Verde at Palo Alto High School, in  California, where they reported on a “rape culture” at their school. Another is the Triangle of Columbus North High School in Columbus, Indiana, which published on sexual assault. Both stories reinforce the importance of issues teens face as seen in events in Steubenville, Ohio, and Saratoga, California.

Below are links to these students’ reporting,  and related stories. These stories are models of reporting student media is capable of when communities, school administrators and advisers support critical thinking and student decision making.

In the next several weeks, we will also report other efforts not only to limit Hazelwood’s impact but also to recognize schools around the country through our Make a Difference through substantive reporting project.

The SPLC developed its Cure Hazelwood website to help combat the effects of that 1988 Supreme Court decision, and JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Association prepared its Seeking a Cure for the Hazelwood Blues and Teacher’s Kit for Curing Hazelwood materials to educate all parties about the lack of education value in prior review and restrict by school officials. A myriad of essential curriculum materials and information about fighting Hazelwood exists on the Scholastic Press Rights Commission website.

For more information about the Verde and Triangle stories, see below:

* Palo Alto high students talk about ‘rape culture’
http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201304151000

* Palo Alto high-school journalists expose ‘rape culture’
http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/crime-law/rape-culture/nXJct/

• High school students teach us how to talk about rape
http://www.alternet.org/high-school-students-teach-us-how-talk-about-rape

• High school students school us about rape culture
http://www.salon.com/2013/04/11/high_school_students_school_us_about_rape_culture/

• Steubenville Ohio articles over the last 30 days
http://interceder.net/latest_news/Steubenville-Ohio

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