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Fighting scholastic media censorship must start locally

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They just keep on coming.

Stevenson High. Timberland High. Stow-Munroe Falls High. Boonville High and others too numerous to list.

And those are just some we know about.

But there are countless others — the smaller, lesser known stories you hear about at workshops like the recent JEA/NSAP convention in DC.

• Like the Virginia  student journalist who needed suggestions on how to work with a principal about prior review because the principal offered no justification for censoring topics administrators considered negative to the school.

• Like the Michigan school who wanted guidelines on how to report controversial issues so they could remain review-free.

• Like the student who would not say what state she was from, just that she was from the Bible Belt. She sought help on how to report on her principal being “under persecution” because of discussion of Christian issues

• Like the South Carolina student journalist trying to understand why her conservative community was upset about the reporting on a pregnant teen.

Each of these instances deserves our attention as much as the larger, more publicized instances.

To help journalism teachers and advisers, we need to know when to offer our help and why. It is much harder to assist these students, advisers and parents if we don’t know the issues and the ways we can help.

If your student media face censorship or prior review, please let us know so we can act to support in ways you feel best for your situation.

Here are some ways:

• Report the issue to the Student Press Law Center .

• Complete a censorship report by going to The Center for Scholastic Journalism to report censorship or prior review, and fill out the forms.

• If the adviser is a member of JEA, activate the organization’s Adviser Assistance Program by contacting your state JEA representative, your regional director or JEA headquarters. You can get that information from the JEA Web site.

• Leave a comment on this blog. A member of JEA’s press rights commission or members of the other commissions (certification, curriculum, multi-cultural or middle school) will get back to you.

Help us know who needs assistance and attention from the most well-known to the smallest issue.

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