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A graphic like the Boston Globe used  with a collection of newspaper editorials from across the country is simple, clean and very attention-grabbing.

by Candace Bowen, MJE
It’s not too late.

Even if you weren’t back in school by mid-August or hadn’t started publishing yet, it’s not too late to follow the Boston Globe’s campaign to get publications everywhere to write editorials arguing against President Trump’s frequent assertion that journalists are the “enemy of the people.”

“We propose to publish an editorial on Aug. 16 on the dangers of the administration’s assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date,” The Globe announced. And more than 300 professional news outlets and organizations followed suit.

As the Student Press Law Center reported, these weren’t the only ones who took up the battle cry and argued the need for a free and independent press: Some scholastic media published opinion pieces as well. In fact, while some joined in on that day, others had long since written similar pieces.

The six high school publications the SPLC highlighted included three that had already addressed the issue and three that published Aug. 15 or 16. But Diana Mitsu Klos, Director of Engagement for the SPLC, seeks others who have just begun their year and still plan to write on this issue.

What approach have others taken? What would your student editorial board want to consider as you think about doing the same?

For example, The Nexus, a print publication at Westview High School in San Diego, was way ahead of everyone. In a tongue-in-cheek editorial, the staff editorial described how it has been an “army of 28 enemies of the American people” as they begin a production cycle, brainstorm for ideas and gather “intel.” They recounted some of their “diabolical” articles that have “shed light on topics that directly affect their audience, giving students, parents and staff a voice. Their examples are solid and prove their point, and, while sarcasm doesn’t always work, it does here because of the specifics of what they have done well and used to make a difference. Clearly, they are not enemies of their people.

Online editor Meghan Turley of Tigard High School’s The Pawin Portland posted her piece Aug. 15, including screen shots of @realDonaldTrump tweets referring to “fake news” and indicating the news outlets he said are the “enemy of the American People” — @nytimes, @NBCNews, @CNN, etc. Turley pointed out how frustrating it is for student journalists to watch “journalists and publications I admire be torn down from a point of leadership I should be trusting.”

She also shared an anecdote from a friend whose opinion piece was “ready to be published by a local paper” until a district administrator told the paper it had false information in it. “Knowing the work, research and effort that goes into most stories, it’s confusing to me how anyone could brush it off as ‘fake journalism,’” Turley wrote.

The staff of the Southerner online at Henry W. Grady High School, Atlanta, also posted its comments Aug. 15. Beside a graphic of The First Amendment, the staff argued for the need for all voices to be heard and added: “Even at Grady High School, there is a disconnect between the student body and the writers of the school newspaper. The newspaper is not seen by all students as a legitimate source of news, and President Trump has become a catalyst for a severe distrust of the press that could potentially spread to the high school level. The power of student-generated media must not be overlooked, especially since it represents a voice that otherwise may not be heard.”

If you’ve decided to express your views on this topic as a staff, of course you need an angle, a tone, anecdotes or experts for support, and, if at all possible, some visuals. Remember, just downloading a photo of the president from a news site is undoubtedly a copyright violation. The Paw’s screen shots of tweets were used to describe and critique the content, so those were fair use. The Southernercredited the Newseum for its graphic of the First Amendment, though it’s not a photo nor particularly unique, so I’m not quite sure why that was necessary.

Whatever you do, don’t neglect this chance to tell YOUR readers why you think journalists are a vital part of our democracy and those who try to shut them down or turn others against them are the real enemies.

You could also have a staff artist/designer come up with a graphic like the one the Boston Globeused to illustrate its editorial. It’s simple, clean and has lots of impact.

But whatever you do, don’t neglect this chance to tell YOUR readers why you think journalists are a vital part of our democracy and those who try to shut them down or turn others against them are the real enemies.

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The Boston Globe’sarticle might require you to be a subscriber.
https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2018/08/15/editorial/Kt0NFFonrxqBI6NqqennvL/story.html

The Boston Globe’s compilation of newspapers by state that ran an editorial.
http://apps.bostonglobe.com/opinion/graphics/2018/08/freepress/

Graphic used under fair use guidelines.

 

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