JEA statement on student free expression
in a vibrant and flourishing democracy
The Journalism Education Association, at its board meeting in Seattle Washington April 6, unanimously passed the following statement:
To address current negativity toward news media in general and misunderstanding of its roles in a democracy, the Journalism Education Association reiterates its principles and practices that nourish a lifelong commitment for a vibrant and flourishing democracy.
We strongly believe free student expression as taught and practiced in journalism classes anchors successful scholastic media. So empowered, our programs showcase the importance of news and media literacy, civic engagement, critical thinking and decision-making as the core of lifelong involvement in a democracy.
To protect our democracy and its principles:
- JEA reaffirms its position that the practice of journalism is an important form of public service to prepare students as engaged, civic-minded citizens who are also discerning information creators and users.
- JEA will recognize, promote and support strong editorial policies with each media outlet as a designated public forum for student expression where students make all final content decisions without prior review or restraint.
- JEA will encourage all journalism teachers and advisers to strongly encourage diversity, accuracy and thoroughness in content so student media reflect and make sense to communities they serve.
- JEA will produce sample editorial policies and accompany them with model ethical guidelines and staff manual procedures that enhance and implement journalistically responsible decisions across media platforms.
- JEA will encourage journalism teachers and media advisers, even if they must teach and advise under prior review or restraint, to recognize how educationally unsound and democratically unstable these policies and rules are.
- JEA will insist student free expression not be limited by claims related to program funding or equipment use. Instead, journalism programs should showcase student civic engagement and practice democratic principles no matter what media platform is used.
- JEA will demonstrate, to communities in and out of school, through its actions, policies, programs and budgeting, its commitment to an informed, vibrant nation where free expression is expected and practiced as part of our diverse American heritage.
Additionally, we believe groups we partner with and endorse should faithfully support principles of free student expression for student media.