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New Quick Tips listing can help provide
solutions, guides to media issues

Working on a sensitive story? Looking to add new ethical  guidelines to help students deal with new technology? Want to finalize the process to use if students wish to run political ads or endorsements?

Quick Tips can help with ethical guidelines supported by reasoning and staff manual procedures to reach outcomes you desire.

If you or your students have suggestions to add to our list, please contact SPRC Director Lori Keekley.

This is our latest Quick Tips list. We hope you find its points useful.

Each newly posted QT  has a short annotation and a link to the materials. Each addition also has links for more depth and related content.

To see a list of already posted Quick Tips, please go here.

Quick Tips

We have the responsibility to ensure administrators see journalism’s values
Educating administrators about the value of journalism at the high school level is a crucial step towards empowering student journalists and building a future with more engaged democratic citizens.

Seeking journalistic truth 

Journalistic truth “means much more than mere accuracy,” according the seminal text “The Elements of Journalism” by Kovach and Rosenstiel. “It is a sorting-out process that takes place between the initial story and the interaction among the public, newsmakers and journalists.”

Solutions Journalism

Solutions Journalism doesn’t offer its solution to issues. It does report on what others haveworked and what has not.

Handling sponsored content

Student media, when faced with publishing sponsored content, should act carefully and with the best interests of the audience/consumer first.

The importance of linking to reporting

Links in online reporting provides context, credibility and transparency for coverage.

Promote online coverage with facts, without hype

Staffs should have clear guidelines for the tone of information published in social media. Although tweets are often used to promote people or events, that’s not the job of news media — student-run or otherwise. Remember to be a journalist all the time and provide facts, not opinion and hype.

Public or independent schools:Whose expression is protected is complex

If public school student journalists face censorship, they can turn to the First Amendment. Because public schools are funded by the government, school officials are government agents. Private (also known as “independent”) schools are not funded by the government, so those school officials are not government agents — the First Amendment does not apply.

Becoming a public forum for student expression

All student media publications should strive to be a “public forum for student expression” in order to be granted more protection under current free press laws.

Fighting self-censorship

Advisers and students should oppose attempts at both internal and external censorship.

Unnamed sources should be used sparingly

Journalism is based on truth and accuracy. Using unnamed sources risks both of those standards. For that reason, students should seek sources willing to speak on the record.

Transparency

In order to maintain credibility, student reporters and editors should strive to be transparent in all aspects of their reporting. This includes revealing within the text of a story how interviews were obtained (if anything other than an in-person interview is used), giving proper attribution to direct quotes, as well as using indirect quotes to give attribution to ideas and details that come from sources.

Standards for accepting non-staff content

Example: Student media will not accept advertising content that includes profanity, obscenity or nudity (with the exception of baby pictures for the personal ads). The editors reserve the right to edit all copy for style or to refuse an ad on the basis of its content.

Study others’ First Amendment climate to better your own

Free expression isn’t always a friendly venture. Oftentimes, the values of free expression can be tested by speech that may make another uncomfortable.

By examining their school’s current free expression climate, students can evaluate what type of community education is needed and act accordingly.

Importance of news literacy

Informed citizens are a crucial part of a democracy. As both producers and consumers of news, student journalists must understand the principles of news literacy.

Student journalism is not public relations

magine the American press was only allowed to report on good news. No mention of problems in society, no opportunity to speak out against injustice or corruption — just a relentless stream of positivity with the government overseeing every piece of content. Chilling, right?

Credibility strengthened with use of sources in opinion pieces

Writers should show they have done research and interviews in opinion pieces just as they do in objective reporting.

Doing this provides credibility and authority to their views. It also shows audiences the students are informed on the issue.

FOIA requests

Data your school district keeps for its own information or to report out to the state or federal government is an important resource for journalists.

Diversity is a journalistic must

Student media staffs should reflect the racial, economic, social issue and gender diversity of the schools they represent.

We have the responsibility to ensure administrators see journalism’s value

School administrators can feel tremendous pressure to protect their schools’ reputations, so it’s understandable that they may be wary of supporting a scholastic press where students have final say over all content.

Educating administrators about the value of journalism at the high school level is a crucial step towards empowering student journalists and building a future with more engaged democratic citizens.

Mistakes happen. What matters is how
student journalists handle those mistakes

Students should know when to make corrections and when (if ever) to remove online stories entirely. Minor proofreading errors that don’t impact the meaning of the content don’t require corrections. Once students are aware of a mistake that should be corrected and have fact-checked to be sure it is indeed erroneous, they need to act quickly to help restore their credibility. 

Censorship leads to fake news

JEA strongly rejects both prior review and restraint as tools in the education process and agrees with other national journalism education groups that no valid educational justification exists for prior review of scholastic media.

Prior review and prior restraint of student media content by school officials are weapons in the arsenal of censorship. Not only do they limit student learning and application, but they also restrict student critical thinking and analysis.

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