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Now’s the time to consider
applying for FAPFA recognition

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by John Bowen, MJE
As we start a new school year, JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee hopes first and foremost on your list of things to do is to reaffirm your student media’s support for and adherence to the First Amendment and free expression.

Your students can also continue to recognize the  importance of First Amendment practices and policies – and be recognized for it – by applying for this year’s FAPFA award.

This First Amendment Press Freedom Award recognizes high schools that actively support, teach and protect First Amendment rights and responsibilities of students and teachers. The recognition focuses on student-run media where students make all final decisions of content without prior review.

Roughly, here’s a sample of what the judging committee looks for in determining FAPFA recipients:

  • No prior review or restraint by school faculty for all student media.
  • Student staffers make all final decisions of content for all student media.
  • Establish policies at all student media and school system levels or both as public forums for student expression.
  • Remove Internet filters for student journalism use
  • Students, advisers and administrators agree on First Amendment practices, philosophy and application across platforms.

As in previous years, schools seek FAPFA recognition by first answering questionnaires submitted by an adviser and at least one editor. Those who advance to the next level will be asked to provide separate responses from the principal and all media advisers and student editors, indicating their support of the First Amendment. In addition, semifinalists submit samples of their school and media online or printed policies that show student media applying their freedoms.

Schools recognized as meeting FAPFA criteria will be honored at the opening ceremony of the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco.

First round applications are due annually before Dec. 15. Downloadable applications for 2018 are available at this link. Even if your school received the recognition previously, you must re-apply yearly.

This is the 18th year for the award.

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