By Tom Gayda
I am a First Amendment fighter. I have long stood by supporting people’s rights to say and do what they want. But then came social media.
There is a fine line between what is right and what is wrong sometimes. Sadly, with the never-ending onslaught of posts, likes and tweets, the notion of acting responsibly has at times taken a backseat.
It isn’t my intent to curtail one’s First Amendment rights. However, I think we must all do a better job showing future adults that not everything in life is post-worthy and what one posts can follow a person for life.
There are responsibilities that come with one’s rights. And while one can basically say anything he or she wants on social media, that isn’t always the smartest thing to do. I warn my own students to think about the image they are projecting by their social media use. Dropping “f-bombs” like nothing might make one hip with their social circle, however others who see such warfare might think twice about interacting with the offender.
I also ask my students to tell me how it’s going to be when their kids are old enough to take advantage of the latest Internet craze and can see everything their mom or dad posted when they were teenagers. Ouch! (Never mind the dancing!) Life went on for millions of years without people sharing with the world their every innermost secret. Somehow we can survive with fewer posts.
Schools patrolling their students Internet activities hardly seems like a good use of time, however it is important kids know there can be consequences to what they post, be it legally or not. Many folks tend to get extra courage behind the safety of their smartphone. We can support free speech and teach how to use it responsibly.
Times are changing and so do the ways we communicate. Think first, and remember, everything you say today will be out there forever.
A committee with representatives from the Journalism Education Association, National Scholastic Press Association and Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society is pleased to announce the six winners of the 2014 First Amendment Press Freedom Award.
The award recognizes high schools that actively support, teach and protect First Amendment rights and responsibilities of students and teachers, with an emphasis on student-run media where students make all final decisions of content.
As in previous years, schools competed for the title by first answering questionnaires submitted by an adviser and at least one editor; those who advanced to the next level were asked to provide responses from the principal and all publications advisers and student editors, indicating their support of the five freedoms. In addition, semifinalists submitted samples of their printed policies.
2014 First Amendment Press Freedom Award winners are as follows:
Convent of the Sacred Heart High School, San Francisco, Calif.
Francis Howell North High School, St. Charles, Mo.
Kirkwood High School. Kirkwood, Mo.
Mountlake Terrace High School, Mountlake Terrace, Wash.
North Central High School, Indianapolis, Ind.
Townsend Harris High School, Flushing, N.Y.
These schools will be honored April 10 at the opening ceremony of the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in San Diego.
Two of the schools are first-time recipients: North Central High School and Convent of the Sacred Heart, which is not only a first-time awardee, but the second private school to ever be recognized.
“We are proud of each of these schools for supporting their student media as they practice critical life skills like decision making, critical thinking and civic engagement while informing their audiences,” JEA Scholastic Press Rights Commission chairman said.
This is the 14th year for the recognition. The award, which began with an emphasis on student publications, was originally titled Let Freedom Ring, and later expanded to include the other freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.
First round applications are due annually by Dec. 1. Downloadable applications for 2015 will be available on the JEA website in the fall.
“But what do you do if what they want to publish may cause a problem?” Rachel asked, a little furrow of a frown between her eyes.
She and the other 16 education majors in Kent State’s Teaching High School Journalism course had heard all about the value of a free press from Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism Mark Goodman. He had met with them the week before when I had to miss class. Now I was back, explaining the value of the Tinker standard and re-emphasizing their future students’ First Amendment rights.
Rachel and most of the others felt our passion and wanted to believe, but…they envisioned a lot of “what ifs” for new teachers.
As scholastic media and their advisers move more to online media and use more social media as a reporting tool, verification remains a critical issue.
Enter the Verification Handbook, a product of Poynter’s Craig Silverman and American Copy Editors Society (ACES) Merrill Perlman.
Subtitled “A definitive guide to verifying digital content for emergency coverage” it comes across as a thorough, easy to use and authoritative tool for our students to use as they grow into digital and social media reporting.