If you are a JEA member or students of a JEA member who need assistance concerning censorship issues, use the panic button above to generate an online form to explain your situation. This will go to a Student Press Rights Commission member who will assist you quickly and notify others in your state so they can offer assistance. This outreach capability is a direct result of JEA’s Adviser Assistance Program and is designed to combat censorship issues advisers and students might face.
Resources for Panic Button
Protocol for Free and Responsible Student News Media
Quick ways to avoid the big C (censorship):
• Be accurate in your reporting is a key requisite for good reporting. The slightest error or omission or grammar mistake can persuade a reader the reporting is flawed. It can also give those who want to control reporting an opportunity to do so by citing obvious flaws. Your credibility is built on how accurate you can be. Prior review and censorship are only designed to limit or destroy accuracy.
• Be thorough and complete in your reporting as sometimes it is not enough to just present information but also to put that information in perspective. What seems like a single issue of point today might have a long history that completes the information audiences need to make informed decisions. Reporting can be slanted by omission as much as by viewpoint, so be thorough in finding all relevant information.
• Use multiple and credible sources to give all stakeholders a voice. Find the best and most credible resources – live and nonlive – to help tell and show all angles and all affected. Think ahead to what questions audiences might have and try to answer them all. All relevant viewpoints should have a voice. The more credible and reliable sources used, the more comprehensive and effective the reporting.
• Follow professional standards that include legal and ethical approaches that are defendable. Just because students can report a story does not mean they should; just because administrators can call for prior review and restraint (censorship) does not mean they should. Work to find common definitions of journalism, journalistic responsibility and accountability and then practice them.
• Think through the implications of what your students are reporting, how they are reporting it and why they are reporting it. It is the adviser’s job to help students think along these lines. Think of the possible danger points but instead of creating red lights empower green lights that support successful publication of information. Anticipate what challenges or questions various audiences might raise and know how to respond.
• Know your audience: Although no topic is automatically taboo, how the topic is covered should result from a knowledge of the audience, including their ages and cultural sensitivities. A written description of the audience will help the student staff decide how to report the subject and help prioritize elements of coverage, headlines, web teasers, language use and graphic presentation of information. For instance, how young is the youngest member of the audience? Do not assume the audience shares staffers sense of humor, has consumed the same media staffers consume nor are as sophisticated.
Additional essential resources for legal and ethical information and guidance:
• Student Press Law Center is the premier site for legal and ethical advice, detailed information and the ability to ask legal expert question. The information is vast, with soon-to-be-added lesson plan and teaching resources.
•Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press is an excellent Web site and resource for a myriad of information about legal and ethical issues as well as reporting and information gathering issues.
• The Poynter Institute and NewsU are two wonderful sites for information that will strengthen your journalism program. The Poynter links here go to ethical issues. Another continues the list and a third goes to online and multimedia ethics tips. The NewsU link goes to courses offered for commercial journalists and collegiate and scholastic media students.
• Journalists’ Toolbox is a product of the Society of Professional Journalists This particular link goes to ethics, but in particular to copyright and plagiarism resources.
• Freedom Forum/First Amendment Center plenty of good resources in terms of lessons and articles as well as research for the classroom and/or situations where you need background and philosophical rationale.
• The Newseum covers a wealth of historical and philosophical information and programs on journalism, and is an excellent resource of what are current newspaper design trends.
Essential Documents for journalism students and advisers
• JEA/AEJMC Model editorial policy
• JEA statement against prior review
• JEA Adviser Code of Ethics
• Model standards of professional journalistic conduct to students, administrators and others.
• Empower students to make decisions of style, structure and content by creating a learning atmosphere where students will actively practice critical thinking and decision making.
• Encourage students to seek out points of view and to explore a variety of information sources in their decision making.
• Support and defend a free, robust and active forum for student expression without prior review or restraint.
• Emphasize the importance of accuracy, balance and clarity in all aspects of news gathering and reporting.
• Show trust in students as they carry out their responsibilities by encouraging and supporting them in a caring learning environment.
• Remain informed on press rights and responsibilities to provide students with sources of legal information.
• Advise, not act as censors or decision makers.
• Display professional and personal integrity in situations which might be construed as potential conflicts of interest.
• Support free expression for others in local and larger communities.
• Counsel students to avoid deceptive practices in all practices of publication work.
• Model effective communications skills by continuously updating knowledge of media education.
• NSPA Student Code of Ethics