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Tweet25- Paying the cost of Hazelwood

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Tweet-25 Information coherence and civic engagement cannot develop under Hazelwood. #25HZLWD

http://jeasprc.org/payingthecost/

by John Bowen
Information coherence is at the core of democracy.

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Information coherence allows those in a democracy to compare, digest and use information. With it, communities can make informed and intelligent decisions.

Without it, communities falter.

Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in The Elements of Journalism also refer to this approach as one that allows audiences to make sense of information.

“Coherence,” the authors write, is “making sense of the facts. Coherence must be the ultimate test of journalistic truth.”

Accuracy, they write, is the foundation on which everything else – context, interpretation, debate, public communication and trust – is built.

Journalistic truth is a process, they say.

“If the foundation is faulty, everything else is flawed,” they say.

Neither the journalistic process nor information coherence works under an educational system guided by foggy and manipulative Hazelwood thinking, where prior review and prior restraint keep information from making sense, silence debate and undermine trust.

Information coherence is been a priority in schools and communities where 25 years of Hazelwood have limited – or should we say strangled – exchange of ideas and development of information coherence.

We could call it the cost of Hazelwood. Unless cured, this cost of Hazelwood has been, and will continue to be, high.

This cost includes:
• Citizens who do not trust authority figures because they never were involved with decision making in a learning environment
• Citizens who do not trust information authority presents because their background has shown them it has always been slanted or incomplete
• Citizens who do not participate in civic engagement because they have taught or have experienced education in which they had no voice
• Citizens who cannot respect the principles and actions of a free and responsible press because they have never seen one in their schools.

Given this heritage, these costs will only deepen in the future as schools reach out to control expression outside the school environment because untrained students misuse social media and the Internet to bully others.

We must, as the Student Press Law Center says, develop a cure for Hazelwood, one that empowers students to practice the essential freedoms and skills of a democracy, and become engaged with decision-making that creates an impact on their lives and on the lives of others.

We honor schools which have not paid Hazelwood’s price. We salute these schools and celebrate their leaders, whether administrators or community members, for actions leading to the path of learning and civic enrichment.

But, in the end, we have not done enough. It is not enough to note that Hazelwood has led to a decline in information coherence as well as in civic engagement. If we have not tried to intercede in this process in and outside schools, then we are, in many ways, responsible for it.

Others in this series have said it well: Hazelwood is, has been and will continue to be everyone’s problem.

Its effects will only continue unless we do all in our power to educate ourselves, our students and our communities about why we must have a Hazelwood Cure.

And then work to create one.

If we continue to ignore Hazelwood’s cost, if we do not seek a cure, then we bear the burden of responsibility for the lack of action that enables such cultural malaise to continue.

To do nothing to is chose.

What will be at the core of your plan of action?  What will you do to empower a Hazelwood Cure?

Resources:
• Press Freedom in Practice
http://www.americanpressinstitute.org/docs/Foundation/Training/pressfreedom.pdf
• Cure Hazelwood
http://www.splc.org/cure.html
• Resources for school newspaper advisers
http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/26/student-journalism-resources-for-school-newspaper-advisers/
• Media Adviser’s Forum
https://www.splc.org/classroomresources/mediaadvisers.asp
• Scholastic Journalism Resources
http://www.asjmc.org/resources/scholastic/index.php
• Statements
http://jea.org/home/about-jea/statements/
• Teaching and learning about journalism
http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/13/teaching-and-learning-about-journalism/
• Scholastic journalism resources
http://www.hsj.org/teachers/index.cfm?requestAction=goMenuContent&menu_id=6&menu_page_item_id=16&CmsPagesID=181
• High school journalism
http://www.journaliststoolbox.org/archive/high-school-journalism/

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