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Prior review, censorship have no educational value: resolutions

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The Journalism Education Association today reaffirmed its opposition to prior review, prior restraint and their use under the guidelines established in the Hazelwood decision.hazelwoodcolor

JEA’s board of directors unanimously took this stand as it voted to endorse a resolution by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication that said, in part, “the Hazelwood level of control over student journalistic speech is clearly incompatible with the effective teaching of journalistic skills, values and practices, and that institutions of secondary and postsecondary education should forswear reliance on Hazelwood as a source of authority for the governance of student and educator expression.”

JEA’s resolution differed slightly from the AEJMC model as it focused more directly on scholastic journalism.

“This resolution is important for two reasons,” JEA president Mark Newton said. “Anytime we can partner with our college colleagues in AEJMC it shows incredible solidarity. And, most importantly, as the leading scholastic journalism education group, we must stand tall and scream at injustice. Make no mistake the Hazelwood Supreme Court decision and its subsequent interpretations are an injustice to education, students, advisers and the First Amendment.”

The JEA resolution states, in part: “The Journalism Education Association (JEA) joins with the Association of Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in stating that no legitimate pedagogical purpose is served by the censorship of student journalism on the grounds that it reflects unflatteringly on school policies and programs, that it candidly discusses sensitive social and political issues, or that it voices opinions challenging to majority views on matters of public concern. The censorship of such speech, or the punishment of media advisers based on that speech, is detrimental to effective learning and teaching, and it cannot be justified by reference to “pedagogical concerns.”

Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said, “Because Hazelwood requires schools to present a justification for censorship that is “’legitimate’ and is based on “pedagogical” concerns, the consensus of the nation’s journalism professors as to what constitutes a legitimate educational reason for censorship should carry persuasive value with judges.”

In a second resolution, also passed unanimously, JEA endorsed an Illinois Journalism Education Association resolution had three major points:
• that the Illinois Journalism Education Association urges school district and school administrators to preserve, enhance and support independent student media; and
• the Illinois Journalism Education Association supports and defends media advisers and strongly urges the end of random reassignment or removal of advisers without due cause, and
• the Illinois Journalism Education Association applauds and staunchly defends the efforts of journalism educators for providing students the skills and education to produce free, responsible and independent student media.

“In any way possible,” Newton said, “JEA has an obligation to support advisers whose jobs and livelihoods are targeted for advocating and supporting student freedom of expression. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to have such a resolution like the one IJEA has written. However, it’s quite apparent that we have a lot of work to do to not only raise awareness, but take one further step to making sure advisers know that we support them, their students and their programs.”

JEA’s Hazelwood resolution can be downloaded here. The Illinois resolution here. The AEJMC resolution here.

JEA’s press rights commission will announce the next step  in the resolution process within a couple of days.

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