Pages Navigation Menu
PANIC BUTTON

Maybe #Firstonthefirst initiative can help move the needle

Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 in Blog, Featured, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism | 1 comment

Maybe it was last night’s reflection on Anthony Kennedy’s final day serving as a Supreme Court justice.

Or maybe it was because I’m still recovering from the latest State of the First Amendment survey.

In case you missed it, more than one-third of the survey respondents (40 percent) could not name a single freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment. Only one out of the 1,009 people surveyed could correctly name all five freedoms.

That blows my mind, and I often think about what I can or should be doing differently to help move the needle outside the walls of my classroom.

So today I began what I’m calling #Firstonthefirst.

I made a commitment to talk to five strangers today and share with them about the First Amendment. I’m going to do it on the first of every month, and I hope you’ll join me.

It’s easy enough to visit with folks in line at Starbucks or the grocery checkout, or colleagues at school, or parents on the bleachers at your kiddo’s sporting event. A few minutes of conversation can make a huge difference. I want the people in my community to know the five freedoms and to have a better understanding of why the First Amendment matters.

To make a visual connection, I wore one of my First Amendment T-shirts, and I’ll do that for each #Firstonthefirst. There’s something about seeing those 45 words (or in the case of this shirt, my favorite of those 45) that makes it more memorable, and I hope to leverage the power of social media to spread this movement and get my students — and all of you — having these First Amendment conversations as well.

Read More

Handling sponsored content, native ads QT52  

Posted by on Feb 27, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Although it is quite possible scholastic media will never face making a decision to run material known as sponsored content or native ads, students and advisers should prepare guidelines just in case.

Sponsored content and native advertising, two media terms for paid materials, are becoming a fact of life for media and consumers. That said, student media, when faced with publishing them, should act carefully and with the best interests of the audience/consumer first.

Scholastic media owe it to their audiences to expect clearly sourced and non-slanted information, particularly with so much concern with fake news.

Guideline

In the last several years, commercial media have faced a new kind of paid content — “native advertising” or “sponsored content.” The goal with this content is to provide advertising in a way that mimics the look and style of news/editorial content instead of appearing as traditional advertising. This style of advertising has raised serious ethical issues and discussion.

Given the influx of this type of advertising and its spread into scholastic media, students should remember their obligation to keep their communities aware of what kind of content they are publishing.

Communities need to know the type content they are exposed to so they can make informed and rational decisions.

Question: Should your student media accept sponsored content?

Key points/action: Sponsored content and native advertising, two media terms for paid materials, are becoming a fact of life for media and consumers. That said, student media, when faced with publishing them, should act carefully and with the best interests of the audience/consumer first.

Since it is financed ads or reporting, it can be fake news or at least deceptive information, and approached carefully.

Stance: We believe sponsored content can be accepted and published while still protecting the integrity and credibility of student media.

Reasoning/suggestions: Students must create clear guidelines for publishing sponsored content. Recommendation for inclusion in those guidelines should include:

  • Prominent and clear identification of the piece as sponsored content.
  • A clear statement, at least on the op-ed pages or their equivalent, of why your student media publish sponsored content and who paid for the piece or benefits from its publication.
  • Verification, as much as is possible, of the credibility and factualness of information and sources in the piece.
  • A concise statement, at least on the op-ed pages or their equivalent, that what your editorial board’s support of included material is Ex: this content does not necessarily represent the view of your media or school system).Resources:

Making Memories, One Lie at a Time (example of native ad), Slate Web magazine
New York Times Tones Down Labeling on Its Sponsored Posts, Advertising Age
Native Advertising Examples: 5 or the Best (and Worst), WordStream Online Advertising
The Native Advertising Playbook, Interactive Advertising Bureau
Audio: Sponsored Content, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee, Press Rights Minute
PR Giant Edelman Calls for Ethics in Sponsored Content, Forbes
FTC: Publishers Will Be Held Responsible for Misleading native Ads, Adexchanger.com

Related: These points and other decisions about mission statement, forum status and editorial policy should be part of a Foundations Package  that protects journalistically responsible student expression.

 

Read More

Signing on as FAPFA candidate makes powerful symbolic statement

Posted by on Nov 23, 2016 in Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 2 comments

Confession: For the past 10 days, I’ve spent a good chunk of time glued to media coverage of President-elect Trump, reading about his meetings with prospective leaders and reports of cabinet appointments, cries against Hamilton and SNL on Twitter and updates about the on-again, off-again New York Times meeting.

My nervousness mounts as we transition to a new president known for his attacks on news organizations, for bullying those who ask tough questions, for threats to “open up” libel laws, for ugly rants against those who hold steady to report on the record the actions of our leaders.

And while I’ve made sure to read, donate, sign petitions and facilitate respectful dialogue, I’ve also spent the past 10 days thinking about my journalism students. What can I do? What can we do? What can they do?

As is often the case, the greatest potential for impact is within the classroom. It’s clear to me that my own students’ efforts practicing, protecting and promoting their First Amendment rights matter more than ever.

Next week, Dec. 1, 2016, is the deadline for JEA’s First Amendment Press Freedom Award. I’m glad my students will apply, and here are three reasons I urge other scholastic media programs to do the same:

[1] The FAPFA process provides an important opportunity for students to revisit the core principles of their journalism program as they tell the stories of their school community through truthful and accurate reporting using a wide range of diverse, credible sources. The editors know their publication policies inside and out, but do the other staff members? Would every student on staff be able to answer the FAPFA questions accurately? Perhaps this an opportunity for editors to conduct a mini-lesson to educate or review with rookies some “What happens if …” scenarios.

[2] The possibility of recognition as a First Amendment school is another way to increase awareness in the school and throughout the community. Even if school administrators are supportive of students’ free expression rights both in theory and in practice, it’s likely there are community members who are less aware of what it means for students to make all content decisions free of administrative censorship. It’s another chance to spread the word about what the First Amendment means and why it matters.

Remember, 39 percent of Americans could not name even one of the five freedoms.

Can FAPFA recognition serve to make all stakeholders better understand the educational significance of providing students with an outlet for free expression and the long-term benefits of empowering students with the responsibility of the decision-making process?

Celebrating a school’s First Amendment Press Freedom Award recognition can play a role in the case for scholastic media curriculum development and the long game in protecting both First Amendment education and scholastic journalism specifically.

[3] Signing on as a FAPFA candidate makes a powerful symbolic statement at a crucial time.

My own students have protection from California Ed Code 48907, but they’ll still be using the opportunity JEA’s First Amendment Press Freedom Award provides. In other words, they’ll apply for the award because they can. It’s a chance to speak up and speak out for why that freedom of expression matters so much, and a chance to draw attention to states where students don’t have that right.

Discussing the questions on the first-round FAPFA form reminds students that not every student media program is lucky enough to operate in a student-led environment with journalists empowered by the critical thinking experience of their decision-making process. It puts things in perspective. It emboldens them to use the tools at their disposal, creatively and positively, to fight the good fight. It draws attention to the injustice in schools and states with administrative censorship and helps increase efforts toward press rights legislation.

Editors can proudly share their efforts in attempt to leverage that social currency and widen the scope of attention for First Amendment freedoms just when the New Voices movement — and new White House administration — need it most.

 

by Sarah Nichols, MJE

Read More

Latest controversy reminds us of work to be done

Posted by on Nov 23, 2011 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Never a dull moment in the world of high school censorship, it seems. The latest controversy comes from Bernalillo (N.M.) High School regarding a cartoon pulled from the student newspaper, The Basement.
As with many of these situations, I’m disturbed by more than one aspect of the story. To minimize my choir-preaching here, I’ll skip the disappointment about another principal shortchanging students’ learning by taking away their power to make important decisions regarding content. I’ll move past the part about students’ voices being stifled and the irony that the cartoon, now available online, will reach far more eyeballs than if the principal had allowed its publication as originally planned.

Here’s what disturbed me most about the situation: The principal “hosted a debate Monday about the rights of student journalists.”

I’m all for public discourse, civil dialogue and any kind of event that might bring heightened awareness to First Amendment rights. But it sounds here like this was a staged event, a la American Idol, in which attendees could determine the fate of student media.

I don’t believe the First Amendment is up for debate, but principals continue to argue otherwise.

Opening the conversation to a town hall-style debate reminds me that we need to do more to educate the average reader, voter, parent, legislator, community member and student about student press rights. We need to continue to raise our collective voices.

Here are a few suggestions to guide students and advisers in their brainstorming for 2012:

1. Host a First Amendment Symposium. The Indiana High School Press Association folks do a great job with their symposium and can serve as a model for other states or groups. Student media groups need to be the ones shaping the discussion rather than being the ones affected by knee-jerk reactions.

2. Go crazy with positive press rights propaganda. I loved the “Bill of Rights on a Stick” from the JEA/NSPA Minneapolis convention adviser bags and generally favor anything fun and interactive that might spread our message. Whether your students promote a free First Amendment mobile app like one the here (although it’s too bad it has so many ads), create a special First Amendment issue of their publication, design new T-shirts focused on the important decision-making skills from their rights and responsibilities, host a question-and-answer event at the public library or some other event, now is the time.

We have three months until Scholastic Journalism Week and plenty of resources at our disposal. Let’s share ideas here for how to make the next set of public events ones we host, ones that educate our stakeholders and ones that keep free student expression a priority.

Read More

Latest controversy reminds us of work to be done

Posted by on Nov 23, 2011 in Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Never a dull moment in the world of high school censorship, it seems. The latest controversy comes from Bernalillo (N.M.) High School regarding a cartoon pulled from the student newspaper, The Basement.
As with many of these situations, I’m disturbed by more than one aspect of the story. To minimize my choir-preaching here, I’ll skip the disappointment about another principal shortchanging students’ learning by taking away their power to make important decisions regarding content. I’ll move past the part about students’ voices being stifled and the irony that the cartoon, now available online, will reach far more eyeballs than if the principal had allowed its publication as originally planned.

Here’s what disturbed me most about the situation: The principal “hosted a debate Monday about the rights of student journalists.”

I’m all for public discourse, civil dialogue and any kind of event that might bring heightened awareness to First Amendment rights. But it sounds here like this was a staged event, a la American Idol, in which attendees could determine the fate of student media.

I don’t believe the First Amendment is up for debate, but principals continue to argue otherwise.

Opening the conversation to a town hall-style debate reminds me that we need to do more to educate the average reader, voter, parent, legislator, community member and student about student press rights. We need to continue to raise our collective voices.

Here are a few suggestions to guide students and advisers in their brainstorming for 2012:

1. Host a First Amendment Symposium. The Indiana High School Press Association folks do a great job with their symposium and can serve as a model for other states or groups. Student media groups need to be the ones shaping the discussion rather than being the ones affected by knee-jerk reactions.

2. Go crazy with positive press rights propaganda. I loved the “Bill of Rights on a Stick” from the JEA/NSPA Minneapolis convention adviser bags and generally favor anything fun and interactive that might spread our message. Whether your students promote a free First Amendment mobile app like one the here (although it’s too bad it has so many ads), create a special First Amendment issue of their publication, design new T-shirts focused on the important decision-making skills from their rights and responsibilities, host a question-and-answer event at the public library or some other event, now is the time.

We have three months until Scholastic Journalism Week and plenty of resources at our disposal. Let’s share ideas here for how to make the next set of public events ones we host, ones that educate our stakeholders and ones that keep free student expression a priority.

Read More