Posts Tagged "censorship"

In case you missed something we’ve done …


In case you might have missed some of our key projects and materials, here is a quick and easy way to locate them. Materials range from access to the Panic Button to passing free expression legislation in your state.

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Censorship lesson and case study: Fond du Lac


Censorship Case Study
by Jeff Kocur

A case study on the Fond du Lac High School Cardinal Column’s censorship by administration after the publishing of an article on a rape culture at the school. The study involves censorship of Fond du Lac High School’s by administration after the publishing of an article on a rape culture at the school. Students examine the application of the First Amendment to high school students and evaluate and hypothesize what they might do if faced with a similar situation.

• Students will examine the application of the First Amendment to high school students
• Students will discuss the censorship of a high school publication.
• Students will evaluate and hypothesize what they would do if they were in a similar situation.

Common Core State Standards
Informational text; Integration of knowledge and ideas
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
• Informational text; Integration of knowledge and ideas
Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principlesand use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses).

100 minutes (Two 50-minute classes)

Materials / resources
Handout 1

Handout 2
Rape Culture Coverage
For more information about the situation:
• Article on the issue
• Student Press Law Center with links to story
• Article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Lesson step-by-step
Day One:

1. Background — 3 minutes
Teacher should either talk through or project the following:
Summation of issue:
Students at the Cardinal Columns, the student run newspaper at Fond Du Lac High School in Fond Du Lac, Wisc., were compelled to write a piece in the February issue about a rape culture at their school. The Editor-in-Chief, Tanvi Kumar told the Student Press Law Center the following.

“We are so saturated in a society that tolerates and even condones objectification of women and sexualizes them to be less than human beings,” Kumar said. “I think a lot of that … contributes to rape jokes and rape culture, and it’s not something that I could see going under the radar anymore.”

After the article was published, the principal, Jon Wiltzius, enacted a school board policy on the books, but not in practice, that would require the students to submit their paper to him prior to publication. He censored a photo on the cover of the next issue that was critical of the new policy.

2. Opening question — 2 minutes
Ask the students “What if this happened at your school?”
Teacher note: A healthy, mutual understanding of the First Amendment between your staff and your administrator would likely make this a non-issue, but not all schools are that lucky. You may want to share the First Amendment with the students as well.

3. Reading the article — 25 minutes
Teacher should pass out the article. Students should read the coverage in its entirety.

4. Pair work — 15 minutes
Teacher should pass out “Handout 1.” Students could work on the sheet in pairs.

5. Homework
If students have not finished the handout, ask them to do it for homework.

Day 2

1. Recap — 5 minutes
Ask students to “remind you” of what they read about the day before.

2. Large group discussion — 15 minutes
Teacher should ask each group to report their answers. Teacher should facilitate the discussion.

3. Small group work — 15 minutes
Ask each pair to partner with another pair. Pass out “Handout 2.” Students should answer the questions from the sheet.

4. Large group discussion — 15 minutes
Again, teacher should ask each group to report their answers. Teacher should facilitate the discussion.

If students would like more information on the Fond du Lac censorship, they should access the articles listed in the resources section.

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Fond du Lac gets new policy,
content in hands of students, adviser


Students at Wisconsin’s Fond du Lac High have a new editorial policy this fall after a spring and summer of working to reach compromise that would end prior review and restraint.

Reporter Sharon Roznik wrote in the  local  fdlreporter the board of education would support guidelines that give the “final decision-making process for publication ‘lies with the editors-in-chief and the editorial board in consultation with the faculty adviser.'”

Roznik and Cardinal Columns adviser Matt Smith report that Smith “has the authority” to refuse publication if material is libelous or obscene or can be called unprotected speech.

Roznik quotes Smith as appreciative of the board working with him and students obtain a solution.

“The students and I will meet regularly with the principal and/or district staff to discuss how things are going and continue building understanding about best practices for scholastic journalism as well as appreciation for how well our students operate and how much they deserve our trust and support. ” Smith wrote in an email earlier this month.”

Smith, wrote Roznik, said the best thing for the district in the long run is to make the Cardinal Columns a public forum for student expression.

To see the new policy guidelines, go here.

For background on the issue, go herehere and here.


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The R-Word and the WaPo


by Matt Schott August 22, the Washington Post editorial board decided to no longer use the term Redskins in its editorials (I believe it will live on in the sports and news sections).

This is a decision that seems to be pretty roundly lauded, particularly by Native American groups who’ve been fighting for this change for years. And it is a decision to be lauded. Continuing to use a racial epithet as a team name is unacceptable.

However, let’s not get hurt ourselves patting the WaPo editorial board on the back for its decisions. While it is, by far, the most prominent editorial board to refuse to do this (and likely one of the most influential), it is not the first.

No, for that, you would need to travel to Pennsylvania.

Specifically, to Neshaminy High School.

Even more specifically, you’d need to visit with the student editors of The Playwickian, Neshaminy’s student newspaper. 

While it is, by far, the most prominent editorial board to refuse to do this (and likely one of the most influential), it is not the first. No, for that, you would need to travel to Pennsylvania. Specifically, to Neshaminy High School.

In a decision that raised the ire of students, their principal and their school board, the editorial board of The Playwickian decided to no longer use the term Redskins (which is the school mascot) more than a year ago. A year.

And for that past year, they’ve been locked in battles with those aforementioned groups, fighting the principal who overturned their ban. The editorial board continued to defy its principal, threatening legal action if the school district continued fighting the ban.

The students’ mettle was tested when a student submitted a letter to the editor using the word, disagreeing with the editorial board’s decision. The editors chose to run it with the word Redskins changed to R——-.

Administrators ordered it to run unedited. The editorial board pulled it, choosing to run white space instead. The timing from the WaPo dovetails nicely with these students’ fight.

While I’d imagine this was announced because the NFL season kicking off in early September, this is also the time of year where students head back to school.

It would be great, as the student editors at Neshaminy headed back to their student newsroom – if the Washington Post, one of the vanguards of American journalism in the last 50 years – would provide a tip of the hat to these student journalists who showed them where the path of right was on this issue.

Perhaps the Post could send a letter to the students on staff, offer some advice or something of that sort. So often in the scholastic journalism classroom, it is students who look to the professionals for ideas and inspiration.

In this case, it’s the professionals who stand on the shoulders of giants. They should acknowledge this.

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Current First Amendment issues worth noting


Looking for discussion starters for the end of school?

For the latest on three nationally ongoing censorship issues, check out:

Fond du Lac, WI

• Cardinal Columns: Filthy administrative minds, “dangerous advice” and the persistent kids of Cardinal Columns
• They’re still censoring the Cardinal Columns FYI – now deny seniors a final issues
• Fond du Lac students protest school censorship

Neshaminy, PA
• Neshaminy board tables controversial publication policy changes

• Controversial Neshaminy policy going back to committee

• Why forcing a student newspaper to use a racial slur is wrong on so many levels

• Playwickian staff implores Neshaminy board not to adopt policy preventing student newspaper from banning use of ‘Redskin’ mascot name

Heber City, UT
• Altered yearbook photos at Utah high school spark controversy

• School alters girls’ yearbook photos to cover bare skin, is not sorry

• Photoshop a yearbook photo neckline, and you tell a teen to be someone else

• ‘Shoulder-shaming’ girls at Utah high school: Why the big coverup?

• Students say altered yearbook photos meant to shame them (see related stories)

In related coverage  of journalism ethics now and in the fall, the question of how altering pictures in student media affects journalism as a whole and creates  the potential of multiple ethical lessons.

• Editing yearbook photos not uncommon, says printer



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