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Bringing light to relevant issues, past and present, defines journalistic leadership

Posted by on Jan 2, 2019 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Lessons, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by John Bowen, MJE
“I’d rather be a hammer than a nail
“Blowing in the Wind
“Find the Cost of Freedom
Ohio
“Where Have All the Flowers Gone

How do these lyrics and titles relate to scholastic journalism?

  • They all came at a time when people questioned the media, its role and its leadership.
  • They all came at a time when citizens and journalists complained of government mis-, dis and censored information.
  • They all came at a time when activism and protest – from multiple viewpoints – clouded not only the truth on timely issues but also many people’s minds.

Sound familiar?

Fifty years ago, The U. S. Supreme Court upheld students wearing of black armbands as protected speech during the Vietnam war. That war also spawned events and issues that continued to bring activists, protestors and media together.

The war brought new levels of violence against expression some called unAmerican. “America, love it or leave it” was a forerunner of today’s “Enemy of the State.”

Such verbiage frustrated citizens who sought the truth about issues: The Pentagon Papers. MyLai 4. Lt. William Calley. May 4, 1970. The impact of drugs.

2018 and 2019 highlight a tumultuous new era with key similarities to the past.

Distrust of government and news media. Who tells the truth? Whom can citizens believe? Who lies?

And the current issues: Availability of guns, health, drugs, the environment, misinformation and lying. Growing amounts of stress in student lives.

Sound familiar?

We began to learn from Mary Beth and John Tinker and others who opened the schoolhouse gates to free expression, social awareness and creation of change. Free speech and press are important.

If we truly believe the social responsibility role of the news media is an essential partner with freedom – at all levels – we will empower student journalists to seek the truth, to dig for the whole story and to always question authority. They then question what authority tells society as the Tinkers and others modeled 50 years ago.

Reporting will add new meaning to journalistic leadership, advocacy and solutions.

Consider, as a New Year’s resolution, expanding your journalistic studies to include current issues as well as their historical perspectives. Content choices include:

And, as we move into 2019, the hammers, not the nails, will bring clearer insight and exert stronger leadership in today’s societal issues.

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Arkansas student journalists lose publishing rights, regain them, support from other journalists

Posted by on Dec 9, 2018 in Blog, Legal issues | 0 comments

by Jackie Mink, JEA Emeritus member
A recent challenge in Arkansas left a high school’s newspaper censored and prior review started. With support from other scholastic and professional journalism organizations, the school newspaper has now been allowed to publish.

I thought of a line in my favorite book “To Kill a Mockingbird”recently. It was in the courtroom scene when Atticus Finch says to a witness,“You ran to the house, you ran to the window, you ran inside, you ran to Mayella, you ran for Mr. Tate. Did you in all this running, run for a doctor?” As well as wondering why there was no medical attention, Atticus was probably wondering if the real truth may have been discovered if the doctor had been called.

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Pursuit of accurate information clearly
part of scholastic journalism’s mission

Posted by on May 10, 2018 in Blog, Scholastic Journalism | 0 comments

To some administrators, it’s ‘curses, FOIA’ed again’

By Stan Zoller, MJE

When a student journalist pursues a story and, as H.L. Hall would say, “digs” for information, most journalism educators would be pleased.

And so too, you think, would administrators.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. In fact, it’s becoming more common for school czars to be rankled by a student’s dogged pursuit of information.

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Consider emotional impact as well as news values
when choosing images QT49

Posted by on Feb 7, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Visual Reporting | 0 comments

Censorship should not be an option

by Kristin Taylor
When the editors of the Panther Prowler, the student-run school newspaper for Newbury Park High School, decided to write
a feature article about teenagers having sex in 2015, they knew it was going to be controversial. The controversy wasn’t just about the content of the article, however — it was also about the image they paired with it, which appeared on the cover of their special edition magazine.

Since the article’s focus was the impact of limited sex education in and out of the classroom, the editors decided to use an iconic sex ed image: a condom on a banana.

Respecting the students’ freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment and California Education Code section 48907, administrators did not censor this feature. However, its publication led to an outcry in the parent community, many of whom believed the adults at the school should have censored it.

In an open letter to the community, editors Grace O’Toole and Courtney Brousseau explained their purpose in using this image.

While acknowledging that some felt the picture was “obscene or scandalous,” the editors argued, “It is the quintessential image of sex education. Moreover, it is a nurse-honored, military-practiced, and physician-approved method of teaching safe sex, and while it is not employed at NPHS, public schools across the nation model the proper method of practicing safe sex as a part of their official health curriculum. For this reason, we felt it reflected the angle of the article without sensationalizing the issue.”

The students also pointed out that those upset with adults at the school were missing the point. “It is important to note that while our adviser and administration did protect our guaranteed freedom of press, they did not produce or in any way endorse the magazine,” they wrote. “The decision to publish and distribute the magazine rested solely with the editors of the publication, not the adviser or the administration.”

O’Toole and Brousseau did not back down from their choice to use this image, but they did choose to take down the posters they had distributed to advertise the upcoming special edition. They also did not include the image when they published the article online.

“We maintain that [the images on the posters] were not obscene or pornographic. While they may have been suggestive, they were not revealing,” they wrote. “That being said, we did take [the posters] down several days before the distribution of the magazine. We didn’t want the buzz surrounding the posters to detract from our original intention of starting a productive dialogue and for that reason, we chose to focus on what is important – the article.”

This situation illustrates a few important takeaways about visual images and student journalism:

  • Just as with other forms of content, students should have final say over any image they choose to publish. Responsible editors should be ready to explain why they used the image if challenged by the member of the public, but they should not self-censor if they feel a controversial image is justified.
  • Student publications that operate as public forums for student voices provide some legal protection for adults and the school itself, as they operate separate from these entities.
  • Students should evaluate whether the impact of a controversial image will overwhelm the purpose of the reporting. If they feel the image might overshadow the message or is merely sensational, they may want to adjust accordingly.

Ultimately, students have a right to publish images along with their other content, but they should have a discussion about whether those images will hurt or help the main focus of their reporting when warranted. Having a consistent process and ethical guidelines helps student reporters to make good decisions about their images.

 

Quick Tip:

Visual images and censorship

Guideline:

Students should consider not only the news value of an image but also the emotional effect of the image on the audience. 

Social Media Post/Topic:

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, should journalists be 1,000 times more careful about them? And what if someone wants to censor one?

Stance:

Students should have ethical guidelines in their staff manual to guide their decisions about visual images and be able to explain the newsworthiness of any image they publish. Student editors should have final say in all content decisions.

Reasoning/suggestions:

Just as with other forms of content, students should have final say over any image they choose to publish. Student publications that operate as public forums for student voices provide some legal protection for adults and the school itself, as they operate separate from these entities.

Responsible editors should be ready to explain why they used the image if challenged by the member of the public, but they should not self-censor if they feel a controversial image is justified. Students should evaluate whether the impact of a controversial image will overwhelm the purpose of the reporting. If they feel the image might overshadow the message or is merely sensational, they may want to adjust accordingly.

When constructing a process for determining whether to publish an image, students should consider many questions, including:

  • is this image important and relevant to the story?
  • What makes it meaningful?
  • Will the audience understand the information conveyed without reading any accompanying text?
  • What story does it tell?
  • What story would others be able to get from that photo?
  • What, if any, warnings should accompany online content?
  • Is there an alternative, better, way to show the story?

Resources:

Visual ethics guidelines, Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism

Visual Journalism, NPR Code of Ethics

Lesson: To Print or Not to Print, Journalism Education Association

Lesson: A Picture Never Lies, Journalism Education Association

Lesson: When Journalists Err Ethically, Journalism Education Association

Lesson: Pushing Photo Editing Boundaries, Journalism Education Association

Lesson: With Freedom of the Press Comes Great Responsibility, Journalism Education Association

SPJ Code of Ethics, Society of Professional Journalists

NPPA Code of Ethics, National Press Photographers Association

Photojournalism ethics needs a reexamination, The Poynter Institute

Visual ethical guidelines join online, yearbook ethics, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee

Audio: Using Images from Social Media, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee Press Rights Minute

Audio: Ethics in Editing News Photos, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee. Press Rights Minute

 

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Today is Day of Action Day
for curing 30 years of Hazelwood

Posted by on Jan 31, 2018 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

 

The SPLC has events scheduled throughout Jan. 31 to bring attention to the negative effects of Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, which gives public schools the right to censor student publications. Now, more than ever, we need a coordinated effort to protect student journalists’ rights.

Here’s how the SPLC suggests schools (and others) can speak out about the damage this case has brought:

  1. Speak out on Twitter and Instagram why you think student journalists deserve better than the Hazelwood standard using #CureHazelwood.
  2. Change your profile picture to #CureHazelwood to help support the cause.
  3. Tune in to Facebook Live. At the top of every hour from 10am ET through 7pm ET we’ll have 10 minute mini-broadcasts from lots of cool people talking about the impact of censorship on student journalists and the need to overturn Hazelwood. We even have Cathy Kuhlmeier Frey (the named plaintiff and brave student journalist) as one of the guests.  Everyone will be broadcasting live from the SPLC Facebook Page. Make sure to like the page and follow us so you don’t miss it! (Full schedule here.)
  4. Check out our Hazelwood: Then and Now webinar: Hear from former SPLC directors Frank LoMonte and Mark Goodman and current senior legal counsel Mike Hiestand as they talk about what it was like when the Hazelwood decision came down and the rise of the New Voices movement in response. Tune in to our YouTube channel at 11 a.m. ET.

Two videos developed by JEA’s SPRC also talk about Hazelwood’s history and legacy.

A one minute roundup.

And a 3.5 minute explainer:

The SPRC also  has the additional materials about Hazelwood:

A Teacher’s Kit for curing Hazelwood

Payng the cost of Hazelwood

• Seeking to cure the Hazelwood blues

Another 45 essential words

 

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