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Brett Kavanaugh’s 1983 yearbook provides teachable moments

Posted by on Sep 27, 2018 in Blog, Scholastic Journalism, Yearbook | 1 comment

Yearbooks are forever.

We wear this statement on matching T-shirts, mail it home on marketing postcards and proudly display it on homemade posters created by dedicated publications staffs nationwide.

But less than one week before National Yearbook Week 2018, the phrase takes on new significance during the hearings surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Earlier this week, Kavanaugh’s 1983 Georgetown Prep yearbook page made the news for its references to drinking and partying along with coded mentions of a female classmate that appear to be demeaning inside jokes.

Seeing a yearbook page in the news is always a teachable moment, of course. Journalism teachers can show students — and other stakeholders — the value of yearbooks as historical record, as memory keepers and, depending on one’s perspective, possibly as a sort of character reference. The way people hold on to yearbooks, as Heather Schwedel describes in this Slate article, draws attention to a student publication 35 years later as a form of historical evidence.

What complicates the larger discourse is the social media noise, which quickly shifted to placing blame on the yearbook adviser and others responsible for producing the publication. A tweet by Soledad O’Brien questioned the adviser, and the comments that followed illustrate the wide range of uninformed public opinions about what should and shouldn’t find its way into a yearbook — and who plays a hand in that decision.

What can yearbook staff members learn from the 1983 Cupola?

Recent H.L. Hall National Yearbook Adviser of the Year winners share their perspectives to help add context and offer guidance for students and teachers discussing this in their journalism classes.

 

What is the role of the adviser?

“Advisers are responsible for helping guide staff members in understanding their responsibilities and through challenges they face. They are not there to censor or to dictate content. They are there to provide support, advice and direction. Advisers are not there to serve as editors of student publications. They are there to help students establish the standards and guide them.”

— Brenda Field, MJE; Glenbrook South High School (Glenbrook, Ill.)

“First and foremost, the role of the yearbook adviser is to teach responsible journalism. If we’re doing our jobs, then students will be equipped to make responsible decisions regarding content. And this is what happens every single day in yearbook journalism classrooms across the country. Yes, I read every word that went into the books I advised, as that was the expectation in my school and community. But it was the editors and staff who ultimately determined content.”

— Cindy Todd; retired from Westlake High School (Austin, Texas)

 

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A new school year, a new staff – make sure your staff is well informed

Posted by on Sep 24, 2018 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Cyndi Hyatt
By now we all have fallen into the rhythm of another academic year.  With the advent of new staffs, new ideas and maybe new procedures it’s also good to pause and reflect.

What have you done to make sure your staff, especially the rookies, is trained in more than how to write copy, conduct an interview or edit a package?

Student journalists are eager to cover what’s news but they need to be armed with the necessary tools, skills and knowledge BEFORE the story is filed.

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Use of VR by scholastic media QT 60

Posted by on Apr 17, 2018 in Blog, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

 

Key points/action:

According to its proponents, Virtual Reality offers virtual and immersive storytelling that puts audiences into the scene and enables them to feel such emotions as fear. VR, proponents say, gives people authentic reactions of those in the real situation.

Commercial news media, and others,k are trying VR out across the country. Columbia Journalism Review calls VR “ascendant,” and cites ongoing projects like Harvest of Change and Project Syria. CJR also cites growing consumer interest in VR.

Despite commercial use and excitement about VR’s use, questions still remain for its use in scholastic media. The best thing for staffs to consider is whether using VR as telling stories or presenting news is the best platform or approach.

Some questions:

• Accuracy of context?

• Does its use reflect the preciousness of the real event?

• Is the information expressed in context?

• Are the images accurate and in context?

• Has nothing been added not in the “live” event itself?

What guidelines should student media adapt or create for VR that maintain the best of journalism’s ethical standards?

Stance:

We feel there are no quick and easy answers, but plenty of ethical room for discussion and implementation of workable guidelines.

Reasoning/suggestions:

Before spending funds of the tools needed to make VR become a local and effective tool, student study how journalism organizations use it or plan to use it and how they handle ethical concerns.

ResourcesThe Future of News: Virtual Reality- TED Talks

Virtual reality is journalism’s next frontier – Columbia Journalism Review

 

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Ad Placement QT53

Posted by on Mar 8, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Newspapers used to keep in-depth, front page and opinion pages completely separated from advertising.

The thinking was the advertising and promotion of products should not appear to influence a newspaper’s editorial choices. They wanted to keep their most important pages dedicated to the content they deemed most important.

These self-imposed guidelines have relaxed significantly in recent years. Newspapers include ads on front pages and on in-depth pages, often in prominent places on the outside edges.

Most newspapers do still keep the editorial pages free of advertising in order to keep their editorial content free from explicit or inferred influence.

When students secure advertising for the newspaper, editors must decide where that content will go. In order to maintain the integrity of the most important aspects of your newspaper.

They need to make sure their advertising is placed away from editorial pages and in-depth content, but consider carefully what compromises they might make on the front page.

If there is page page advertising, what premium price should get from advertiser(s).


Guideline:

Ads will touch student produced content on the inside pages of the publication with no ads on the editorial or in-depth pages.

Organizations directly competing with each other will be placed on different pages, when possible. Special pricing will be available for ads that run in color on the back page.

Question: Where do we put all of these ads we’re getting?

Stance: Advertising must not show up on editorial pages, in-depth pages or the front page.

Reasoning/suggestions: When students secure advertising for the newspaper, editors must decide where that content will go. In order to maintain the integrity of the most important aspects of the news medium.  Ensure advertising is placed away from editorial pages,  in-depth content and your front page.

If students opt to run ads on the front page, the ad shouldn’t overwhelm the content or appear to be actual news content. This is a longstanding principle with most publications and is meant to avoid the potential for conflicts of interest.

Advertising must be clearly recognizable and differentiated from the most import and highest profile content.

Resources:

Student media guide to advertising law, SPLC

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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