Fourth in a series of articles about student journalism that makes a difference
Jane Blystone, MJE
Covering a taboo topic like “rape culture” can be very daunting to any journalist. However the scholastic journalists at Palo Alto High School did not let the culture of silence deter them from telling covering this story that their peers needed to read. Students saw 3000+ copies of “Verde” distributed and 25,000 hits to their sister publication’s website, www.palyvoice.com, move into the public arena.
Their adviser, Paul Kandell, shared the intensity of the work done by the students to cover this story in a thorough and sensitive manner. “With 3,000 print copies, 25,000+ online hits (as of May 1) and countless retellings through print, radio, TV and online interviews by Verde editors, the “You can’t tell me I wasn’t raped” package has broadly impacted awareness and discussion of a taboo subject: “rape culture” and its presence in high school life, particularly when combined with alcohol abuse. The package feels like a public inoculation: It’s hard to imagine any teen reading the story and being as cavalier about drinking or sex – or slut-shaming girls who have been raped. The more who read it the better.”
Students took the initiative to work with the Ochberg Society for Trauma Journalism, the Student Press Law Center, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and a Poynter Institute course work on “Reporting on Sexual Violence.” Was the work intense work? Yes. Was the issue hard to write? Yes. Was the work worth it? Yes. Has it made a difference? Absolutely, and for all time.
Kandell is right and we share these documents with you to show you that well-trained and uncensored scholastic journalists can tackle hard-hitting stories with great depth, broad coverage and a sensitivity that is humbling.
1. Lisie Sabbag’s article “‘You can’t tell me I wasn’t raped’”
2. Will Queen’s piece “Breaking the Silence,”
3. Staff Editorial editorial.
4. Interviews of male students “From a different perspective: a discussion with Paly guys,”
5. Savannah Cordova’s column Taking it Seriously: Ever made a rape joke? This column is for you
6. Staff infographic The state of rape today
7. Complete issue of Verde PDF of Verde Magazine on issuu
8. Letter sent to faculty http://palyvoice.com/2013/04/23/copy-of-introduction-letter-sent-to-faculty/
by Sarah Nichols, MJE
Does a story posted online lose value over time? Is it as important to our readers — and to our media organization — as it was when the story broke?
This important question was the editors’ first true test of the year in the student media program I advise. What first seemed like possible censorship led to a great discussion as they talked about whether to fulfill a request to remove a story posted almost exactly one year prior.
As with any scenario, I thought carefully about the factors when I got the call — in the middle of a different class period, an hour before heading out of town, shoveling down a Chobani as my only meal of the day. The editors responded to my text and said they would stop by in 15 minutes. How will the questions I pose shape their discussion, I wondered?
by John Bowen
In their book, “Blur: How to know what’s true in the age of information overload,” Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel speak of a news process they call “skeptical knowing.” Applying this process, they say, will help journalists and audiences better evaluate information they receive – and pass on. The process involves not only evaluating news but also applying ethical values.
This lesson will explore the basics of that process in trying to determine whether facts and sources used lead to reliable, credible and complete storytelling.
by Candace Bowen
“But of course that is off the record,” he said after my students had been interviewing him for at least 45 minutes.
In unison, 10 heads swiveled in my direction at the end of the row.
“What?” I stammered. “But … but …” And my mind screamed, “That’s not fair!” At the same time, I knew at least part of this dilemma was my own fault and one I should have helped my students avoid.
Third in a series
The post on interviewing ground rules is the third in a series of blogs that will run each Wednesday. Topics discussed, in order, will include FOIA, news literacy, journalism education, positive relationships with administrators, prior review, Making a Difference and private school journalism. We hope you will enjoy them. If you have other topics you feel we should address, please let us know
by Megan Fromm
A recent discussion on the JEAHELP listserv focused on whether students can, and should, write about international news. With the crisis in Syria escalating, and the potential for an American strike more real than ever, high school journalists want to flex their international reporting muscles by covering the conflict in their scholastic media.
Students enjoy reporting on international affairs because in many ways, it makes them feel connected to events from which they would otherwise be totally disassociated. As their world perspectives widen, involvement in foreign politics helps them to develop their dispositions as global citizens.
Click here to learn more
The post on news literacy is the second in a series of blogs that will run each Wednesday. Topics discussed, in order, will include FOIA, news literacy, journalism education, positive relationships with administrators, prior review, Making a Difference and private school journalism. We hope you will enjoy them. If you have other topics you feel we should address, please let us know.
In this way, engaging in media coverage of international affairs is a fantastic way to build students’ news and media literacy. The more they read and watch of the world beyond their school walls, the more they are likely to maintain this curiosity for information as they mature.
However, there are ways to cover international affairs in your scholastic publications that demonstrate both news literacy and relevancy for your school community. After all, the best and most ethical coverage is both contextual and relevant
With tremendous thanks to JEA’s fantastic membership, here are some tips from JEAHELP listserv members on how to encourage your students to cover international news in the most ethical, appropriate way:
1. Localize, localize, localize. Ask students: how can we connect something happening so far away to our own community? Who here, in this school, has a clear, immediate stake in what’s happening?
2. Report, report, report. Covering international politics requires interviews and research just like any other story. Remind students that writing about the media is not news. What local experts could they interview? Who in their community has perspective and experience to offer?
3. Consider secondary coverage. How can your students use infographics or other visual coverage to put international news in a local context? When information isn’t especially timely or local, alternative copy can help to humanize and localize.
4. Don’t regurgitate Google. If students could find the information elsewhere, your publication becomes irrelevant. Tell the stories students can’t find anywhere else.
Finally, advisers should remember that ethically and legally, content decisions in student publications that are designated public forums should ultimately be left in the hands of student editors. Encourage them to demonstrate the best reporting and news writing practices, and grade them accordingly if they fail to adhere to the standards for your publication. But telling students what to report, or not to report, facilitates neither good journalism nor news literacy.