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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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Empowerment, making a difference,
is REAL news

Posted by on Dec 18, 2017 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Censored news is fake news

by Candace Bowen, MJE
Nearly half of U.S. voters think media fabricate news stories about President Donald Trump and his administration, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released this fall.

Commercial media have been trying to drive that number down, but they’re going to need help from journalists too young to even vote yet. High schools, middle schools and even elementary schools have a new crop of reporters who want to tell real stories – and they might just be the answer to changing such poll results.

Take Hilde Lysiak, at 10 years old the youngest member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Her Orange Street News covers everything about her hometown in Pennsylvania from new businesses opening (and old ones closing) to crime stories with quotes from the police and exact wording from criminal complaints.

Both former Student Press Law Center director Frank LoMonte and JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights website have pointed out that censored news is fake news. If sources give student reporters “facts” meant to deceive, if they withhold information about problems thus preventing an attempt at solving them, if they promote platitudes about a school environment that doesn’t exist, this is surely promoting fake news. And it’s not allowing reporters to cover real news that’s important to them and their communities.

In SPJ’s September/October Quill magazine, she’s the Q & A member profile. Asked to offer one piece of advice, Lysiak said, “I would say that reporters should always do whatever it takes to stay focused on getting the truth. Don’t pay attention to the haters. They just zap your energy.”

She also applauded her parents for letting her ride her bike “all over town” when she started reporting as a 7-year-old. “If they hadn’t given me that freedom, I wouldn’t be able to report the news like I do. Sometimes I think the best thing parents can do is get out of the way.”

Thousands of miles away in such places as Democratic Republic of the Congo, UNICEF has been empowering “child reporters,” 12 to 16. Their Stories of Innovation website says, “Evidence gathered over three years in the 11 provinces shows that once aware of their rights, children join forces and take up social issues in their schools and communities. . . . Furthermore, the continued observation of children as eloquent players of change makes adults more respectful in regards to children’s needs.”

These are just two examples of young people whose reporting can make a difference. It’s REAL news, not the least bit fake. They have been allowed and encouraged to find out what is going on in their parts of the world and convey that to their audiences. So even if a 10-year-old can’t make changes, she can inform those who have to power to do so. Think what our high school reporters can – and when allowed to HAVE done that has impact.

Both former Student Press Law Center director Frank LoMonte and JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights website have pointed out that censored news is fake news. If sources give student reporters “facts” meant to deceive, if they withhold information about problems thus preventing an attempt at solving them, if they promote platitudes about a school environment that doesn’t exist, this is surely promoting fake news. And it’s not allowing reporters to cover real news that’s important to them and their communities.

Now just one month shy of 30 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier case (Jan. 13, 1988), it’s time for some administrators and other haters to “get out of the way.” We have a generation wanting to get the truth and report it to others.

 

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Fake news is like a social disease;
we need to treat more than its wounds

Posted by on Sep 25, 2017 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by John Bowen, MJE
The spread of fake news is like a socially transmitted disease for which we now only treat the wounds, Kelly McBride, Vice President, The Pointer Institute, told those attending the Fake or Fact? workshop Sept.22 at Kent State University.

What we figure how, she said, is how to stop the epidemic.

McBride was one of 15 speakers who spoke and answered questions at the 13th annual ethics worker sponsored by The Poynter Institute and Kent State’s School of Journalism.

Archived video and resource materials are available here.

Simply defining fake news, McBride said, will not help the problem. Reaching students and young people through awareness and education will do more.

Fake news is a system of distribution, McBride said. The top 20 fake headlines were shared by 1.3 more people than the top 20 real heads.

Facebook and social media make it possible, Indira Lakshmanan, Newmark Chair in Journalism Ethics at The Poynter Institute told the audience of students, professionals and faculty.

Mizel Stewart III, Vice President, News Operations, Gannett and USA Today, said the distribution system that spreads fake news in its many varieties works because people don’t trust the media. A lack of media credibility led to fake news, even though it is not new, just further reaching because of new technology and the speed of information spread.

Mandy Jenkins, Head of News at Storyful, said journalists need to verify accuracy, be transparent about what we as news media know and seek authenticity of information and sources. We as audiences and journalists need to know who spreads information, what connections they have, who funds them, and what is the reality of what they are saying.

This causes diminished trust in legitimate journalism with potentially dangerous real-world consequences, Stewart said.

For example, reporters take more time to verify and fact-check and accuracy and context, have reduced capacity for original reporting, he added.

Because anyone can be a publisher, Stewart said at best society ends up with distortion, creating the need for knowledge and tools to identify fake information of all types.

Finding media and sources we trust and why, Jenkins said, is crucial to defeating mis- and disinformation.

Stewart added news systems are easily manipulated by those who best understand how they work, citing the rush to be first, omission of background or context and the fact people often supporting information or sites sharing what we already believe.

Other points shared by various speakers:

  • Should media report everything the president tweets?
  • Alternative story forms can be a good way to debunk fake news
  • Share information about fake sites. Associated Press has a weekly story on What’s New in Fake News
  • Once a reporter has exhausted Google, what are the next eight layers of information available for overlooked information (libraries, public records and hard copy data)
  • The professionalism of information sites and sources is important, as is supporting their points
  • Real journalists correct their mistakes. Fake news does not. Is the intent of the media to deceive?
  • Too many reporters have no experience with sources lying or distorting. How do we train them to be aware of it?
  • Spreaders of fake news are now using the First Amendment as a weapon against itself so fake news seems to equal real news

“The audience,” Stewart said in response to a question, “has been conditioned to expect opinion as journalism. How do we deal with that?”

For additional information and lessons on fake new prevention and identification, see our Tools of Truth fake news package,

 

 

 

 

 

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Tools of Truth: all lessons

Posted by on Sep 1, 2017 in Blog, Lessons, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

All Tools of Truth lessons are listed, annotated here

Sloppy reporting

The first lesson explores ethical decision-making about what to publish and the importance of verification in that process. It is a case study that puts students in the role of an editor as they walk through a hypothetical story pitch and consequences of publishing an unverified story. The activity ends with a class reflection about best practices for verification and accountability. This lesson works best after teachers have already discussed how their schools are affected by state and federal laws (see SPLC First Amendment rights diagram) so students are familiar with their First Amendment rights as student journalists.

• The second lesson builds on the activity from the day before by discussing the purpose of skepticism during the reporting process by looking at a real-life situation where a professional journalist was duped. It also examines the balance between healthy skepticism and unhealthy cynicism.

• What happens when a journalist gets it wrong?

Inaccurate reporting is not the same as fake news, but it can carry the same consequence. What are the forces at play which compel journalists to strive for accuracy? How do media organizations stay accountable for the work of their journalists? What happens when a journalist makes a mistake, and what happens when a media outlet loses the trust of their audience and/or advertisers.

Why, and how, can two people be exposed to the exact same news story and interpret it differently? Why should this matter to journalists? People interpret the news differently depending on their cognitive schematic structure, or prior experiences. It’s important for journalists to understand this process so they can better understand how their audiences are interpreting the content they produce, and so they can ultimately use that information to help shape their content.

Fake news may just be incomplete news if it doesn’t provide the audience with enough context to really tell the story. That can happen with alternative story forms if they just add visuals and fluff but little real information. As The Poynter Institute’s Vicki Krueger describes them, these are “charticles, non-narratives, storytelling devices, ASFs and alts, among others. Some stand alone as a story, and some are supplemental: forms that clarify, complement and explain information in a traditional news story.” In her 10 ways to engage readers with alternative story forms, she offers guidelines for their use. However, a staff’s first decision is when and why to use them. Note that these are to CLARIFY and EXPLAIN INFORMATION to avoid misinforming the audience. While alternative story forms can add visual variety, their main purpose is to accurately convey information.

Critics accuse the news media of only reporting bad news, but journalists must investigate and report on problems. One alternative to reporting solely on the problem is to report on how people and communities are seeking to solve those problems. This form of investigative journalism is called “solutions journalism.” This lesson provides an introduction to solutions journalism and encourages student reporters to generate ideas about how they could use this approach in their own reporting.

The community gets information about what is happening at school through different publications, but not all of these publications are journalistic. In this lesson, students will differentiate between student reporting and school public relations by comparing and contrasting student publications with school public relations content such as newsletters, school-created magazines or school websites created and maintained by adults in the community.

Deceptive news

Interpretation, framing and sourcing

Why, and how, can two people be exposed to the exact same news story and interpret it differently? Why should this matter to journalists? People interpret the news differently depending on their cognitive schematic structure, or prior experiences. It’s important for journalists to understand this process so they can better understand how their audiences are interpreting the content they produce, so they can ultimately use that information to help shape their content

Journalists are taught to be objective, so they don’t “frame” stories” … or do they? Whether consciously or unconsciously, research suggests time and time again that what the media decides to cover, and how they cover it, ultimately influences what people find important and how they interpret the news. So it’s important for journalists to consider their story angle, word choice and even interview questions to be sure they don’t rely on social stereotypes, which could potentially be inaccurate, to tell their stories.

In the 21st century, we choose the media sources we consume in an increasingly passive manner. Stories show up in our news feeds and social media feeds, or in forwarded emails; often we don’t know the sources, or the sources look familiar, but they are from nefarious sources. Explore the changing nature of how we consume news, and help your students choose their information wisely.

Deceptive advertising

Questions of fake news and disinformation arise almost daily. Citizens also face information spread by sponsored content, an approach to storytelling designed to bring needed revenue to news media. The trouble is most readers and viewers cannot tell sponsored news from reported news. This lesson can help students understand how sponsored news developed, how to recognize it and ways to assist non-journalism communities in dealing with it.

Because of the rapid spread of sponsored content or native advertising, it is possible your students will have to decide whether to use them in their student media. Faced with that decision, what arguments would students raise and what decisions would they make – and why?

Because of the rapid spread of sponsored content, students may have to decide whether to accept sponsored content in their student media. How well can they recognize it and what would they do once they recognize it?

From previous lessons, student journalists should be aware of native ads and sponsored content and the importance of understanding the issues they raise. Now, they take this awareness and knowledge a step further and become the teachers to their various communities. They can use the positions they reported in the last lesson and inform others.

In this lesson, the teacher will lead students to create a Pinterest board that identifies native ads and sponsored content since it always helps to visually explain journalism terminology.

This lesson should follow other lessons on sponsored content. To help maintain student awareness of native ads and sponsored content, students will create Storify news stories and publish them to keep themselves and their communities aware of each.

Identification of Fake News

There has been a lot of talk lately about “fake news” because it has been particularly prevalent during the recent 2016 Presidential election campaign. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 62 percent of Americans get their news from social media sites and 44 percent get their news specifically from Facebook. Nearly 90 percent of millennials regularly get news from Facebook. In addition, a recent study from Stanford University revealed that many teens have difficulty analyzing the news; 82 percent of middle school students surveyed couldn’t tell the difference between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a legitimate news story.

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn what fake news is, differentiate it from other types of news (including satirical, misleading and tabloid news), develop strategies for spotting fake news and consider what can be done about the proliferation of fake news.

Following the How to Spot Fake News lesson or Satire’s role in Current Events lesson (or perhaps even on its own or before the lesson), urge students to download the Jeopardy-style game to see how they really do in identifying fake news.

In this lesson, students explore propaganda techniques, and discuss how they are the targets of advertisers and politicians. Students will understand and identify how propaganda techniques are used to influence them into doing, feeling and believing a message that may or may not be of benefit to them. Students will create their own propaganda message using one (or more) of 11 known propaganda techniques. The key is to help students begin an awareness of, and the ability to identify, how their outlook on life is related to the messages they see. This lesson takes one 60-minute class period to complete.

In this lesson, students pick up where they left off in propaganda techniques as well as the concept of “spin” and discuss how politicians use these techniques to sway public opinion. Students will identify propaganda used in past and current ads and create their own advertisement using an assigned propaganda technique. Students will also examine how politicians spin current events to suit their own agendas and will assume the role of a prominent political figure’s communication representative who is responsible for spinning news events.

Censorship

In this noncontinuous lesson, students will localize the 2016 Gallup survey “Free Expression on Campus: A Survey of U.S. College Students and U.S. Adults.”  Students will use their technical writing skills to craft the directions (teachers and students), questions similar to the Gallup questions, and an email in addition to tabulating and comparing the survey results. Students will then compare their results with the national results, create an infographic and then write a reflection of the process.

The lesson starts by providing a prompt in which students examine what they would like to cover, but feel they can’t for some reason. Discussion addresses why this self-censorship exists and examines whether this self-censorship should be abandoned.

Students and the public have a right to view many records kept by schools, municipalities,  states and federal government. Students should review how to submit a public records request and understand the legal aspects of doing so.The Student Press Law Center also hosts an open records letter generator to make it easy to do. Most often, the Freedom of Information Act request will come at a time when you might be crunched for time. Use this lesson to become more familiar with your rights under the Freedom of Information Act.

Satire

Satire is hard

Students are funny. Students are smart. But are they smart enough to be funny with satire in a way that advances the journalistic goals of the publication? Can they do it without violating the SPJ ethical guidelines or their own publications’ ethical guidelines? Use this lesson to help students understand purpose of satire as a journalistic tool.

Satire in your publications; who is the joke really on?

Students think of themselves as smart and funny, but does that mean they can handle satire? Satire opens students up to many legal risks including libel and invasion of privacy. Use this activity to explore some of the pitfalls of using satire in your publications.

• Satire’s role in current events

According to Wyatt Mason in an online article published in the New York Times Magazine titled “My Satirical Self,” readers in the 21st century have “taken shelter in the ridiculous.” He provides an excerpt from The Onion, a satirical online news source referenced as “America’s Finest News Source,” as an example of an escape from the inescapable ridiculousness of society, politics, and other vice and follies. New literacies have helped grow the genre of satire, and as Americans turn to this genre as a source for news and entertainment, students must understand the core elements that create satire.

Home

 

Contributors

Candace Perkins Bowen, MJE

John Bowen, MJE

Maggie Cogar, CJE

Michael Johnson

Lori Keekley, MJE

Jeff Kocur, CJE

Kristin Taylor, CJE

 

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Tools of Truth landing page

Posted by on Aug 30, 2017 in Blog, Featured, Law and Ethics, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


In the era of the fight against fake news, we believe journalists must be aware of the social climate surrounding the work they do. The attacks and delegitimization of the news media on a national scale shouldn’t make us question the work we do.

We must be able to educate ourselves and our audiences about the role and mission of a 21st century journalist.

We’ve created this set of tools for educators to promote discussion about truth and credibility in the media we access as makers, sharers, consumers and evaluators.

Our lessons are in four different areas to help meet this goal:

Sloppy reporting

Censorship

Satire

Deceptive reporting

• Link to all lessons in one place

 

Contributors

Candace Perkins Bowen, MJE

John Bowen, MJE

Maggie Cogar, CJE

Michael Johnson

Lori Keekley, MJE

Jeff Kocur, CJE

Kristin Taylor, CJE

 

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