by John Bowen
The deadline is approaching for application for this year’s First Amendment Press Freedom Award (FAPFA). If your staffs have received a Pacemaker or Gold Crown, FAPFA is the next logical step in recognizing journalistic excellence and practice of First Amendment guarantees.
Posts Tagged "First Amendment"
by John Bowen
Lessons of Kristallnacht go beyond the history books
by Stan Zoller
Imagine if you will, that one day your administration comes in and without cause, dismantles your journalism classroom, publication office, and burns every copy of your newspaper and yearbook.
Then, without provocation or notice, the administration corralls your student media staff and yourself and threatens you with termination and your students with expulsion.
All because of who you were and the fact that you and your students advocated and used a voice.
Sure it does.
But in fact it has happened.
Monday, Nov. 10, was the 75th anniversary of ‘Kristallnacht,’ often referred to as the “Night of Broken Glass.” The events of Nov. 9 – 10 were an effort by the Third Reich to round up and arrest more than 30,000 Jews and destroy as much of the property as possible. In addition to destroying homes and personal property, synagogues were targeted as well as their contents.
While Kristallnacht is often connected to broken glass, a focus of the attacks was on the books by Jewish authors. Fires raged throughout Germany as books were burned.
For those journalism educators who teach J-1, a primary lesson focuses, of course, on the First Amendment. Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. How simple is that? And how many times has a young journalist rolled their eyes as they strain to remember them.
It’s easy to forget when there are other things to do – like Tweet, eat, and, of course, meet a deadline.
It’s easy to forget when we are fortunate to have freedom of expression, even if it’s challenged by an overzealous administration.
But the reality is that we can’t forget, which is why Holocaust awareness efforts often include the phrases ‘Never Forget’ or ‘Never Again.’
Cynics will say it’s a “Jewish thing” and an isolated case, but if you take a deep breath and look what at transpired after Kristallnacht, it was more than a “Jewish thing.”
Perhaps as a devout and practicing Jew I am more sensitive to the horrors of the Holocaust and the events leading up to it. Like Kristallnacht.
But I am a career journalist and a journalism educator, so I have had the luxury to practice what the Germans tried to take away 75 years ago.
The images and stories of Kristallnacht are chilling, as are most stories associated with the Holocaust. It’s the lessons, however, that we need to take away.
The intent of Kristallnacht, historians say, was to silence the Jews, eradicate their freedom of expression, destroy their freedom of speech, keep them from assembly, let alone their right to petition. As for the freedom of the press – nonexistent.
Nazi Germany did not have First Amendment rights. Imagine if you will, what life would be like in the United States if we did not have First Amendment rights.
Imagine if you will, coming to school and facing the chaos of a Kristallnacht. You probably can’t. The lessons associated with the First Amendment need to go beyond rote memorization. Students, whether in a journalism class or civics class need to understand what life would be like if we did not have First Amendment rights. They also need to imagine what it would be like if prior review and prior restraint were government mandated daily routines to silence student voices and reprimand those who taught students to have that voice.
Sure, it’s “only” 45 words, but the power behind them is unprecedented as is our right to practice them.
Perhaps educators and student journalists – or maybe all journalists need to reflect on that when Kristallnacht is remembered.
Because when you think about it, it’s not just a “Jewish thing.”read more
by John Bowen
Applications are now available for this year’s First Amendment Press Freedom Award (FAPFA).
Looking for discussion starters for the end of school?
For the latest on three nationally ongoing censorship issues, check out:
Fond du Lac, WI
• 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
by Tom Gayda
Rights vs. responsibilities. Or, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. These are the phrases to keep in mind when living in a social media world.
Putting the First Amendment in action is our right, but with that right is the need to be responsible. There are many things a person can say, but sometimes those things aren’t always smart.
Even adults have to be careful. I may not agree with a decision made professionally, but to call out my boss or colleague and question his or her integrity might not be wise. My job doesn’t owe me my First Amendment rights the way sitting on my back porch talking to a friend does. Sure, I can say what I want, but if I want employment I might want to be careful. My boss probably isn’t as interested in my right to free speech when it knocks him or his company.
A student encounters similar situations. Perhaps not even that bad. Say a math student gets a poor grade on a test. Math student takes to Twitter and says the math teacher doesn’t know how to teach. Not really the worst thing a kid could say but if the math teacher hears about the comment, extra credit opportunities might dry up pretty fast. If the same math student calls the teacher a more colorful name the punishment might just be a little harsher.
Not that long ago we actually lived in a world where a lot of things we were thinking were left unsaid, but now the majority of us our gridded up we can’t go too many minutes without sharing something with someone.
The best thing to do is think first. Does your comment add something to life? Is it necessary someone see what you are thinking? Sometimes it might be wiser to act responsibly and keep a comment or two private.
Everyone is working their way through how to speak their mind and be responsible. And while we are lucky to have the First Amendment to protect us, it is important to keep in mind that our words matter whether they are protected or not.