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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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Forum status of student media: Quick Tip1

Posted by on Aug 22, 2017 in Blog, Legal issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism | 0 comments



If you’re developing a new policy, the Scholastic Press Rights Committee recommends using language something like this:

[Name of publication] is a designated public forum for student expression. Student editors make all content decisions without prior review from school officials. 

Key points/action: In the post-Hazelwood world, it is more important than ever for student journalists and their advisers to know what policies their school has adopted relating to student publications or student expression.

Quick Tips are small tidbits of information designed to address specific legal or ethical concerns advisers and media staffs may have or have raised. These include a possible guideline, stance, rationale and resources for more information. This  is the first in the series. 

The language of those policies (whether they give editorial control to students or keep it in the hands of school officials) and the amount of freedom that students have traditionally operated under at the school can determine whether Hazelwood or Tinker sets the standard for what school officials will be allowed to censor.

A designated public forum is created when school officials have “by policy or by practice” opened a publication for use by students to engage in their own free expression.

Often the most important question in that analysis is which of two First Amendment standards they have to meet.

  • The Tinker standard (as defined by the case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969)), which says schools can censor only if their actions are necessary to avoid a material and substantial disruption of school activities or an invasion of the rights of others. This language may sound vague, but as the courts have interpreted it, the Tinker standard is a very difficult one for school officials to meet and typically requires them to show evidence of physical disruption before their censorship will be allowed.
  • The Hazelwood standard (as defined by the case Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988)), which says schools can censor if their actions are reasonably related to legitimate educational concerns. Although this standard requires school officials to justify every act of censorship as educationally sound, it is a standard that gives school officials more extensive authority to silence or punish student expression.

Stance: Of the three types of forums, open public, limited public and closed, JEA strongly endorses the designated (open) public forum concept.

In the Hazelwood case, the Court said it believed both the policy and practice at Hazelwood East High School reflected school officials’ intent to exercise complete control over the student newspaper’s content. That finding prompted the Court to say a designated public forum did not exist.

Student publications at other schools with different policies and different practices relating to editorial control can be public forums. Where student editors have been given final authority over content decisions in their publications or where a school policy explicitly describes a student publication as a designated public forum, the Tinker standard will still apply.

Reasoning/suggestions: If you’re developing a new policy, the Scholastic Press Rights Committee recommends using language something like this:

[Name of publication] is a designated public forum for student expression. Student editors make all content decisions without prior review from school officials. 

Two things are important about the phrasing of this policy statement. First is the use of the words “designated public forum” as opposed to “limited public forum” or other similar language. Although many once believed the two phrases were interchangeable, some recent court decisions have suggested that using the word “limited” opens the door to school censorship as permitted under Hazelwood.

Second, using the phrase “student editors make all content decisions” is in many ways a clearer restatement of the meaning of “designated public forum.” It conveys the intent behind the public forum phrase anyone unfamiliar with the relevant Supreme Court rulings should understand.

To help schools understand what we consider public forums, please note these definitions:

  • Forums by policy: An official school policy exists that designates student editors as the ultimate authority regarding content. School officials actually practice this policy by exercising a “hands-off” role and empowering student editors to lead. Advisers teach and offer students advice, but they neither control nor make final decisions regarding content.
  • Forums by practice: A school policy may or may not exist regarding student media, but administrators have a “hands-off” approach and have empowered students to control content decisions. Advisers teach and offer students advice, but they neither control nor make final decisions regarding content.


When your publication is a public forum and when it is not, Mark Goodman, Knight chair in Scholastic Journalism

Choosing your forum status is like choosing the best medicine, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee



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Why protecting student free expression is important

Posted by on Sep 5, 2016 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

sprclogoStudents and advisers in states with recent freedom of expression legislation may want to inform their communities of educational rationale for the legislation. Additionally, those states working to pass such legislation might want to use the same points to gain support.

How free expression legislation provides value to:

  • Students who can more effectively

— Demonstrate learning, critical thinking and decision making by applying the principles of free expression legislation

–Pursue opportunities in all aspects of journalism not available previously

–Show that principles of civic engagement practiced through journalism can make a difference their communities

–Display leadership skills that will be useful throughout their lives

–Develop a meaningful and effective voices important to themselves and society

  • Advisers who can more effectively

–Help develop useful, effective and meaningful life-long learning skills in their students

–Train students to expand leadership and citizenship skills applicable to a changing society

–Express teaching concepts and issues that can empower students and enhance student experiences

— Activate enjoyable, meaningful and creative student-led learning experiences

–Build programs that continue to show the benefits of free and journalistically responsible student media

  • Administrators who can more effectively

–Empower student journalists to take responsibility for all facets of their student media, practicing what they are taught

–Model journalism programs where standards guide student efforts

–Create an atmosphere where all groups learn and growth from each other

–Expand the vision of all involved in the community mission of civic engagement and social responsibility

–Enxourage student leadership who take advantage of the forum created by their media to improve school and community

  • Communities who can more effectively

–Receive information that is accurate, thorough and represents diverse insights

–Collaborate with diverse age groups with diverse backgrounds in the learning process

–Experience the impact of student and citizen free expression

–Benefit from the benefits of creative and enlightened student leadership

–Contribute support so free and journalistically responsible student expression expands


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JEA endorses legislation
for New Voices in 8 states

Posted by on Apr 19, 2016 in Blog, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

The Journalism Education Association, at its spring convention in Los Angeles, endorsed eight states’ efforts to pass legislation ensuring protection for student expression.

The states are:

“JEA is spot-on to endorse these states’ efforts to pass New Voices legislation,” JEA president Mark Newton said. “Student voice is absolutely essential in all aspects of education. And, it is absolutely essential to participating in a democracy. It is a civic duty to empower — and defend — each freedom in the First Amendment. I am glad to see so many states see the plethora of values of responsible student freedom of expression.”

The eight are part of the New Voices movement, a project of the Student Press Law Center.

According to its website, New Voices hopes such legislation “will restore the Tinker standard of student expression in America’s high schools. That standard protects student speech unless it is libelous, an invasion of privacy or creates a ‘clear and present danger’ of a ‘material and substantial disruption’ of the school.”

When we teach responsible expression to students, and empower them to use it without fear of review or restraint, we will see positive benefits for decades and decades. It’s not only an educational sound best practice, but a civic one as well. – JEA President Mark Newton

States already having state protection for student expression are:

  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Colorado
  • Arkansas
  • Kansas
  • North Dakota
  • Iowa
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania Code
  • Washington Code

“When we teach responsible expression to students, and empower them to use it without fear of review or restraint,” Newton said,  “we will see positive benefits for decades and decades. It’s not only an educational sound best practice, but a civic one as well.”

JEA is the largest scholastic journalism organization for teachers and advisers, educating teachers how to educate students. Among its programs and outreach, JEA provides training around the country at national conventions and institutes, offers national certification for teaching high school journalism and monitor and actively defend First Amendment and scholastic press rights issues across the country.

New Voices USA is a student-powered grassroots movement to give young people the legally protected right to gather information and share ideas about issues of public concern. New Voices works with advocates in law, education, journalism and civics to make schools and colleges more welcoming places for student voices.

JEA and the SPLC encourage other states to press for similar legislation, and would also endorse legislation that would do so.

Students and advisers interested for more information can contact the SPLC  at 202-785-5450 or JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee.

For more information about starting state legislation, check this SPLC resource, this resource and this JEA resource.

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Issues worth building lessons around

Posted by on Dec 10, 2014 in Blog, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Uncategorized, Visual Reporting | 0 comments

sprclogoAs we head into a break for the holidays, three issues and concepts stand out as worth some future  consideration.

• The First Amendment: In the land of the free, why are schools afraid of freedom by Charles Haynes.
Written by this First Amendment advocate following the JEA/NSPA Washington, DC, convention, the column challenges us all to question administrator misuse of First Amendment. The article cites instances of prior review to limit discussion of ideas and groups and the elimination of some groups from school student media coverage while permitting others. The last time I checked, ordering blanket silence on some groups served no educational value or pedagogy. Haynes likened this process as a fear of freedom and questioned such philosophy as a misplaced attempt to either make schools safe. He also urged all journalism programs in schools subject to prior review – or restraint – to build a campaign to end it. You certainly would have a legion of supporters.

• The epic Rolling Stone gang-rape fallout – and how major publications get it wrong. This is only one of many resources on this coverage that violated one of journalism’s basic principles: verify your information and ensure your sources are credible. Citing the premonition “something just doesn’t feel right” about a story, author Terrence McCoy leads with the story of Richard Bradley feeling the gang rape reported in Rolling Stone did not happen. Bradley, it seems, had some experience with this kind of thing before. He once edited Stephen Glass, McCoy wrote.

In a rush to get a seemingly wonderful story into print, journalists will not verify a story or have the right sources. Because such incidents happen more than we would like to admit, we must stress scholastic reporters like others have to go beyond pre-existing bias or view and learn to apply skills of skeptical knowing or crap-detecting or just plan digging to every story, every day and across every platform. It’s an ongoing lesson never to be dropped from our curricula or from our practices.

• A toolkit by the solutions journalism network and Pulitzer Center. This material caught my eye because it focuses on something we do not do enough of: Perspective reporting and identifying sources who strive for solutions. Historians have long said those who don’t learn about an issue or concept as destined to repeat it. Is it because journalists don’t do enough follow-up reporting, add enough perspective and address solutions? This particular piece might be just the right tool at the right time to help us not only report but to keep solutions or alternatives in the public’s eye. It’s certainly worth our time to investigate the concept and give its points a shakedown cruise. Even if our students do not deal with international issues, the principles and concepts presented are worth localization. Introducing at the scholastic level just might help students, whether they become commercial journalists or not, begin to know we need to think in terms of solutions as much as issues identification.

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