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Student journalists are the real deal

Posted by on Nov 4, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

As editor Gillian McGoldrick and former editor Tanvi Kumar tell their stories to NPR co-host Audie Cornish, another former student who stood up for her right so speak — Mary Beth Tinker — tapes the presentation. (photo by John Bowen)

by Cyndi Hyatt
A few weeks back a student reporter asked a school administrator if she could cover a school-related banquet at a local country club, an event much touted and advertised.

Sure was the response, but she would have to buy a ticket.  

She was not expecting that response, nor was I.  After some adviser-led investigation and nudging, the reporter was granted access to the event and the story appeared in the latest issue of the newspaper.  

The student reporter was even approached by the district’s public relations people for photos to use on the district website and in press-releases.

But what got me thinking was the initial assumption about her – that a student reporter was not a “real” reporter.

And that is a gross misconception to say the least.

Would the response be the same if the local news van showed up to cover the story?  I doubt they would have had to dish out $100.00 for entrance to the event. I imagine the organizers would have welcomed the professional media, grateful for the coverage.  

And, as it turned out, the only coverage was from the school student-run newspaper.

Facing the challenge of having students recognized as legitimate, trained journalists will never go away, but this most recent incident had me thinking of three steps we take every year to help others recognize the credibility of our young journalists.

  1. Press passes for everyone.  Each year we have our photography editor take head shots of all staff.  A local printer makes us complementary color photos so all we pay for are the sleeves and the logo lanyards.  All passes are dated and signed by the advisers.
  2. Staff apparel.   Student reporters are identified further as journalists by the tee-shirt or fleece jacket they wear to events.  It’s a uniform approach, recognizable in school and community.
  3. Assertion.   In the case of a paid event, our students are encouraged to approach the organizers with a statement rather than a question.  “We would like to cover your event Saturday” is a lot stronger that “May we come to your event on Saturday?” A few adjustments in language can make a difference.

A solid student journalism program needs to command the respect it deserves.  Don’t settle for no when you are doing the community a service, telling others’ stories or spreading the news.

Look the part and be assertive. The results are worth it.

 

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Handout: Foundations of journalism: Policy, procedure, guideline

Posted by on Jul 8, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

sprclogoNames:____________________________________________________________________

Topic: _____________________________________________________________________

Part 1:

  1. Legal Considerations:

 

  1. Ethical Considerations:

 

  1. Terms to define (include definitions):

 

  1. Precedent(s) if applicable:

 

  1. Proposed wording:

 

Part 2:

  1. Look at the wording of the procedure or guideline. Highlight any red flag words or phrases. Circle any unclear information. Box any other problems.
  1. Is this a procedure or guideline? (circle)
  1. Why?

 

Part 3:

  1. Compare what you’ve written with a sample policy addressing the same topic. Write the policy name here:
  1. What is similar?

 

  1. What is different?

 

  1. What changes should be made? Rewrite as needed.

 

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Going online? Consider these points before you decide

Posted by on Sep 7, 2014 in Blog, Digital Media, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism | 0 comments

sprclogoby John Bowen
Scholastic journalism educators over the summer devoted a lot of time and discussion about whether print is dying and whether their programs should switch to digital first or digital only. Before advisers and students make a decision to move totally online, think about and discuss these points:

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A newsroom guide for handling online comments

Posted by on Apr 6, 2014 in Blog, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, Hazelwood, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Uncategorized | 0 comments

“The New York Times and The Washington Post have the two smartest teams of lawyers and editors in the world, and they’ve come to opposite conclusions. The Times is a review first/post later system and The Post is a post first/takedown later system. So there’s no industry standard or consensus.”  – Frank LoMonte, Student Press Law Center

• Basically, there are two approaches for moderation of online comments:
— Post first and then take comments down if they are inappropriate
— Moderate and only post those that meet criteria

A third option, of course, is to allow no comments at all, but that runs counter to media serving as a forum for public expression.

For the most part, the same principles apply to handling comments as with handling letters to the editor in print or guest commentary in broadcast or online, including verification of sources and information. Once the decision is made to publish user comments or responses, label them clearly, keeping in mind your journalistic credibility and commitment to accuracy.

• How to handle inappropriate comments  (*see model policy below)
Pulling down posted comments looks like censorship. And if you allow comments to be posted without moderating them first, you create the potential of incorrect and legally dangerous comments being captured/cached and available forever. Why publish something that jeopardizes your media’s ability to serve your community and then remove it after complaints or realizing it’s inappropriate?  It’s all about the policy you establish, the atmosphere you seek to create on your site and your ability and willingness to enforce your rules and standards.  Remember, if you edit comments and change the intent or meaning you are legally responsible for their content, according to Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act.

• Criteria for comments
Just as you need a policy for letters to the editor, you need a policy for determining when you will allow comments.  Consider: Staffs can be responsible for the content of comments posted by others on their sites despite some special legal protections that exist in the online arena.

Ideally, those making comments will use real, verifiable names and email addresses.  If they don’t, commenters could remain anonymous if the student editor knows their real names. Approving content ahead of time is not prior review because it is done by the student staff, not school officials. Anonymous comments should be taken down after a short time

Use of real names is an ethical issue. Knowing who a person is can give comments clarity, meaning and context, and add credibility. Because part of the impact of using comments is about creating community where all can participate and feel safe, knowing identities generates trust in the commenter and the comment. Search engines pick up comments as if they were content, so you have an obligation not to spread falsehood; information must be verified

• Be upfront and transparent about your policy and explain it thoroughly
Student media can establish a forum by setting ground rules of prior approval/rejection without changing content unless cleared with the author. Do not edit or revise comment content. Revisions should be made by the author.

Once posted, comments or information should not be removed for transparency, accuracy and reality in terms of establishing a historical record.

• Establish a procedure for handling comments
Appoint an online editor and staff to vet comments (which means training for that staff on how to handle comments). Online comments should be signed with verifiable addresses and IDs that are verifiable. Require real names or IDs known by student editors or identify who will verify the names and identification before publication

Study other media, including The New York Times, The Poynter Institute and The Washington Post, for guidelines as part of the process of setting up a policy. Decide what is permissible in comments ahead of time and clearly publicize the criteria. An example would be no personal attacks. Also publish a statement that a student “editor” will contact the poster for information, clarification, to have writer correct grammar, etc.

* A model policy section for handling comments might look like this, with content adapted from The Washington Post , The Poynter Institute and introductory wording modeled on The New York Times:

Model Comment Policy

We moderate comments to enable readers to share, without abusing others, informed and intelligent views that enhance the marketplace of ideas, focused to the topic of discussion not the presenter.

By posting comments:
1.We recommend use of real names for commenting. We will allow anonymous just like we allow anonymous sources provided we have verified the commenter’s identity.
2.You agree not to submit inappropriate content. Inappropriate content includes any content (as defined by the Student Press Law Center) that:
• Infringes upon or violates the copyrights, trademarks or other intellectual property rights of any person
• Is potentially libelous or defamatory
• Is obscene, pornographic, or sexually explicit
• Violates a person’s right to privacy
• Violates any local, state, national, or international law
• Contains or advocates illegal or violent acts
• Degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or other classification
• Is predatory, hateful, or intended to intimidate or harass
• Contains advertising or solicitation of any kind
• Misrepresents your identity or affiliation
• Impersonates others

3.You agree you are fully responsible for the content that you submit. You will promptly remove any content that you have posted should you discover that it violates these rules or that it is otherwise inappropriate.

See more for the complete package:
Takedown demands?
Evaluating legal demands
Evaluating ethical choices
Decision models
10 steps to a “Put Up” policy
Resources


 

 

 

 

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Tweet18: Develop, follow code of ethics

Posted by on Jan 29, 2013 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Develop a strong code of ethics, and follow it daily in planning all coverage. #25HZLWD http://jeasprc.org/tweet18-develop-follow-code-of-ethics

No matter which media platform you use, ethics will play a daily role in your decision making.

Rushworth Kidder in “How Good People Make Tough Choices” says ethics is a “right versus right” process.hazelwoodcolor

“Right versus wrong” situations are best decided by knowing and applying press law. The act of deciding involves a concept we will call ethical fitness. Ethical fitness removes the need for control because students practice critical thinking. At the same time, we do not permit anyone to punish students for making – or failing to make – decisions that are not right versus wrong instances.

When it is time to take action, students who are ethically fit, who have already done the thinking, are prepared to resolve issues they face.

From story selection to explaining why a decision was made not to name a source, ethical thinking is at the core of a successful scholastic journalism program.

Resources:
• NSPA Student Code of Ethics
http://www.studentpress.org/nspa/pdf/wheel_modelcodeofethics.pdf
• JEA Adviser Code of Ethics
http://jeasprc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/JEAadvisercodeof-ethics-2015.pdf
•  Press Rights Commission Online ethical guidelines for social media
http://jeasprc.org/online-ethics-guidelines-for-student-media/
• Press Rights Commission yearbook ethical guidelines
http://jeasprc.org/yearbook-ethics-guidelines/
• Visual reporting ethical guidelines
http://jeasprc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Visual-ethics2012.pdf
• Questions student staffs should discuss before entering the social media movement
http://www.jeasprc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Questionsstudentstaffsshoulddiscussbefore-enteringsocialmedia-environment.pdf
• Online ethics resources
http://www.jeasprc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Questionsstudentstaffsshoulddiscussbefore-enteringsocialmedia-environment.pdf
• Journalism ethics situations
http://jeasprc.org/constitution-day-learning-materials-part-2-journalism-ethics-hypotheticals/
• Social media toolbox available
http://jeasprc.org/social-media-toolbox-available-to-help-those-considering-and-using-social-media-in-journalism/
• So say we all
http://jeasprc.org/so-say-we-all-2/
• What values?
http://new.jmc.kent.edu/ethicsworkshop/2009/
• What are the ethics of online journalism?

 

 

 

 

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