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Changing not so great expectations

Posted by on Nov 22, 2015 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

sprclogoby John Bowen

People shouldn’t be surprised at what happened at University of Missouri recently involving student media trying to do their jobs and groups disagreeing with what their role is.

After all, they have seen it in their secondary schools since at least 1988.

They have only to look at the impact of various Supreme Court decisions starting with Hazelwood as a contributing cause of the problem.

Hazelwood and other decisions gave schools the ability to control student expression, to limit what questions were asked, what stories were told and whether they were told thoroughly. It is possible this contributes to access issues, too.

In some cases, students, teachers, administrators and community members have known nothing  but a limited, controlled and incomplete student media. Perhaps an expectation of thorough and accurate reporting starting in high school could help improve the access issue.

If these groups do not support and advocate for free expression and journalistically responsible student media, they set the stage for later misunderstanding of media roles and obligations in a democracy.

Like actions at the University of Missouri.

It should not be surprising then that both a mass communication faculty member and a university administrator sought to control the media’s role and access during an incident when protesters wanted to bar media from a public event.

They may have known no better because of what many high school environments allow to become the expected role of journalism: lapdogs that do not challenge authority, do not seek a complete story and do not carry out their role in a democratic society.

They may have known no better because of what many high school environments allow to become the expected role of journalism: lapdogs that do not challenge authority, do not seek a complete story and do not carry out their role in a democratic society.

We all can learn from the events at the University of Missouri. It could happen again, elsewhere,  if we don’t.

We can:
• As teachers, ensure our students have access to information and principles that show the importance of free expression in student media.
• As teachers and students, apply the principles of the First Amendment to student media, in policy and practice.
• As teachers, students, administrators and community members, we can demand our states pass legislation that would guarantee student free expression, like North Dakota that just passed New Voices Act and 20-some states looking at similar legislation.
• As citizens in a democracy, we can inform ourselves about the role of media in a democracy and empower students to fulfill it in socially responsible ways.

We can, and should, in part because of the misinformed reaction to student media at the University of Missouri, act as the Student Press Law Center and the Journalism Education Association both agree: Cure Hazelwood.


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Honor – and elevate – all programs
during Scholastic Journalism Week

Posted by on Feb 18, 2015 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Hazelwood, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by John Bowen
With Scholastic Journalism Week starting Feb. 22, it would serve us well to note SPLC executive Frank LoMonte’s words in this week’s Education Week.

LoMonte covers a number of points he suggests disrespect and trivialize high school journalism: mistreating female scholastic journalists, establishing the lowest, barely legal level of freedom for scholastic media and undermining the news-literacy obligation of a high school education.

As we rightfully celebrate our strengths in scholastic journalism next week, we should also heed LoMonte’s points so we help others reach the levels of scholastic journalism programs we honor.

Check out a story here about such a situation where the principal  is quoted as saying, “The school paper here at school is mine to control.”

Examine LoMonte’s thoughts, compare with the comments of the principal, and commit ourselves to elevate all journalism programs as they strive to reach the uncensored educational quality of the ones we honor most.

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19 journalism groups urge
administrator organizations to disavow
Neshaminy board punishment of paper, adviser and editor

Posted by on Oct 13, 2014 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Hazelwood, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

sprclogoOct. 13, 1987 marked the U.S. Supreme Court’s hearing the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier arguments that ultimately granted administrators the right to control content of high school media in limited situations.

Oct. 13, 2014 marks a time when 19 journalism organizations joined together to urge national groups of administrators and school boards to openly disavow actions of the Neshaminy (Pa.) Board of Education that even went beyond the constraints of Hazelwood in controlling content and punishing student journalists.

“In what we hope will be a watershed event in curing America of the worst excesses of the Hazelwood era,” SPLC executive director Frank LoMonte wrote to the Advisory Committee of the SPLC,  “19 of the nation’s leading journalism organizations — including SPJ, JEA, CMA and the American Society of News Editors — co-signed an SPLC-authored letter distributed today to the nation’s leading school-administrator organizations, urging them to distance themselves from and to publicly disavow the retaliatory behavior of school administrators in Neshaminy, Pa., who are punishing student journalists for refusing to use the offensive name of the schools’ mascot.”

The joint statement can be read here.

Part of the statement pointed directly to the Hazelwood decision’s involvement: “This is a level of authority even beyond the outermost limit the Supreme Court recognized in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, to say nothing of the fact that Pennsylvania law repudiates the Hazelwood standard.”

JEA’a Press Rights Committee and the SPLC had paired on a statement earlier this month condemning Neshaminy board actions punishing the student paper, the adviser and editor.

JEA also commented on the joint statement.

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Where do trust and prior review meet?

Posted by on Oct 5, 2014 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Leading a scholastic media staff in the shadow of Hazelwood

sprclogoby Chris Waugaman, MJE
A lack of trust can destroy scholastic journalism. We have seen it in a number of recent cases.

The scenario involves a student publication and a disgruntled administration. The cause of this tension can come from a variety of places, but in the end what has been broken is trust.

After this point, the battle of what you can and cannot censor in prior review becomes the first battle in an all out war. Sometimes it is unavoidable. But if there is a way to stop this from happening it begins with trust.

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Welcome back – here’s a look
at what to expect in the coming weeks

Posted by on Aug 20, 2014 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

As we all head back to school, look for some new content in the next week:
• An article focusing who who owns scholastic media content and choices to establish best approach for students
• An article discussing points of questions involving yearbook ethics
• A first look at a Policy Package to will help staffs decide what they want as the best editorial policy, ethical guidelines and staff manual
• Continued access to our ongoing columns on journalism pedagogy, FOIA, broadcast legal and ethical issues, news literacy and more Making a Difference reporting
• Our annual Constitution Day lessons and activities

• In the meantime, check out these major points from the press rights commission:
Takedown demands guidelines
The Panic Button means of reporting censorship
Our Press Rights Minute
JEA’s position prior review
JEA’s existing model editorial policy and support
Online, photo and yearbook ethical statements
First Amendment Press Freedom Award application
A teacher’s kit for curing Hazelwood
Our Foundations series for scholastic journalism

Something you would like us to report? Let us know.

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