Application of Libel Law by Lori Keekley Description Students will examine the tenets and defenses of libel while analyzing a recent court case. The lesson spans two days, but could be combined to fit into one day if needed. Students also will examine how the First Amendment plays a role libel law.
Objectives • Students will learn the basic tenets of libel law
• Students will learn the defenses to a libel claim.
• Students will apply both the tenets of libel and defenses to libel.
Common Core State Standards
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper). •CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning. • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1.a Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence. • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1.e Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.
Length 100 minutes (two 50-minute classes)
Materials / resources Article 1: Star Tribune article to be used for the first day of class Article 2: Star Tribune article to be used for the second day of class Article 3: Washington Post article, which is for background
SPLC libel info
Lesson step-by-step Day 1 1. Introduction — 5 minutes Situation: An author claimed he had a barfight with “Scruffy Face” in a recent book. He later identified the other participant. The “Scruffy” said this alleged fight harmed his reputation. Who do you think would win in a libel suit? 2. Review — 10 minute Using the SPLC libel information, please have students describe the following terms:
–The four parts of libel according to the Student Press Law Center?
(Publication, Identification, Harm, Fault)
–What are the defenses to a libel claim?
(Consent, Truth, Privilege, Opinion versus Fact)
3. Read article 1 — 10 minutes While reading the article, ask students to underline the areas they think might be applicable for the prosecution. Ask them to box what would be helpful for the defense. Students should be able to explain their reasoning. Also, ask students to revisit what they decided from the introductory assignment, which opened the class.
4. Debate preparation — 10 minutes Split the class in half. Assign half to be the prosecution and the other half the defense. They should formulate arguments for their side.
Students should also look at how the First Amendment might apply in this scenario.
5. Debate — 20 minutes Ask students to debate the case. They should cite the parts of libel law, defensed to libel law and information from the case.
Day 2 1. Introduction — 5 minutes As students enter, please ask them to write down as many parts of libel law and defenses to libel they can. After a few minutes have passed, ask students to get their notes and add what was missed in a different pen color.
2. Debate recap — 10 minutes Ask students from the prosecution to reiterate their main points. Make sure they include the terminology they reviewed. After five minutes, switch and ask the defense to do the same. Ask the class to vote on which side they think should win.
3. Read article 2 — 10 minutes While reading the article, ask students to underline the areas they were surprised about. Students should be able to explain their reasoning. Also, ask students to revisit what they noted at the beginning of class.
4. Read article 3 — 10 minutes Again, ask students to underline any new information.
5. Small group discussion — 5 minutes Ask students to share what they noted while reading.
6. Large group discussion — 5 minutes Have each group report at least three comments they discussed. Comments may not be repeated from group to group.
6. Exit slip assessment — 5 minutes Ask students to write down as many part of libel law and defenses to libel they can. (No notes, just memory on this.)
Differentiation If students already are proficient in understanding libel law, this lesson could be condensed to one day.
Beginning students might need more time for understanding libel law — especially if it wasn’t already discussed.
How much information is enough for a story?
by John Bowen Description Students will explore the following questions: What makes a good headline? What makes a good infographic? What makes a good multimedia package? Is the practice of “All you need to know about X” bad for journalism? In working on those questions, students will also work on formulating corrections for weak practices. They will also work toward forming defenses of stronger processes and policies. One way or another, students will decide the kind of policy they would develop to create an effective and credible news practice. This could involve guidelines or policy for the staff manual.
Objectives • Students will read and be able to critique an article about coverage cliches
• Students will examine the role coverage cliches play in the media
• Students will draft a policy or guidelines about using this type coverage in their media
Common Core State Standards
• CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem •CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others
Lesson step-by-step Day 1 1. Background — 15 minutes Have students read the article,The absolute worst cliché online today. Ask students to either highlight or underline important aspects of the article.
2. Pair work — 10 minutes Students should prepare a 25-word statement of belief about the points the author makes. If they are not familiar with the practices noted, have them use Internet access to see examples.
3. Work with article concepts — 25 minutes Once students have read the article and completed their statement, have students find three examples online of the process the author talks about, two in news coverage and one in something else. Students should be ready to discuss the newsvalue, cohesiveness and credibility of the information in these pieces.
1. Link to the last class – 5 minutes
2. Small group discussion – 20 minutes
Divide the class into groups of five to discuss the Washington Post article and the examples they found. Write down their discussion using this handout.
Questions they might address include:
• Do headlines like the ones in your articles catch reader attention, provide enough information or set the stage for misinformation? Or, something else?
• How do you react to the examples you found? Did they present complete and cohesive information so readers have enough of the story to take action or feel they are informed?
• Who or what were the sources of the information? Was the information presented objectively, or did that matter? Could you verify the information presented, and through reliable sources?
• Discuss what you found in relation to the author of “All you need”s points. Do you agree, disagree? Does the author support her points?
• Do you feel the examples – and the author’s point – indicates a bad journalistic practice? Why or why not? If a good practice, how would you defend it? Be specific.
3. Policy drafting and poster creation – 25 minutes
Once the groups have discussed these questions, have each group work as a team to prepare a policy or guideline for your staff manual on the practice of “All you need to know” headlines and approaches. Once the team is finished, have them create a poster of visual means of expressing their position to share with the rest of the class.
1. Presentation and assessment – 50 minutes Students should share their poster and team statements. Students should try to reach an agreement for a working position usable for the staff manual.
Differentiation Use this section to provide teachers changes to the lesson plan to accommodate students at different skill levels or in different learning environments. If this involves different materials or resources, list those in the Materials/Resources section.
Censorship Case Study by Jeff Kocur Description A case study on the Fond du Lac High School Cardinal Column’s censorship by administration after the publishing of an article on a rape culture at the school. The study involves censorship of Fond du Lac High School’s by administration after the publishing of an article on a rape culture at the school. Students examine the application of the First Amendment to high school students and evaluate and hypothesize what they might do if faced with a similar situation.
Objectives • Students will examine the application of the First Amendment to high school students
• Students will discuss the censorship of a high school publication.
• Students will evaluate and hypothesize what they would do if they were in a similar situation.
Common Core State Standards
•Informational text; Integration of knowledge and ideas Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem. • Informational text; Integration of knowledge and ideas Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principlesand use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses).
Lesson step-by-step Day One: 1. Background — 3 minutes Teacher should either talk through or project the following: Summation of issue: Students at the Cardinal Columns, the student run newspaper at Fond Du Lac High School in Fond Du Lac, Wisc., were compelled to write a piece in the February issue about a rape culture at their school. The Editor-in-Chief, Tanvi Kumar told the Student Press Law Center the following.
“We are so saturated in a society that tolerates and even condones objectification of women and sexualizes them to be less than human beings,” Kumar said. “I think a lot of that … contributes to rape jokes and rape culture, and it’s not something that I could see going under the radar anymore.”
After the article was published, the principal, Jon Wiltzius, enacted a school board policy on the books, but not in practice, that would require the students to submit their paper to him prior to publication. He censored a photo on the cover of the next issue that was critical of the new policy.
2. Opening question — 2 minutes Ask the students “What if this happened at your school?” Teacher note: A healthy, mutual understanding of the First Amendment between your staff and your administrator would likely make this a non-issue, but not all schools are that lucky. You may want to share the First Amendment with the students as well.
3. Reading the article — 25 minutes Teacher should pass out the article. Students should read the coverage in its entirety.
4. Pair work — 15 minutes Teacher should pass out “Handout 1.” Students could work on the sheet in pairs.
5. Homework If students have not finished the handout, ask them to do it for homework.
1. Recap — 5 minutes Ask students to “remind you” of what they read about the day before.
2. Large group discussion — 15 minutes Teacher should ask each group to report their answers. Teacher should facilitate the discussion.
3. Small group work — 15 minutes Ask each pair to partner with another pair. Pass out “Handout 2.” Students should answer the questions from the sheet.
4. Large group discussion — 15 minutes Again, teacher should ask each group to report their answers. Teacher should facilitate the discussion.
Differentiation If students would like more information on the Fond du Lac censorship, they should access the articles listed in the resources section.
Part 1 of a 2-part blog on teacher plagiarism and copyright issues
Teachers can be the world’s worst thieves without ever meaning to be.
We’ve all done it — sometimes out of panicked need, sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes because we think our classroom is some sort of copyright-free zone.
So just what CAN teachers use that others have created? Just what is fair use in the classroom? What may be legal but not exactly ethical for us to use? This is the first of a two-part series concerning OUR use of others’ creative work.
by Jane Blystone
Ally O’ Reilly wanted her capstone journalism project for the year to make a difference. She knew that the national issue of gay rights needed localization in her school publication, Pine Whispers. Her adviser, Stephen Hanf, at R. J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was impressed that a freshman would take on such a challenge.
I love this story because one of my freshmen in Intro to Journalism came up with it and developed it on her own for an end-of-year project. She could have tackled a fluffy feel-good story, but instead tied in this story to the recent Supreme Court cases. It was so well written, timely and full of impact for this under-covered demographic that I had no choice but to publish it in our print paper — something normally reserved for upperclassmen taking newspaper class. It got people talking about an issue that impacts a lot of high school students.”
O’Reilly covered the struggle for students in her school to get an LGBTQ group going. She also interviewed a bisexual student and another student who has shared his life with his brother and two fathers as well as a senior writer might do.