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Join us Aug. 31 to learn more about Constitution Day

Posted by on Aug 29, 2015 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

sprclogoNeed Constitution Day celebration ideas? Join us Aug. 31 at 7 CDT as we highlight several ways to celebrate.

Here’s where it will take place: http://bit.ly/1fX9OHd

Members of JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee will lead the session.  So far, we have Lori Keekley, Jeff Kocur, Chris Waugaman and John Bowen.

That’s 7 p.m. CDT, Aug. 31, at http://bit.ly/1fX9OHd.

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CJE test-takers need not fear
law & ethics questions

Posted by on May 7, 2015 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

“But the law and ethics questions worry me,” said a slightly frazzled journalism teacher as she slid into the last row of seats for one of the Denver convention’s Getting Certified sessions. She was going to take the test later that day in hopes of becoming a Certified Journalism Educator, and she knew she HAD to pass that part of the test.

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The rules of the journalistic road
start with law and ethics

Posted by on Apr 30, 2015 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

sprclogoby Stan Zoller, MJE
Once a week I find myself at the local police station.

It’s a routine I have gotten into as part of the coverage I do for my local blog. Every week I check the police reports to see what sort of dastardly things local residents have called the police for.

It runs the gamut from attempted break-ins to settling a dispute over wedding photos.

Yes, there may be eight million stories in the naked city, but they’re not all riveting.

What is riveting in its own way to me is the number of reports where the responding officer notes that the offender was “not aware of the ordinance.” Some of the ordinances are mundane – like the hours you can put your garbage out, while others stipulate what constitutes a dangerous dog

It’s the heavy-weight stuff that rocks suburbia.

However, it seems to be commonplace for some folks to go about their daily business seemingly oblivious to rules and laws that are there for their own protection.

Can you imagine teaching and advising a scholastic journalism program without putting the rules of the road first?

While students are infatuated and seemingly obsessed with online and social media, the essential fundamentals of journalism – including laws and ethics – need to, as “boring” as they may be, need to a dominant part of any education curriculum.

This isn’t breaking news; nor is it to open to debate.

Teaching press laws and ethics is a no-brainer. If you are stuck on how to teach it, you need to go no further than JEA.ORG where you’ll find curricula for a variety of topics including, to no surprise, Law and Ethics. There are extensive three- five- and nine week instructional plans. There’s no stone left unturned.

Where a debate may emerge, however, is not which module to use, but when.

I know some teachers who start their J class with it while others do it later in the first quarter, other teachers who wait until later in the first semester and yes, some who wait until second semester.

The reasons run the gamut. But let’s face it, laws and ethics just don’t have the sex appeal as doing a great spread in the yearbook, posting videos on a web site or sending out tweets.

I have always equated teaching press law and ethics to teaching, of all things, driver’s education. You don’t get behind the wheel until you know the rules of the road.

I know. Boring.

I’d rather have students know press law and ethics at the start of the year so they know the expectations of ethical reporting within the parameters of the law, than start installing the smoke alarm after the fire has started.

But I’d rather have students know press law and ethics at the start of the year so they know the expectations of ethical reporting within the parameters of the law, than start installing the smoke alarm after the fire has started.

The Scholastic Press Law Center and JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Commission offer a plethora of resources for educators and students to augment JEA’s curriculum. These include not only blogs, but Scholastic Press Rights minutes – one-minute audio tips about press law and ethics – but also sample policies, tips on public access and freedom of information to name a few.

Start your trip at JEASPRC.org and you’ll find the road will be a lot smoother.

And if you should find yourself in a bind, it won’t be because you “were not aware of the ordinance.”

 

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Contests can help promote
students making decisions

Posted by on Feb 2, 2015 in Blog | 2 comments

“You mean my students’ newspaper can’t win the top award? Just because I read their publication before it goes to press?” an irate principal asked when he called his state’s scholastic press association a few years ago. Well, not exactly, but in a way – yes.

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Be proud of each trip you take to publish student media

Posted by on Jan 14, 2014 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Stan Zoller
Several years ago I was having a conversation with my neighbor, also a teacher.  Our conversation covered the usual teacher stuff – students, administrators, curriculum, union contracts – and course loads.

It was while we discussing the classes we taught, he pronounced that “well, anyone can teach journalism.”

So much for good neighbors.

I asked him what his point of reference was and he, to no surprise, did not have a good answer, but seemed hint that “all we had to do” was put out the paper, which, I guess is like saying all drivers education teachers have to do is start the car.

Journalism teachers seem to be education’s misunderstood children.  It’s the destination – the newspaper, the yearbook, the broadcast or website by which we are judged.  That’s all we do.

What’s overlooked, as we all know, are the intricacies that go into student media.  Not the intricacies of InDesign or Photoshop – but the intricacies of journalism.  The laws, the ethics, the policies and the court decisions.

You know, “hey kids, go and report so we can produce the next edition, get the next sig done or post it.”  You know, we’re like Nike – we just do it.

Journalism educators are notoriously supportive of each other (well, for the most part) and of our craft.  We’re proud when the final product is published, produced or posted.

What we need to be proud of however, is not the destination – but the trip we took to get there.  My guess is most people – in education and out – do not have an idea of everything that goes into producing student media.  They see the photos, read the words, listen to the broadcast and say “nice job.”

What’s overlooked, as we all know, are the intricacies that go into student media.  Not the intricacies of InDesign or Photoshop – but the intricacies of journalism.  The laws, the ethics, the policies and the court decisions.

What separates journalism classes from the many other classes is what students need to know before they get “the keys to the car.”  Our students need to be exposed on a regular basis to court decisions that impact journalism, not just student journalism.

News consumers who read or watch student media should have the same expectations they do as if they were reading the Chicago Tribune, the Sacramento Bee, the Virginian-Pilot or the New York Times.

Unrealistic?  Maybe high school students don’t have Pulitzer Prize winning writing and reporting skills – but they need to have the same ethics and understanding of press law as any reporter.  Administrators need to understand that the student media is not an outlet for students to have fun in print, online or on air.  If journalism educators don’t keep the bar raised for their student journalists, then the door to prior review and prior restraint may swing open.

And before you know it, administrators may think that anyone can teach journalism.

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