by Mark Goodman
Journalism education, at both the high school and college level, is facing some real challenges. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Eric Newton weighs in on many of them, including the importance of defending press freedom for students, in his new ebook, Searchlights and Sunglasses (www.searchlightsandsunglasses.org). This free book, available on the web or in several e-reader formats, includes a learning layer with suggested questions and activities designed specifically for the high school journalism classroom.
Check out my thoughts about some of the strengths of this ebook as a teaching tool on the Knight Foundation’s blog:
Although scholastic media maintain a strong presence across the nation, according in a new study their numbers lag in schools with large minority and poor populations.
Kent State University’s Center for Scholastic Journalism conducted the study, and its findings came from 1,023 public schools, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia, from a total sample of 4, 354 schools.
“Our study doesn’t really tell us how healthy high school journalism is, but it does confirm it’s there and in large numbers,” said Mark Goodman, Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism and one of the survey’s principal investigators.
The full report is available on the Center for Scholastic Journalism’s site.
Of schools surveyed, results showed 96 percent offer some opportunity for students to create content in a school-sponsored journalistic activity. Goodman said he hopes the telling results from this year’s Scholastic Journalism Census will prompt a periodic assessment of the state of scholastic media.
“We want this count to provide a baseline from which we can assess changes in student journalism over time,” he said.
Other report findings included:
• 54 percent of students in schools without any student media qualify for free or a reduced lunch price. In schools with student media offering, that number is 41 percent.
• Public high schools across the country publish more than 11,000 student newspapers, outnumbering daily and weekly U. S. newspapers by more than 3,000 publications.
• More schools have a student yearbook than any other forum of student media.
• More than 15,000 public high schools offer a journalism or publications class, and the majority of all student media activities are produced in relationship to a class.
• Only 33 percent of surveyed schools have any form of online student media, and only 8 percent publish materials strictly online.
• The average school with student media has 873 students and a 35 percent minority population. The average school without student media has 222 students with a 56 percent minority population.
Some of these findings should be of particular interest to JEA, said assistant professor Candace Perkins Bowen, director of the Center for Scholastic Journalism and another principal investigator. “With that many journalism classes in the nation, our organization should be able to offer curricular support. The right kind of solid classes connected to something like the Common Core Standards could help protect student media and allow it to thrive.”
However, the lack of journalism in smaller schools with higher poverty and minority populations creates a stumbling block.
“Students who might benefit most from having journalism in the curriculum appear least likely to have it offered in their schools,” said Piotr Bobkowski, University of Kansas assistant professor and the survey’s third principal investigator.
Goodman said he hopes JEA and other adviser groups can use this data to support journalism educators.
“Advisers play a crucial role in the success of scholastic media programs and the defense of student press freedom,” he said. “I hope that we all can work to end the roadblocks of high school journalism programs moving online”
To download the full report, visit the Center for Scholastic Journalism site.
Columbia Scholastic Press Association Executive Director Ed Sullivan graciously agreed to share his comments from a listserv discussion about the recent Sixth Circuit court decision that teachers have no Teacher speech rights on school curriculum.
You can find those comments on the CSJblog.
His comments parallel another listserv discussion by Fellows of a ASNE Reynolds 2010 Institute: How to best fight for First Amendment rights for our students when administrators don’t want to hear or support those arguments, and could even retaliate against teachers who make them. Like the teacher speech rights discussion, some advisers feel the fight is seemingly one teachers cannot win.
As the number of advisers dwindle who taught without the threat of Hazelwood, how can journalism organizations best help tomorrow’s teachers in the continuing and important fight to teach students the First Amendment is real – even though they might not be able to practice it.
As Mark Goodman, Kent State’s Knight chair for Scholastic Journalism, told the ASNE group, “We HAVE to teach students that censorship is wrong, morally, educationally and journalistically, even when it cannot be avoided or overcome. And we have to do it in such a way that we don’t make kids so cynical they think the entire idea of the First Amendment is a joke.”
We’d like to hear your ideas and perspectives, too.
There will be more said here in weeks to come.
When members of the Churchill County Education Association in Fallon, Nev. thought an article in the high school student newspaper made a teacher look bad, their reaction wasn’t very educationally sound: They wanted administrators to censor the publication.
Lauren MacLean’s article in The Flash covered a controversy over audition tapes for the state honor choir and parental concern with the music teacher who, they claim, was to have sent them. Mark Goodman, Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism at Kent State, who wrote about this in the Center for Scholastic Journalism blog, has seen the article and reports, “It is student journalism at its best: fact-based, not inflammatory, insightful, relevant. It simply gives readers the facts and lets them reach their own conclusions.”
Jerry Ceppos, dean of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada and former executive editor of the San Jose Mercury News, also expressed his concern. On the Web site for the Reno Gazette-Journal, Ceppos suggested the teachers’ union needed the colorful, two-story-tall banner now hanging in his school with the 45 words in the First Amendment sewn into it.
Luckily, no one censored anything. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, MacLean’s article was to run Friday. Its editorial concluded, “But in the little town of Fallon, a welcome spark of freedom now shines. Taking the more courageous and principled course, Mr. Lords (the principal) and Ms. Ross (the superintendent) — and young Lauren MacLean — did well.”
Should we be bothered that the superintendent told Ceppos both she and the principal read the article before publication? Maybe that’s material for another blog.
In a year of anniversaries, 2009 seems to be special. Twenty years ago this week, notes Mark Goodman, Knight Chair of Scholastic Journalism at Kent State University, Iowa became the first state to not only pass a law drafted specifically in response to Hazelwood, but also the first to draft one from scratch.
For the history and educational perspective, go here.