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Five ways we can help you

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Lori Keekley
May 1, Loyalty Day. Too-many-days-left-to-count-down-the-end-of-the-school-year day …

No matter what it is, here are five ways JEA’s SPRC can help you (and your students) now.
1. We’re here for you. Whether it’s to study for an upcoming CJE or MJE exam or to help research in a case of censorship, we work to help you and your students.
2. We’re here for your students. If they (or you) find you are in a situation of need, please hit the Panic Button. Someone will answer your request within 24 hours. (It’s usually as soon as we see the email.)
3. Planning for next year? The Foundations Package is a great place to start. This resource helps by providing some starting points for creating a staff manual that includes a media- or board-level policy, ethical guidelines and procedures.
4. It’s never too early to start thinking about Constitution Day. We will release new materials Aug. 20 to help you celebrate this federally mandated event.
5. We will continue to support the First Amendment and its application in schools through our support of New Voices campaigns, First Amendment Press Freedom Award and the passage for board statements.

Please let us know if you need something or think of another way we can help you. We are happy to help

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In case you missed something we’ve done …

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

In case you might have missed some of our key projects and materials, here is a quick and easy way to locate them. Materials range from access to the Panic Button to passing free expression legislation in your state.

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Try P-R-O active measures
to avoid charges of ‘questionable’ reporting

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Stan Zoller
In his 1935 classic, “It Can’t Happen Here,” the late Sinclair Lewis wrote about a small-town newspaper editor, who, struggles with the efforts of a fascist leader’s administration censor his paper and ends up in a concentration camp. After escaping from the camp, he ends up in Canada, before leading a resistance movement in the United States.

And you thought your principal was annoying.

Like the thought that the United States would never have a fascist dictator, scholastic journalism educators should not be naïve that because their principal is a wonderful person or they’ve been teaching for decades, that it “can’t happen here.”

It can. It has. It will.

That’s just the nature of the beast.

No matter how many awards your students have won, honors you have received, as many advisers have found out, a change in administrators, a “questionable” story, or even the arrival of new adviser with limited experience can foster changes that lead to prior review and prior restraint.

There a plethora of resources for advisers who suddenly find their program facing prior review. Among the best (obviously) are those at JEASPRC.ORG, including the ‘Panic Button’ that gives you support from the Scholastic Press Rights Commission and the Student Press Law Center.

But is there a way to avoid prior review? Maybe. Obviously, there are administrators and even journalism educators who have their own agendas, so no whatever you try to do will not make a difference.

You can, however, take some steps that may counter concerns of district or building administrators.

The first, quite obviously, is to practice solid and fundamental journalism. Obviously.

Make sure your students (and we’re not talking rocket science here) have multiple sources who are accountable. Make sure all information is verifiable and that sources, no matter if they are experts in a specific area, teachers, staff or community leaders, are free of bias. Make sure your reporting is transparent and that you explain who your sources are or what organization or person is behind a specific web site. If your students tried to contact someone who did not return phone calls or email requests for interviews, make sure that is indicated in an article.

Make sure your students (and we’re not talking rocket science here) have multiple sources who are accountable. Make sure all information is verifiable and that sources, no matter if they are experts in a specific area, teachers, staff or community leaders, are free of bias. Make sure your reporting is transparent and that you explain who your sources are or what organization or person is behind a specific web site. If your students tried to contact someone who did not return phone calls or email requests for interviews, make sure that is indicated in an article.

Again, this isn’t rocket science, but simple steps that could fall through the cracks, especially if a student does not meet all prescribed deadlines.

Another way to hopefully avoid the pain of prior review is to practice protocol. Randy Swikle, the godfather of protocol, put together an outstanding guide for stakeholders of student media. “Protocol for Free and Responsible Student News Media” was an offshoot of a conference by the same name in 2010. The book is available as a .PDF at Protocol for Free and Responsible Student News Media.

You’ll find that at the root of effective protocol is regular communication between your student media and the other stakeholders in your district and building. Don’t wait until there’s a “controversial story” that may appear in your media. Administrators don’t like surprises. Like any news consumer, administrators expect quality journalism with stories that are verifiable, independent and accountable.

The challenge is when there’s a story they “don’t like” because, as someone once told me, journalism is reporting about something that people don’t want people to know. It’s disturbing to hear more advisers say their principal expects student media to be a “PR piece” for the school, or worse, for the principal’s or superintendent’s personal agenda.

The key? Try Protocol…and remember the first three letters – P-R-O – as in proactive.

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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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Why we keep harping about prior review

Posted by on Oct 8, 2013 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Uncategorized | 0 comments

by Kathy Schrier
At the conclusion of our summer student journalism workshop here in Washington state, we asked for student feedback and one student wrote: “We spent too much time hearing about prior review…”

I have to concede that this year’s summer workshop was, in fact, heavy on talk of the dangers posed by administrative prior review. It was inevitable. Workshop presenters included four members of the SPRC (Carrie Faust, Vince DeMiero, Fern Valentine and me); and special guest presenters included Mike Hiestand, consulting attorney for the Student Press Law Center (SPLC), and Brian Schraum, former SPLC Publications Fellow.

The student’s question was valid, causing me to pause and wonder if, in our deep concern for this issue, we don’t sometimes cross the line into overkill territory. If a student attends one of our workshops to learn more about how to use fonts effectively, should we force that student to worry about prior review?

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