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Prior review v. prior restraint: Quick Tip2

Posted by on Aug 24, 2017 in Blog, Legal issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

In brief, the Journalism Education Association has found prior review has no educational value. Instead, JEA believes it is simply the first step toward censorship and fake news. Prior review also contributes to self-censorship and lack of trust between students, advisers and administrators. Prior review conflicts with JEA’s adviser code of ethics.

Prior review occurs when anyone not on the publication/media staff requires that he or she be allowed to read, view or approve student material before distribution, airing or publication.

Prior restraint occurs when someone not on the publication/media staff requires pre-distribution changes to or removal of student media content.

Prior review itself is a form of prior restraint. It inevitably leads the reviewer to censor and student journalists to self-censor in an effort to assure approval.

An officially designated adviser, when working with students and offering suggestions for improvement as part of the coaching and learning process, who reads or views student media before publication is not engaged in prior review.

 

Possible Guideline: Prior review and restraint

Question: What does prior review mean and how is it different from prior restraint?

Key points/action: In brief, the Journalism Education Association has found prior review has no educational value. Instead, JEA believes it is simply the first step toward censorship and fake news. Prior review also contributes to self-censorship and lack of trust between students, advisers and administrators. Prior review conflicts with JEA’s adviser code of ethics.

Stance: JEA would define prior review and restraint as follows:
• Prior review occurs when anyone not on the publication/media staff requires that he or she be allowed to read, view or approve student material before distribution, airing or publication.

Quick Tips are small tidbits of information designed to address specific legal or ethical concerns advisers and media staffs may have or have raised. These include a possible guideline, stance, rationale and resources for more information. This  is the second in the series

  • Prior restraint occurs when someone not on the publication/media staff requires pre-distribution changes to or removal of student media content.
  • Prior review itself is a form of prior restraint. It inevitably leads the reviewer to censor and student journalists to self-censor in an effort to assure approval.
  • An officially designated adviser, when working with students and offering suggestions for improvement as part of the coaching and learning process, who reads or views student media before publication is not engaged in prior review.

When an adviser requires pre-distribution changes over the objections of student editors, his/her actions then become prior restraint

Reasoning/suggestions: Students learn more when they make all publication choices. Prior review and restraint do not teach students to produce higher quality journalism.

The only way to teach students to take responsibility for their decisions is to give them the responsibility to make those decisions freely. No administrator has ever shown any educational value in prior review.

Continued democracy depends on students understanding all voices have a right to be heard and assuring all viewpoints have a say in their communities.

ResourcesQuestions advisers should ask those who want to implement prior review, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee

Prior Review, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee

SPRC Talking points blog

SPRC Talking points

Definitions of prior review, prior restraint

Lesson: Understanding the perils of prior review and restraint

Why we keep harping about prior review

Related: These points and other decisions about mission statement, forum status and editorial policy should be part of a Foundations Package  that protects journalistically responsible student expression.

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How do we assist teachers about
understanding the First Amendment?

Posted by on Feb 12, 2017 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

The Knight Foundation’s recently released 2016 study of student and teacher beliefs, Future of the First Amendment, reported teacher responses that raise First Amendment concerns.

Teacher results showed:
• When asked if  high school students should be allowed to report on controversial issues in their student newspapers without the approval of school authorities, 66 percent of students strongly or mildly agreed. Teachers had a 61 percent disapproval rate.
• When asked whether students should be allowed to express their opinions about teachers and school administrators on Facebook or other social media without worrying about being punished by teachers or school administrators for what they say, 33 percent of teachers strongly or mildly agreed while 54 percent of students did.
• When asked whether schools should be allowed to discipline students who post material on social media outside of school that school officials say is offensive, 28 percent of students strongly or mildly agree while 52 percent of  teachers did.

To get a better idea of how journalism education organizations can react to these findings, we would appreciate your thoughts:

• How can journalism teachers reach out to their peers who don’t understand journalistic freedoms or the importance of those freedoms?
• How can journalism teachers reach out to their non-journalism peers  who don’t support journalistic freedoms for scholastic media about the importance of those freedoms?
• What types of materials should JEA develop to assist these teachers?
• How can journalism teachers and media advisers support other journalism teachers who face prior review and restraint of student media (especially those who do not or cannot attend JEA conventions)?
• How can journalism teachers and media advisers support other journalism  teachers who don’t support freedom of expression for scholastic media  (especially those who do not or cannot attend JEA conventions)?
• What additional resources or materials should JEA develop to support journalism and non-journalism teachers  (especially those who do not or cannot attend JEA conventions)?
• Other comments or suggestions?

Please use the comment section below or contact SPRC current director John Bowen or committee member Lori Keekley with your thoughts.

The Knight Foundation survey, compiled by Kenneth Dautrich of the Stats Group, polled 11,998 high students and 726 teachers. It is the sixth Knight FoundationFuture of the First Amendment since 2004. Past results can be found here.

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Questions for thought #3 continuing a series

Posted by on Sep 14, 2011 in Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Here’s a question in our series raising a variety of Questions for Thought. Hopefully, as you consider answers, you and your students will address some important principles of scholastic journalism. Our Constitution Day lessons can now be accessed from the menu bar above, titled Constitution Day 2011.

#3: What would happen if press freedoms would be restrained just once? Take one incident and extend the repercussions into the future. For example, what would happen if the school board refused just once to allow reporting of a controversial issue?

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Follow the latest article in Puyallup censorship

Posted by on May 24, 2010 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

For an interesting and detailed article about the latest information in the ongoing battle against administrative censorship, check out today’s article in the News Tribune.

Be sure to read the comments. Students who need end-of-the-year activities might find this an issue worth comment.

One of the story’s points deals with the district’s attitude toward prior review as a way of protecting itself.

(Superintendent Tony) “Apostle, the Puyallup superintendent, declined to speak to The News Tribune. He did provide a copy of a letter he sent to students, saying the School Board does not intend to rescind its prior review rule. He said district lawyers have urged the board to retain the rule unless students and their parents agree to be financially liable for future legal claims,” the story reported.

The story also indicated student journalist attempts to report on the trial were themselves censored.

“Student journalist Allie Rickard withdrew her article after a district lawyer wanted to remove a direct quote and insert a sanitized version,” the News tribune reported. “The lawyer, Mike Patterson, also told Rickard that she could not include the names of the four student plaintiffs – even though they are part of the public record and had been published elsewhere, including in The News Tribune.

“Lawyers also asked Rickard to eliminate a sentence that explained a controversial legal concept in the trial.”

A school spokesman said the changes were not to censor but correct.

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Guidelines, recommendations for advisers facing prior review

Posted by on May 9, 2010 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

At the spring Portland JEA/NSPA convention, JEA’s board passed a definition of prior review and prior restraint. The SPLC also recently endorsed the statement.

At the time, the Press Right Commission was directed to design a recommended process and guidelines on how advisers might handle prior review if faced with it. Below you will fine those guidelines and process along with links to supporting philosophy and resources. We welcome your input.

While we know advisers will make decisions regarding prior review and other educational issues based on what they believe they can best support philosophically, JEA reiterates its strong rejection of prior review, and hence prior restraint, as a tool in the educational process. With that belief, we feel an obligation to help advisers faced with this situation.

Statements to accompany JEA’s definitions of prior review and restraint:

As journalism teachers, we know our students learn more when they make publication choices and that prior review or restraint do not teach students to produce higher quality journalism.

As journalism teachers, we know the only way to teach students to take responsibility for their decisions is to give them the responsibility to make those decisions freely.

As journalism teachers, we know democracy depends on students understanding all voices have a right to be heard and knowing they have a voice in their school and community.

Thus, to help students achieve work that is up to professional standards, journalism educators should consider the following process:

• Encourage transparency about who determines the content of a student publication by alerting readers and viewers when student media are subject to prior review and restraint;

• Advocate the educational benefits of student press freedom if student media are subject to prior review or restraint;

• Provide students with access to sources of professional advice outside the school for issues they need to address;

• Provide students with tools that include adequate knowledge and resources to successfully carry out their work. By using these tools, we build trust in the learning process and the theories on which it is based;

• Encourage students to seek multiple points of view and to explore a variety of credible sources in their reporting and decision-making;

• Coach instead of make requirements or demands thus modeling the value of the learning process and demonstrating the trust we place in our educational system;

• Empower students to know the difference between sound and unsound journalism and how to counsel their peers about potential dangers;

• Model a professional newsroom atmosphere where students share in and take responsibility for their work. In so doing, we increase dialogue and help ensure civic and journalistic responsibility;

• Use peer editing to encourage student interaction, analysis and problem solving;

• Instruct students about civic engagement and journalism’s role in maintaining and protecting our democratic heritage;

• Showcase student media where the dissemination of information is unfiltered by prior review and restraint so the school’s various communities receive accurate, truthful and complete information.

Recommended process if facing prior review, restraint

If, after employing the above techniques, student journalists still object to changes an adviser discusses, the following describes a process to handle potential disagreement:

1. Adviser and students disagree about content for publication.

2. Adviser and students discuss all angles of the disagreement; they try to find common ground.

3. The adviser and students decide if the disagreement is based on an ethical issue or a legal one.

4. If violations of libel, obscenity, unwarranted invasion of privacy, copyright infringement or material disruption of the school process are likely at stake, the adviser urges students to get advice of the Student Press Law Center or reliable legal resource. Not just any school lawyer or administrator will do. The resource, which could include non-live information, must be reputable for scholastic media. The phrase “unprotected speech” might not be enough because Hazelwood so muddied the concept.

5. If the disagreement is not over a legal consideration, the adviser urges students to consider the “red light” or similar questions raised by The Poynter Institute to see how various stakeholders might react if the material is published. Students see and consider the possible outcomes of publication and discuss with the adviser ramifications of their actions.

6. Adviser and students continue to discuss and explore alternative approaches until they reach a point of no possible agreement.

7. This process fulfills the adviser’s commitment to advise, not to make or require decisions, and to be cognizant of his/her responsibilities to school and students.

The Journalism Education Association reiterates its position that prior review and prior restraint violate its Adviser Code of Ethics and educational philosophy.

Additional links and resources:

• 10 Tips for Covering Controversial Subjects from the press rights commission website

Questions advisers should ask those who want to implement prior review from commission blog

JEA’s Adviser Code of Ethics from the commission blog. Scroll to the bottom

JEA’s statement on prior review from the JEA website

Results of a Master’s study on prior review and publication awards from the commission’s website

Resources from the press rights commission on developing professional standards from press rights website

NSPA Model Code of Ethics for student journalists from NSPA’s website

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