Pages Navigation Menu
PANIC BUTTON

What to tell your principal about Prior Review? QT 62

Posted by on Apr 23, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Quick Hits: Student First Amendment Rights

The bad news is that administrators may legally ask to see stories before they are printed or aired, but prior review leaves them in an awkward situation, because of the good news below.

The good news is that they generally cannot ask students to change anything or spike the story. That would be prior restraint, allowed legally only under narrow conditions.*

Prior Review is a bad idea for both students and the school. But how do you convince the administrations?

You have two strong arguments against prior review. The first is a legal argument, the second is a pedagogical one.

First, when administrators review student publications prior to publishing, they and the school district become responsible for its content and policies. These three cases show the protection schools enjoy when they allow student control of student media:

  1. Because Lexington High School students made all the editorial, business and staffing decisions for both the LHS Yearbook and the school paper, a suit brought against the district failed. The adults were sued because the student leaders of the paper had refused to run two ads. The school’s superintendent, principal, the two publication advisers and the five school members of the school committee escaped unharmed from the suit that alleged they were violating the First and Fourteenth amendments when the school publications refused the ads. (Yeo v. Town of Lexington (1997) in the First Circuit Court of Appeals)
  2. Because the students, not the school district, decided which senior portraits to allow in the Londonderry High School yearbook, the district was protected from successful suit for First Amendment violation when the students rejected a senior portrait with a shotgun. The judge found that it was not the school district that rejected the photo. It was the student yearbook editors. “The state has not, it seems, suppressed Blake’s speech. His fellow students have done so.” (Douglass v. Londonderry School District (2005) in the U.S. District Court for New Hampshire.) 
  3. Because the students of Roosevelt High School in Seattle practiced strong journalism and controlled the content of their student media, a lower court ruled in favor of the Seattle Public Schools and against slumlords suing the district for libel following an article in The Roosevelt News, “Sisley Slums Cause Controversy: Developers and neighborhood clash over land use.”  The lower court ruled that if what the students write is true, it is not libel, and where the students make the content decisions, the school district is protected from successful suit. (Sisley v. Seattle School District (2011 in the Court of Appeals of Washington (state), Division 1)

Second, when administrators exercise prior review, students lose the opportunity to develop skill crucial to democracy, including the ability to recognize sound journalism and fake news. When students choose the content of their publications to please—or at least “get past”—administrators, they are denied the opportunity to apply what they learn in class about news values, ethics and press law.

In contrast, students who control the content of their publication regularly consider their audience’s right to know and individuals’ right to privacy. They judge the strength and reliability of sources. They strive to make their reporting fair and accurate. They come to cherish their audience’s trust and they admit mistakes, issue corrections and retractions, and live with the consequences. They are prepared to be responsible citizens as intelligent consumers of media.

There is no evidence that prior review by administration improves learning in any way.

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*In states under the Tinker standard, an administrator could restrain stories that pose a clear and present danger of inciting students to commit crimes on school premises or violate lawful school regulations, or substantially disrupt the orderly operation of the school. The administrator could also restrain stories that contain obscenity or slander/libel.

 

In the states that remain under Hazelwood, the administrator would need a “legitimate pedagogical concern.”

 

Resources:

QuickHits So what does Hazelwood actually allow administrators to do?

QuickHits The Perks of Being a Wallflower: How a School District Escaped a Lawsuit by Fostering an Independent Student Press.  Yeo v. Town of Lexington (1997) in the First Circuit Court of Appeals

Quickhits More Perks of Being a Wallflower: How two other School District Escaped Lawsuits by Fostering an Independent Student Press. Douglass v. Londonderry School District (2005) and Sisley v. Seattle School District (2011)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More

Allowing sources to preview content
is ethically questionable QT12

Posted by on Sep 18, 2017 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

The newest reporter on staff chooses to cover the story about the Science Department’s new policy on studying animal life. To do so, she must interview the head about a new policy on studying animal life. It’s fairly controversial because People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is strongly opposed to dissection and the new curriculum for advanced biology includes that.

What to do if sources, including the expert, want to see the story ahead of time?

Showing media content to sources is really just another form of prior review — but one with some hidden challenges. Sometimes the source can make it sound like its his or her understood right to review, and an untrained reporter might just agree. Also, the adult often believes the student might “get it wrong” and publish misinformation that could create problems. However, both students and sources should build trust in the reporting process by demonstrating integrity in their information-gathering and fact-checking processes.

 

Guideline:

Sources do not have the right to review materials prior to publication. Allowing sources to preview content at any stage of production raises serious ethical and journalistic practice questions.

Stance:

Showing media content to sources is a topic that may come up unexpectedly. Often a school administrator, teacher or other “adult of power” makes the request, and student reporters are unsure if they can — or should — refuse. This creates confusion and misunderstanding.

Students should not show content to sources because it is another form of prior review with ethical and journalistic challenges. They should be aware such requests are possible and know what to do if they happen.

Reasoning/suggestions:

Showing media content to sources is really just another form of prior review — but one with some hidden challenges. Sometimes the source can make it sound like its his or her understood right to review, and an untrained reporter might just agree. Also, the adult often believes the student might “get it wrong” and publish misinformation that could create problems. However, both students and sources should build trust in the reporting process by demonstrating integrity in their information-gathering and fact-checking processes.

Students may opt to verify quotes by reading them back to sources. If sources indicate quotes are inaccurate, students should check their notes and act accordingly. This should not include changing the original quotes because sources want to revise their statements.

Another unintended consequence of seeing the entire story: If sources see others’ quotes or information in the story, they have an opportunity to refute them before anything is published, giving one source an advantage over the other.

Resources:

Show and print,” American Journalism Review

Ethical Case Study: A lesson on the rules of prior approval of quotes, content
The Essentials of Sourcing, Reuters
Writing and Reporting the News, Carole Rich
Sharing Stories With Sources Before Publication Is Risky, But Can Improve Accuracy, Steve Buttry
Lesson: Crafting the Argument, Journalism Education Association
Lesson: A Lesson on the Rules of Prior Approval of Quotes, Content, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee

 

 

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Understanding the perils of
prior review and restraint

Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 in Blog, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Title
Understanding the perils of prior review and restraint

Description
This lesson asks the viewers to participate by providing the answers to several questions concerning prior review and restraint. Following each slide, the correct answer is provided as well as a description of the reasoning for the answer.

Objectives
• Students will learn the difference between prior review and restraint.
• Students will understand why prior review and restraint are not beneficial to any involved including students, teachers and administrators.
• Students will have understand the benefits of not having prior review.

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.

Length
40 minutes

Materials / resources
CD2015 Prior Review pdf

Lesson step-by-step
Step 1: partner work — 2-5 minutes

Students should work in pairs to define the terms prior review and prior restraint. Teacher should ask several pairs to report their definitions.

Step 2: slideshow — 25 minutes
Teacher and students should work through the slideshow.

Step 3: debrief — 10-13 minutes
Students should review why prior review and restraint can negatively affect student media.

Differentiation
Teacher could ask students to research how an administrator reviewing content is not like the publisher or editor of media. Students could access resources and report back to the group.

Additional Resources
Prior review button on menu bar, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
JEA Board Statement on Prior Review, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
Building a Climate of Trust Can Ease Prior Review, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
Seeking a Cure for the Hazelwood Blues: A call to Action, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
Audio: Panic Button, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee, Press Rights Minute
Audio: Eliminating Prior Review, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee, Press Rights Minute

 

Read More