Pages Navigation Menu

What’s in your editorial policies,
board- and publication-level,
does make a difference

Posted by on May 10, 2015 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

sprclogoSometimes adversity can be a blessing in disguise. At least that is the point SaraRose Martin, co-editor of Fauquier High School’s The Falconer published May 8.

In a column, Martin said administrative censorship helped her learn she had rights and how political the world is.

“I learned how much I believe in free speech and the significance of fighting for it,” she wrote.

The article that drew administrative censorship was coverage of “dabbing,” a term for smoking a concentrated form of marijuana. An opinion piece about censorship of the story can be found here. The dabbing article can be found here. An SPLC article on the censorship can be found here.

Martin also published two additional articles May 8, on the school’s prior review policies and her view of its limitations and the other examining prior review as an extension of curriculum.

Martin’s passion over the importance of unreviewed and unrestrained scholastic journalism is evident throughout the articles.

Also evident is the importance of strong editorial policies as well as student media being forums for student expression.

Reflect on the articles and the passion behind them. Then do everything you can to ensure strong editorial policies prevent the interruption of student learning evident here.

Read More

Fighting censorship?
Here are ideas that can help

Posted by on Apr 27, 2015 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

sprclogoBecause so many advisers have talked about prior review situations lately, and how to handle them, her is a link to an Student Press Law Center-Newspaper Association of America Foundation project that might offer some help.

Titled Press Freedom in Practice, besides reviewing basics of press law, it highlights adviser stories  about how they overcame issues like prior review and other forms of censorship.

Sections of the pamphlet include strategies for success that include communication, setting high standards for students, letting students lead the fight against censorship and identifying allies in the fight.

We hope to update the project during the next year.

For additional materials, look here.


Read More

The freedom to speak:
the John Wall Voices Act

Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 in Blog, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 1 comment

by Faith Harron, sophomore
Century High School
Century Star newsmagazine

sprclogoThe Constitution of the United States guarantees all are created free and equal and endowed with the same rights.

When it comes to journalism, though, many high school and college students are not equal to their adult counterparts.

Some a few in North Dakota are trying to change that. With the backing of representatives Jessica Haak and Corey Mock, a bill was written by college students at the University of Jamestown and introduced it in the House this month.

The current bill, the John Wall New Voices Act, is something different. It would grant student journalists in high school (like me) as well as college limited First Amendment rights to publish school newspapers.

“The John Wall New Voices Act is a wonderful tool to ensure student journalists are provided the same freedoms that professional journalists are awarded thanks to our First Amendment,” said Corey Mock, assistant minority leader in the North Dakota House of Representatives. “Since I had been working on the bill with Rep. Haak since April of 2013, sponsoring the bill was the easiest decision I have made all session long.”

Censorship is akin to blunting a pen, or even writing in invisible ink. What purpose does the story serve if it never sees the light of day? This is sometimes the case when prior review is allowed.

This allows the censorship of “questionable content.”

But who is the judge of “questionable content?” Is it the authorities in the school? The journalism advisers? The students, who have been taught to judge between right and wrong?

Jeremy Murphy was a West Fargo teacher who was fired because there “was a difference in philosophy when it came to student journalism and how students decided content for the publications,” he said.

He was later rehired by the school district and continues to teach journalism with no prior review, and adds “there is probably a fear factor when it comes to a bill on student expression…some people might think it allows students free reign on what they can do.”

However, there are guidelines written into the bill for appropriate student speech. But there are other concerns about the bill.

Censorship and the chilling effect are hard to prove. We can show how…widespread this issue is nationally, and we hope that our legislators will know that we North Dakotans are not immune. – Steven Listopad, University of Jamestown


“[A] threat to a bill like this is the ‘ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ principle,” said Steven Listopad, the teacher who helped his Jamestown students draft the bill. “Censorship and the chilling effect are hard to prove. We can show how…widespread this issue is nationally, and we hope that our legislators will know that we North Dakotans are not immune. We North Dakotans, just like any other human being, will choose more control over less in any given situation even though when it comes to your right to speak less control is exactly what we need.”

What started as a class project in COMM 412: Civics and Citizen Journalism at the University of Jamestown has become a bill…and possibly a law.

“The John Wall New Voices Act will be heard by the House Education committee this month and hopefully given a ‘do pass’ recommendation before it comes to a final vote on the House floor,” Mock said.

I’m just one high school journalist, and I can’t say I speak for all undergraduate nonfiction writers out there. But I would never consider writing something libelous or obscene. Knowing my peers, I don’t believe they would, either.

It’s a bill. It won’t solve the world’s hunger problems, and it won’t make everyone equal. It probably doesn’t matter to everyone in the world.

But it matters to me, and my peers, and maybe it can help someone share their story. At the very least, it’s a start.


Read More

Where do trust and prior review meet?

Posted by on Oct 5, 2014 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Leading a scholastic media staff in the shadow of Hazelwood

sprclogoby Chris Waugaman, MJE
A lack of trust can destroy scholastic journalism. We have seen it in a number of recent cases.

The scenario involves a student publication and a disgruntled administration. The cause of this tension can come from a variety of places, but in the end what has been broken is trust.

After this point, the battle of what you can and cannot censor in prior review becomes the first battle in an all out war. Sometimes it is unavoidable. But if there is a way to stop this from happening it begins with trust.

Read More

Two examples showing the need to protect
the information gathering process

Posted by on Oct 1, 2014 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

sprclogoWhen a school system tells students in a new policy it proposes that it wants student media to train students in journalism, it might be time to cheer.

But not when, in the same policy, it calls for student media “to foster a wholesome school spirit and support the best traditions of the school,” and reinforces prior review.

That is the case, according to a Student Press Law Center article published Sept. 30, about what’s going on at Highlands Regional High School in New Jersey.

Read More