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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.

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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.

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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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Fond du Lac gets new policy,
content in hands of students, adviser

Posted by on Sep 1, 2014 in Blog, Digital Media, Hazelwood, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Students at Wisconsin’s Fond du Lac High have a new editorial policy this fall after a spring and summer of working to reach compromise that would end prior review and restraint.

Reporter Sharon Roznik wrote in the  local  fdlreporter the board of education would support guidelines that give the “final decision-making process for publication ‘lies with the editors-in-chief and the editorial board in consultation with the faculty adviser.'”

Roznik and Cardinal Columns adviser Matt Smith report that Smith “has the authority” to refuse publication if material is libelous or obscene or can be called unprotected speech.

Roznik quotes Smith as appreciative of the board working with him and students obtain a solution.

“The students and I will meet regularly with the principal and/or district staff to discuss how things are going and continue building understanding about best practices for scholastic journalism as well as appreciation for how well our students operate and how much they deserve our trust and support. ” Smith wrote in an email earlier this month.”

Smith, wrote Roznik, said the best thing for the district in the long run is to make the Cardinal Columns a public forum for student expression.

To see the new policy guidelines, go here.

For background on the issue, go herehere and here.

 

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Fond du Lac English department statement
should be guide to those who face review

Posted by on Mar 23, 2014 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

When the Fond du Lac English department issued a statement supporting embattled student journalists there March 21, they signaled clear support against those who would censor student expression.

We urge other groups in high schools across the country follow their lead, especially if their student media labor under prior review.

We urge other groups in high schools across the country follow their lead, especially if their student media labor under prior review.

Students at the school have faced censorship since their principal imposed new prior review directives March 10 following student publication of “The “Rape Joke” story, a look at what student journalists felt was a “culture of rape” at the school and focused on three students who said they were raped.

Important parts of the English department statement include:
• …“The story, itself, stands as an exemplar of high quality, responsible journalism that has helped countless readers feel supported, speak up, seek help, and come together in a way that has undoubtedly resulted in a more positive environment in our school. We need more stories like this one, not fewer.
• “The fact that the new guidelines were drawn up so quickly, in defiance of past precedent, without warning or consultation with the school newspaper advisor or staff or other interested parties, and in the most restrictive form possible has the students worried that such stories, while powerful and community-building, may be controversial or not be “positive” enough to gain future approval.
• “Our students, allowed some freedom to work together to think critically and make informed choices on their own along with the guidance of a highly qualified instructor, are capable of truly amazing things. Such work should be celebrated, not censored.”

The group also urged the superintendent and school board to support the open forum for student expression and to drafted new guidelines “in collaboration with students, community and experts in the field” to accomplish that.

We absolutely agree, for these reasons and countless others:
• No one has ever demonstrated  legitimate educational rationale for prior review. Defenses almost always come in the form of public relations and personal administrative preferences. Not even the Hazelwood decision supports that.
• Academic rigor and civic engagement require student decision-making and critical thinking where students apply the principles they learn. Anything less prevents the authentic learning a journalistically responsible student media must demonstrate.
• A free and unfettered journalism is at the core of a democracy. If students see they cannot practice what they are taught, they will come to see that democracy as flawed, unreal and unworthy of protection.
• Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in The Elements of Journalism and its follow-up book Blur, say journalism’s first obligation is to the truth. Achieving that, through accuracy, balance and coherence of content cannot occur under the practice of prior review.
• In Blur, Kovach and Rosenstiel emphasize the discipline of verification, which is also limited if not impossible in an atmosphere of prior review.
• We strongly support the Questions about Prior Review the department mentions as they substantially reflect JEA policy and beliefs.

We strongly urge English departments, social studies departments, parent booster groups and any citizen or educator who supports learning and rigor in schools to examine the Fond du Lac English department statement.

The statement provides a summary of essential positions JEA and other scholastic media groups have advocated for years. For more about those beliefs and principles, go here.

Whether we teach freedom of expression in English and journalism, social studies or news/media literacy, we must practice that belief or all the rigor and literacy we give lip service to will be shallow, meaningless words.

As we move forward with authentic learning, expanded news literacy and civic engagement, we must prime our students with real practices that reflect what they are taught.

Whether we teach freedom of expression in English and journalism, social studies or news/media literacy, we must practice that belief or all the rigor and literacy we give lip service to will be shallow, meaningless words.

 

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