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New Quick Tips listing can help provide
solutions, guides to media issues

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Working on a sensitive story? Looking to add new ethical  guidelines to help students deal with new technology? Want to finalize the process to use if students wish to run political ads or endorsements?

Quick Tips can help with ethical guidelines supported by reasoning and staff manual procedures to reach outcomes you desire.

If you or your students have suggestions to add to our list, please contact SPRC Director Lori Keekley.

This is our latest Quick Tips list. We hope you find its points useful.

Each newly posted QT  has a short annotation and a link to the materials. Each addition also has links for more depth and related content.

To see a list of already posted Quick Tips, please go here.

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Clickbait QT68

Posted by on May 16, 2018 in Blog, Digital Media, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Guideline:

Journalists should present relevant information in context so the audience has adequate information on which to base decisions. Context is just as important as factual accuracy and can help readers fully understand an issue and its relevance to their daily lives.

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Senior quotes, wills:
Can harm students, damage credibility QT65

Posted by on May 6, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Senior wills, April Fool’s issues and senior quotes sometimes can be considered the three Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

They  have minimal journalistic value and can quickly damage a staff’s –– and a school’s –– reputation and credibility.

Senior quotes present too much potential for damage and turn over too much control of your student publications to students who are not trained in legal and ethical considerations. Libel, innuendo, and bullying could be slipped into content, and it may slip past your editors or advisers, thus causing harm to students and damaging your publication.

Guideline:

Because senior quotes have minimal journalistic value and great potential for damage, they will not be used in school publications.

Social media post/question:

Senior quotes in your publications? 

Key points/action:

Students love senior quotes in the yearbook or newspaper, but what happens when a student slips something inappropriate in the quote? When does the editor decide what can and cannot go in? What if another student is bullied through a quote, and you don’t catch it? What if a double entendre slips in that no one recognizes? What if a student says something in September that they don’t want published in May? Can you guarantee every student will be equally represented?

Stance:

Senior quotes should be taken out of your yearbooks and replaced with better ways of telling student stories.

Reasoning/suggestions:

Senior quotes present too much potential for damage and turn over too much control of your student publications to students who are not trained in legal and ethical considerations. Libel, innuendo, and bullying could be slipped into content, and it may slip past your editors or advisers, thus causing harm to students and damaging your publication.

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Handling controversial ads/content QT51

Posted by on Feb 25, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Student media should not discriminate against advertising based on students’ personal beliefs.

For example, students should attempt to include advertisers from multiple perspectives. According to the federal court decision in Yeo v. Lexington, student editors have the right to reject advertisements and school administrators are not legally responsible for advertising decisions students make.

A potential advertiser proposes an ad for your student media concerning a controversial product or service — tanning salons, for example. It’s money, but you also know recent studies show the possible harmful effects of such tanning.

How do you handle the request? What obligations do you have in terms of social responsibility, ethics and health-related issues. Likewise, you may be presented with an ad for an organization many in your staff or student body do not support.

The best path to resolve those questions and face the issues is to prepare for them ahead of time.

Guidelines: Students should not discriminate against advertising based on their personal beliefs. For example, students should attempt to include advertisers from multiple perspectives. According to the federal court decision in Yeo v. Lexington, student editors have the right to reject advertisements and school administrators are not legally responsible for advertising decisions students make.

Question: Should there be a point when media don’t accept ads?

Key points/action: A potential advertiser proposes an ad for your student media concerning a controversial product or service — tanning salons, for example. It’s money, but you also know recent studies show the possible harmful effects of such tanning.

How do you handle the request? What obligations do you have in terms of social responsibility, ethics and health-related issues. Likewise, you may be presented with an ad for an organization many in your staff or student body do not support.

The best path to resolve those questions and face the issues is to prepare for them ahead of time.

Stance: While there are no quick and easy answers, you can build ethical room for discussion by anticipating the issues.

Reasoning/suggestions: First, is it a right v wrong situation? That’s easy. If a right v right ethical situation, then you should have a process of weighing issues.

Develop a set of criteria best suited to your school and its communities. Whose values are the most crucial to the communities? Harm no one? Free expression? Credible information and from which point of view?

Our recommendation is to develop an ethical guideline outlining your key values and then develop a checklist to help students through the decision-making process.

Resources: SPLC Advertising FAQs

Yeo v. Lexington

SPRC: Advertising

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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Make it matter: Verification essential
as journalists seek truth QT46

Posted by on Jan 23, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism | 0 comments

by Kristin Taylor

One key component of every journalist’s ethical code is truth. Given that Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” their 2016 word of the year and the president has called venerable traditional news sources “fake news,” getting the facts right is more crucial than ever.

Verifying information is an essential part of the reporting process. Looking at real life examples such as the process NYT reporter Suzanne Craig used to verify Trump’s tax records will help to see the steps responsible reporters take to ensure accuracy.

Being accurate means verifying information gathering in the reporting process. Whether it’s how to spell a name or if the percentages the treasurer is giving you add up to 100, always question and check the facts.

One good method to corroborate “facts” you receive is to make sure others agree. Ask the same question to several sources and make sure you get the same answers. If you don’t, dig deeper.

You should practice identifying verifiable facts in article drafts and create strategies you can use to verify those facts, such as how to check quotes for accuracy without sharing the entire article draft with the source, how to use secondary sources to verify facts, how to check information with multiple sources to provide more context and how to verify images and information on social networks.

Some suggestions:

  • Set up multiple deadlines for stories so editors can watch reporters’ progress. This helps cut down on the last-minute rush to deadline when reporters run out of time to verify.
  • Be sure all reporters know what to say if a source – particularly a school administrator or an intimidating adult – asks to read a complete story ahead of time. Create a process wh
  • ere students can check quotes for accuracy without showing the source the whole piece.Ask multiple sources the same question to make sure their answers line up.

Guideline: Journalists should approach their reporting and interviewing with a healthy dose of skepticism. This doesn’t mean they should trust no one, but it means they should be aware of potential conflicts of interest or barriers to receiving accurate information. Reporters should always verify, even if the information seems incredibly obvious and simplistic. Verifying information is much like fact-checking. Students should seek multiple forms of evidence to confirm information.

Social Media Post/Question: Why is it important for students to verify information as part of the reporting process?

Reasoning/suggestions: One key component of every journalist’s ethical code is truth. That means being accurate, and accuracy means verifying. Whether it’s how to spell a name or if the percentages the treasurer is giving you add up to 100, always question and check the facts.

One good method to corroborate “facts” you receive is to make sure others agree. Ask the same question to several sources and make sure you get the same answers. If you don’t, dig deeper.

Verifying information is an essential part of the reporting process. Looking at real life examples such as the process NYT reporter Suzanne Craig used to verify Trump’s tax records will help students to see the steps responsible reporters take to ensure accuracy.

Students should practice identifying facts that can be verified in article drafts and create strategies reporters can use to verify those facts, such as how to check quotes for accuracy without sharing the entire article draft with the source, how to use secondary sources to verify facts, how to check information with multiple sources to provide more context and how to verify images and information on social networks.

Suggestions include:

  • Set up multiple deadlines for stories so editors can watch reporters’ progress. This helps cut down on the last-minute rush to deadline when reporters run out of time to verify.
  • Be sure all reporters know what to say if a source – particularly a school administrator or an intimidating adult – asks to read a complete story ahead of time. Create a process where students can check quotes for accuracy without showing the source the whole piece.
  • Ask multiple sources the same question to make sure their answers line up.

Resources:

The Time I Found Donald Trump’s Tax Records in My Mailbox” – Susanne Craig

American Press Institute’s guidelines for verification and accuracy

How do journalists verify? A Poynter Institute Media Wire column by Canadian researchers delves into the answers.

New research details how journalists verify information – Craig Silverman, Poynter

Tools for verifying and assessing the validity of social media and user-generated content – Josh Stearns and Leighton Walter Kille, Journalist’s Resource

FactChecking Day – Poynter

Fact-checking resources – SchoolJournalism.org

Are you a journalist? Download this free guide for verifying photos and videos – Alastair Reid

Should journalists outsource fact-checking to academics? – Alexios Mantzarlis

Journalists and their sources – Thomas Patterson (talk at Carnegie)

 

 

 

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