As Scholastic Journalism Week ends, we don’t want to lose sight of issues students and advisers continue to face. Some are as old as Hazelwood; some much newer and raise additional concerns.
• Active voice: SPLC project strives to empower women in student media
SPLC Executive Director Frank LoMonte told attendees at the organization’s 40th anniversary that “the non-profit organization has noticed a trend: girls most often stand up and report on serious issues within their schools and communities. They’re also the first to be shut down.” Hence, a new SPLC project, Active Voices.
• High school students, teachers confront student media censorship
Another in a series of surveys of scholastic student journalists and their advisers at national scholastic journalism conventions shows –again – that censorship is a fact of life in many schools. Of 6,406 students and teacher who attended the NSPA/JEA Washington, D.C. convention in the fall, 52 percent of student respondents said someone other than student editors had the final authority to determine content of the student media.
Other censorship studies include:
• New research shows administrators know more about the First Amendment but don’t fully grasp it
•High school students, teachers ex;eeriness student media censorship
• One man crusades for students’ social media rights nationwide
Attorney Bradley Shear discusses how his work could help make Maryland the 13th state with a law protecting the social media privacy rights of students in colleges and high schools. SPLC podcast.
by John Bowen
With Scholastic Journalism Week starting Feb. 22, it would serve us well to note SPLC executive Frank LoMonte’s words in this week’s Education Week.
LoMonte covers a number of points he suggests disrespect and trivialize high school journalism: mistreating female scholastic journalists, establishing the lowest, barely legal level of freedom for scholastic media and undermining the news-literacy obligation of a high school education.
As we rightfully celebrate our strengths in scholastic journalism next week, we should also heed LoMonte’s points so we help others reach the levels of scholastic journalism programs we honor.
Check out a story here about such a situation where the principal is quoted as saying, “The school paper here at school is mine to control.”
Examine LoMonte’s thoughts, compare with the comments of the principal, and commit ourselves to elevate all journalism programs as they strive to reach the uncensored educational quality of the ones we honor most.
By Tom Gayda
I am a First Amendment fighter. I have long stood by supporting people’s rights to say and do what they want. But then came social media.
There is a fine line between what is right and what is wrong sometimes. Sadly, with the never-ending onslaught of posts, likes and tweets, the notion of acting responsibly has at times taken a backseat.
It isn’t my intent to curtail one’s First Amendment rights. However, I think we must all do a better job showing future adults that not everything in life is post-worthy and what one posts can follow a person for life.
There are responsibilities that come with one’s rights. And while one can basically say anything he or she wants on social media, that isn’t always the smartest thing to do. I warn my own students to think about the image they are projecting by their social media use. Dropping “f-bombs” like nothing might make one hip with their social circle, however others who see such warfare might think twice about interacting with the offender.
I also ask my students to tell me how it’s going to be when their kids are old enough to take advantage of the latest Internet craze and can see everything their mom or dad posted when they were teenagers. Ouch! (Never mind the dancing!) Life went on for millions of years without people sharing with the world their every innermost secret. Somehow we can survive with fewer posts.
Schools patrolling their students Internet activities hardly seems like a good use of time, however it is important kids know there can be consequences to what they post, be it legally or not. Many folks tend to get extra courage behind the safety of their smartphone. We can support free speech and teach how to use it responsibly.
Times are changing and so do the ways we communicate. Think first, and remember, everything you say today will be out there forever.
by Candace Bowen
It’s time to celebrate! Feb. 17-23 is Scholastic Journalism Week. Did your staff make 45 cookies, each with one word from the First Amendment on it? Wear staff t-shirts? Sign the TAO pledge?
That’s great, but celebrations also need gifts and how about some for your colleagues, the other teachers down the hall? It’s likely some of them could use a great last-minute lesson plan, so how about letting THEM see how well journalism skills apply to their content areas, not just in your classroom? The links below are a good start.
• Some think math and journalists don’t mix, but unfortunately, they must because stories have numbers — everything from budgets to school levies to percentages on standardized tests. EditTeach.org, edited by Dr. Deborah Gump, is full of useful goodies, but one of its teaching resources is “Math for journalists – and readers.” Included are math story dilemmas (READ: story problems) journalists – and their readers – face frequently. Yes, the answers are there, too – and so are two PowerPoints.
• HSJ.org is THE site for lesson plans for you, but it includes plenty to share with others in your building. One is perfect as a gift for a history teacher. JEA Illinois State Director Stan Zoller, who attended the ASNE Institute at Hampton University in 2003, created “Watergate: The Coverage and the Aftermath.”
• Concordia University’s HotChalk offers a range of lesson plans tied to rather generic but probably useful standards. For instance, for social studies teachers “Do Something about…Teen voting/civic engagement” gives examples of using writing to spur others to action. Activities include role playing as muckrakers and creating blogs while seeing what impact those can have on civic engagement in the real world.
• The New York Times and Learning Network is just full of lesson plans, all formatted and complete with accompanying materials.
• How about sharing a lesson plan on the history of Valentine’s Day with materials from articles in that publication.
• The economics teacher might like “Here Comes the . . . Bill,” a lesson plan on the cost of milestone events.
• Do teachers in theater classes have students study reviews? Offer them a lesson plan from the New York Times that discusses the pros and cons of using movie reviews to choose what to see.
Use Scholastic Journalism Week to build some good will with these gifts for your fellow teachers. And my gift to you? Some sites you may not have known about, full of additional lesson plans for you!
by Fern Valentine, MJE
During Journalism week, and every week for that matter, we need to stress the unique learning opportunities a publication class offers, unique learning they will be able to utilize no matter where they head after high school.
For example, while law is mentioned at least in social studies classes, in publication classes the students learn first hand the opportunities and limitations of U.S. law including, of course, the First Amendment, but also copyright, libel, etc. They learn to check out their legal questions with free advice from the Student Press Law Center. They learn to use their rights responsibly investigating topics of interest to their audience.
Speaking of their audience, instead of their teacher as an audience to their writing, publications staffs have their peers and other readers as their audience, making them take special care in getting everything right. Students learn to edit copy and apply all those grammar and punctuation rules they have been taught, but, in other classes, only their teachers have corrected.