The Journalism Education Association today reaffirmed its opposition to prior review, prior restraint and their use under the guidelines established in the Hazelwood decision.
JEA’s board of directors unanimously took this stand as it voted to endorse a resolution by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication that said, in part, “the Hazelwood level of control over student journalistic speech is clearly incompatible with the effective teaching of journalistic skills, values and practices, and that institutions of secondary and postsecondary education should forswear reliance on Hazelwood as a source of authority for the governance of student and educator expression.”
JEA’s resolution differed slightly from the AEJMC model as it focused more directly on scholastic journalism.
“This resolution is important for two reasons,” JEA president Mark Newton said. “Anytime we can partner with our college colleagues in AEJMC it shows incredible solidarity. And, most importantly, as the leading scholastic journalism education group, we must stand tall and scream at injustice. Make no mistake the Hazelwood Supreme Court decision and its subsequent interpretations are an injustice to education, students, advisers and the First Amendment.”
The JEA resolution states, in part: “The Journalism Education Association (JEA) joins with the Association of Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in stating that no legitimate pedagogical purpose is served by the censorship of student journalism on the grounds that it reflects unflatteringly on school policies and programs, that it candidly discusses sensitive social and political issues, or that it voices opinions challenging to majority views on matters of public concern. The censorship of such speech, or the punishment of media advisers based on that speech, is detrimental to effective learning and teaching, and it cannot be justified by reference to “pedagogical concerns.”
Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said, “Because Hazelwood requires schools to present a justification for censorship that is “’legitimate’ and is based on “pedagogical” concerns, the consensus of the nation’s journalism professors as to what constitutes a legitimate educational reason for censorship should carry persuasive value with judges.”
In a second resolution, also passed unanimously, JEA endorsed an Illinois Journalism Education Association resolution had three major points:
• that the Illinois Journalism Education Association urges school district and school administrators to preserve, enhance and support independent student media; and
• the Illinois Journalism Education Association supports and defends media advisers and strongly urges the end of random reassignment or removal of advisers without due cause, and
• the Illinois Journalism Education Association applauds and staunchly defends the efforts of journalism educators for providing students the skills and education to produce free, responsible and independent student media.
“In any way possible,” Newton said, “JEA has an obligation to support advisers whose jobs and livelihoods are targeted for advocating and supporting student freedom of expression. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to have such a resolution like the one IJEA has written. However, it’s quite apparent that we have a lot of work to do to not only raise awareness, but take one further step to making sure advisers know that we support them, their students and their programs.”
JEA’s Hazelwood resolution can be downloaded here. The Illinois resolution here. The AEJMC resolution here.
JEA’s press rights commission will announce the next step in the resolution process within a couple of days.
Scholastic journalism’s focus this year is and should be on the 25th anniversary of Hazelwood v Kuhlmeier and the issues it helped spawn, from outright censorship to elimination of programs and teachers.Next year brings two notable anniversaries, both of on the results of censorship and other issues that limited – and continue to limit – journalism programs around the country.
Next year brings two notable anniversaries, both on the results of censorship and other issues that limited – and continue to limit – journalism programs around the country.
“Captive Voices,” published in 1974, is out of print, but available on Amazon. It will be 40 years since this expose first helped the public become aware of censorship and attitudes that limited student expression, and pointed to the importance of journalism education in America’s schools.
This study also brought about the Student Press Law Center, journalism education’s foremost legal support for teachers, students and communities in their search for free expression and civic engagement.
“Death By Cheeseburger,” published in 1994, out of print but available online here, focused on the health of American’s scholastic journalism programs 20 years after “Captive Voices.” Created around censorship of a story on school cafeteria food, the book included examination of scholastic journalism in much the same approach as “Captive Voices.” It marked the real beginning of commercial media putting forth resources to study, as well as improve, scholastic journalism on many levels.
Careful reading – and we all should revisit these books – will reveal issues fought 40 and 20 years ago still exist and still demand our attention as journalism educators.
We note these studies today because we must remain vigilant about the issues they raised.
• Advisers continue to lose their jobs for a myriad of reasons. For example, in Illinois, an adviser was RIFed (reduction in force) because of finances, the board said. The adviser says differently. His situation is certainly not the only one. For more information, go here and here. For information about a California adviser fearing retaliation, go here.
• Complaints about journalistic coverage and content continue as well. At Mountain View, Calif., students published a section on teen sex issues and some members of the community raised intense objection. Pro-student speakers and opponents discussed the issue at a board meeting. To date, school officials support the students right to make content decisions.
For information, see:
–Mountain View High School student newspaper’s sex stories raise parent ire
–Debate over sex education column defines us
--High school paper’s sex and relationships article stirs up controversy
Because the hits like these keep coming, we cannot become complacent. We must celebrate and support those who contribute to our successes.
The Student Press Law Center received an Education Writer’s Association second place national award for ”FERPA Fact” in the Best Blog category by a nonprofit or advocacy organization.
Frank LoMonte, in an email to the SPLC’s Advisory Council, said, “When we created FERPA Fact, we thought we were doing something pretty cool — leveraging the power of humor to get people talking about a serious problem that is in need of reform. We are pleased that others agree.”
We applaud the SPLC for being an unparalleled leader in scholastic journalism’s fight of this ongoing battle that shows no signs of ending.
by Ellen Austin
What is it about March? Even Shakespeare noticed it, putting the soothsayer’s warning out to Caesar about the time span that begins this week.
So the bad news from the early Ides of March rolls in …
I read with great surprise and shock this weekend the news that a well-known and professionally recognized colleague posted to a Listserv about losing his current position as a journalism adviser at in suburban Chicago.
It reminds me of a quote attributed variously to Saddam Hussein, Stalin, and others of that ilk whose names have become synonymous with suppression: “If you have a person, you have a problem; no person, no problem.”
The ultimate form of censorship is eliminating a person’s ability to do or say the thing which might cause concern. It’s also the pernicious form of censorship that too many high schools and universities have used to quell and control the student voices they really wanted to affect.
That adviser is one of our very best, a leader who has devoted himself not just to his students but to the greater cause of scholastic journalism, including outside-of-school service to JEA and state journalism organizations.
If you’re reading this, know that you are also “skin in this game.” It’s not just about this colleague or others whose names flash by on the marquee of a Listserv. It’s about all of us, and the collective work we do. We work at the flash point in our schools, the place where we really get to see what kind of climate of free expression exists on our campuses. I remember being told by a mentor early on, “Be prepared: you will probably lose your advising job at some point, if you’re doing it right.”
Earlier this week, my colleague Paul Kandell and I are heading over to neighboring Mountain View High School to sit in on the board meeting in which the journ advisers are being asked to discuss their programs. Amy Beare, the adviser to the Mountain View Oracle, will be presenting to the board, with (I hope) a room full of supportive parents and students around her.
It’s Monday, and only a couple of weeks after our celebration of Scholastic Journalism Week. This is hard, but meaningful work that we do.
What am I trying to say here? Guess I don’t really know. Mostly, here’s my Monday note to say that this is a hard hard job — and one which sometimes requires us to say, “How much do I believe in this? How strongly can I stand for what I believe? How willing am I to face the cost that may come with standing?”
Good luck to all of us this week as we go through our classes and our deadlines. I will be crossing my fingers tonight across town in the hopes that a neighboring school board sees that student free expression is a scary, but wonderful thing. Love that U.S. Constitution.
Ellen Austin is Dow Jones News Fund Teacher of the Year for this year
While next week’s 25th anniversary of the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier decision isn’t something to celebrate in a traditional sense, it does offer the opportunity for pause and reflection. And in some cases, it gives us the chance to say thanks.
Thank you to the principals, school board members and decision-makers out there supporting student journalists and the educational experience involved in a media program free of administrative control. Thank you for trusting students, under the guidance of teachers and advisers, to do their jobs as reporters. Thank you for encouraging their journey through a process that involves tireless research, interviewing, critical thinking, writing, editing and revision — the stories they tell truly make a difference.
In many states, principals by law can exercise prior review. Thankfully many know better and decide against this practice. The 25th anniversary of the Hazelwood decision seems like a great time to say thank you to those principals. If you’d like to send a letter or note of appreciation, now’s the time.
Here’s a simple card you can download and customize as a way to say thanks from journalism students to their principal, for example. Ready to print and use — with student signatures, a staff photo or whatever meets your needs.
Want to send a letter or email? Maybe this sample will help:
Dear principal/administrator/school official,
Thank you for the continued support of our journalism program and the daily opportunities it provides for our students as 21st-century learners.
This month, we are reflecting on the 25th anniversary of a Supreme Court case that significantly limited student media — Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier — and I am reminded again of how challenging it would be to advise publications in a school setting that failed to support student press freedom. True growth, learning and leadership occurs when students are accountable for their own decision-making process and work independently to serve the school community. Through thorough research and careful reporting, they are able to tell important stories that benefit others.
Advising in a supportive environment free of prior review (a form of censorship) offers a win-win. As students engage in thoughtful decision-making and critical thinking, I am able to focus as the teacher on creating meaningful, standards-based lessons.
I am proud to be part of a school climate that demonstrates a solid commitment to an authentic education and civic engagement.
Clearly we have a long road ahead in securing a free press for all student journalists, but I hope we won’t miss this opportunity to thank those who support what we do. We know it’s the right thing, and we can only hope the 25th anniversary of this decision will unite our efforts in spreading the word.
by Randy Swikle
Retired Student Newspaper Adviser
Johnsburg High School, Johnsburg, Ill.
In 2002, my principal at Johnsburg High School, Chuck Dill, was JEA’s Administrator of the Year. He was an exemplary facilitator who involved local stakeholders of scholastic journalism in a partnership that guarded student autonomy, that balanced student press rights with ethics and pedagogical responsibilities and that nurtured First Amendment education, appreciation and application.
Students were empowered but not emancipated; educators were authoritative but not authoritarian; and the school culture was collaborative and not autocratic. It was an ideal balance of responsibilities that cultivated democratic learning and inspired engaged citizenship.
One Labor Day weekend, our principal was arrested and charged with operating a motorboat while under the influence. He put the school mission above his personal vulnerability and supported the right of student reporters to cover the story on Page 1 of their Johnsburg Weekly News publication. The principal contested the charge, and a judge later exonerated him. That story was covered on Page 1, too.
In the 25 years I advised the JWN, no administrator ever threatened censorship or required prior review of the paper. Controversy was a staple, as it is in any authentic American newspaper. Rather than fear contention, the Johnsburg school community embraced diverse perspectives as an innate feature of a free society. And when journalistic mistakes were made, stakeholders did not point fingers but rather joined hands to problem-solve and inspire remedies.
Principal Dill was a proponent of partnership. I once asked him to list his expectations for the partner who advises the newspaper staff — me! His response serves as a model for nurturing scholastic journalism and the school mission:
No. 10: Understand the peripheral aspects of your job. It is more than teaching journalism. It’s also being an advocate, a problem-solver, a diplomat, a counselor, a personal mentor, a friend, a businessman, a facilitator, a spokesman and a hundred other things.
No. 9: Communicate effectively and ethically. Use strategies of dissemination and persuasion to make a profound difference on the side of what’s right. Focus on issues and maintain the courage to prioritize principle above personal vulnerability.