More than 25 years after the Supreme Court limited First Amendment protections for high school student journalists, a survey of students and media advisers attending a national scholastic journalism convention indicates censorship is a fact of life in many schools.
Of the 5,506 students and teachers who attended the National High School Journalism Convention in Boston, Mass., Nov. 14-17, 2013, 531 students and 69 advisers responded to survey questions asking about their experiences with censorship of student media.
Significant numbers of both students (32 percent) and advisers (39 percent) said school officials had told them not to publish or air something. Thirty-two percent of advisers reported a school official reviews the content of their student news medium before it is published or aired. And 60 percent of students said someone other than student editors had the final authority to determine the content of the student media they advise.
A committee with representatives from the Journalism Education Association, National Scholastic Press Association and Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society is pleased to announce the six winners of the 2014 First Amendment Press Freedom Award.
The award recognizes high schools that actively support, teach and protect First Amendment rights and responsibilities of students and teachers, with an emphasis on student-run media where students make all final decisions of content.
As in previous years, schools competed for the title by first answering questionnaires submitted by an adviser and at least one editor; those who advanced to the next level were asked to provide responses from the principal and all publications advisers and student editors, indicating their support of the five freedoms. In addition, semifinalists submitted samples of their printed policies.
2014 First Amendment Press Freedom Award winners are as follows:
Convent of the Sacred Heart High School, San Francisco, Calif.
Francis Howell North High School, St. Charles, Mo.
Kirkwood High School. Kirkwood, Mo.
Mountlake Terrace High School, Mountlake Terrace, Wash.
North Central High School, Indianapolis, Ind.
Townsend Harris High School, Flushing, N.Y.
These schools will be honored April 10 at the opening ceremony of the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in San Diego.
Two of the schools are first-time recipients: North Central High School and Convent of the Sacred Heart, which is not only a first-time awardee, but the second private school to ever be recognized.
“We are proud of each of these schools for supporting their student media as they practice critical life skills like decision making, critical thinking and civic engagement while informing their audiences,” JEA Scholastic Press Rights Commission chairman said.
This is the 14th year for the recognition. The award, which began with an emphasis on student publications, was originally titled Let Freedom Ring, and later expanded to include the other freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.
First round applications are due annually by Dec. 1. Downloadable applications for 2015 will be available on the JEA website in the fall.
PART 1 OF a 3-PART SERIES
An experienced Ohio newspaper adviser teams up with a former student — who now has a law degree — to teach the staff about using public records. An alleged rape on campus requires student editors to stand their ground accessing information about it. Once they have details about the incident, they have to decide just what they should – or maybe should not – use. It’s a tale that has all the makings of excellent reporting.
Journalism teacher Natalie Sekicky admits she’s lucky. Anyone with a full teaching load and student media to advise can usually only dream about being able to put staffers in teams and work with them as they investigate complicated, in-depth stories.
But then Sekicky’s former editor-in-chief Emily Grannis, a college journalism major, started giving “quick lessons” about record requests to the J1 classes while she was home on breaks. When she entered a nearby law school, she said she was able to work “more formally” with the Shaker Heights students.
Some current story ideas and resources worth checking out:
• The Society of Professional Journalists dedicates its Fall issue of its journal, Quill, to Freedom of Information. This year’s FOI issue can be accessed for free at: Fall 2013 FOI issue of Quill
• A New York Times article on schools watching student use of the Internet outside school:
• How night you be able to localize (or would you want to) this policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
• Teaching Journalism Ethics: a resource for scholastic media advisers: This set of lessons and activities about teaching ethical decision-making is by Maggie Cogar as part of her master’s degree.
• Check out the new, online version of The Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism from Quill and Scroll.
• Ethics, a compilation of resources from SchoolJournalism.org.
• A new blog from Poynter, The Ethics Blog, is outlined in this Poynter article.
• A story to localize: what is bullying? Is it the newest way to get around Tinker?
by Mark Goodman
Journalism education, at both the high school and college level, is facing some real challenges. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Eric Newton weighs in on many of them, including the importance of defending press freedom for students, in his new ebook, Searchlights and Sunglasses (www.searchlightsandsunglasses.org). This free book, available on the web or in several e-reader formats, includes a learning layer with suggested questions and activities designed specifically for the high school journalism classroom.
Check out my thoughts about some of the strengths of this ebook as a teaching tool on the Knight Foundation’s blog: