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Seven schools win
First Amendment Press Freedom Award

Posted by on Feb 23, 2015 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

sprclogoA committee with representatives from the Journalism Education Association, National Scholastic Press Association and Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 First Amendment Press Freedom Award.

The award recognizes public and private 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 First Amendment. In addition, semifinalists submitted samples of their printed policies.

2015 First Amendment Press Freedom Award winners are as follows:

Chantilly High School, Chantilly, Virginia
Francis Howell North High School, St. Charles, Mo.
Kirkwood (Mo.) High School
Mountlake Terrace High School, Mountlake Terrace, Wash.
Smoky Hill High School, Aurora, Colorado
St. Louis Park High School, St. Louis Park, Minnesota
Whitney High School, Rocklin, California

These schools will be honored April 16 at the opening ceremony of the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Denver.

Four of the schools are first-time recipients: Chantilly High School, Smoky Hill High School, St. Louis Park High School and Whitney High School.

“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,” John Bowen, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee director said.

This is the 15th year for the award.

First round applications are due annually by Dec. 15. Downloadable applications for 2016 will be available on the JEA website in the fall.

Information is also available at the JEA site:

•Long version:
•Short version:
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It’s a new year – spread your reporting wings against censorship

Posted by on Aug 30, 2009 in News | 0 comments

As school begins, I can’t help but be excited about the coming year for my students.

Our newspaper, The Smoky Hill Express, has great plans to abandon the usual scholastic soft coverage of clubs and newsletter events and tackle more important news this year. In our budget are plans for features on alcohol sales to minors, our special ed students, and eating disorders.

Our yearbook, The Smoky Hill Summit, is coming off a great content year that included same-sex couples, teen pregnancy, drug use, and overcoming obstacles like prior arrests and childhood illnesses.

Every year, my kids are geeked and ready to spread their reporting wings and see how they can tell the story better than they did the year before.

But, I know not every adviser and staff share our enthusiasm. Far too many scholastic publications face pressure to stay away from these “hard” topics. And, while many advisers and staffs don’t realize it, this pressure is thinly veiled censorship.

Whenever an agent of the government – any paid employee of the public school system – tries to control the content of a student publication, either by explicit rule or casual pressure, this control is censorship.

Far too often, I hear student reporters tell me, “We could never cover that in our book or paper.”

If your publication is truly a student-run publication, then the students alone control the content decisions for that publication. Anything less is censorship.

So, as your staffs begin their training, budgeting, and reporting, make sure they know their rights. Students do not have to cave to the pressure of their administrators to produce only soft, light coverage. There is no “off-limit” topic for your students, and every story can be reported responsibly and well.

Some resources for you in this endeavor can be found on the Scholastic Press Rights Commission home page at www.jeapressrights.org and the Student Press Law Center at www.splc.org.

Carrie Faust, MJE

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