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What does your social media strategy say about your publication?

Posted by on Feb 3, 2016 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

By Megan Fromm, CJE

sprclogoToday’s student journalists are increasingly taking to social media to promote their work and network with other publications.

However, many scholastic publications do not have a social media strategy that is both ethical and effective.

We’ve covered the basics of an ethical social media policy, and I would encourage students to take this policy one step further by asking: what does your social media strategy say about your publication?

In other words, students should consider whether their social media strategy—across all platforms—reflects the kind of publication they aim to be. Of course, social media should be used both legally and ethically, but the totality of a publication’s social media presence should also represent the best of that publication.

Try this: Consider what might happen if a reader “met” your publication only through social media. Would they think your media is all sports, all the time? Would they believe your media was highly visual and interactive? Would they find easy ways to connect with or reach out to your staff and become part of the process?

Take, for example, what the Instagram and Facebook feeds of our presidential candidates currently convey about their campaigns. Taken together, these social media channels actual portray different or diverse sides of candidates that we might not otherwise experience via traditional, more journalistic platforms.

When used effectively, social media can help your audience see a side of your student media that often remains hidden. So, consider the various ways (beyond simply pushing content) that you can use these platforms: to connect with readers on a more personal level, to help your audience see the personalities and dynamics behind the scenes, or even to establish a level of authenticity in the process of journalism by bringing readers and viewers along for the ride.

Before posting, consider these questions:

  1. What part of the process can we share to help our audience become more invested?
  2. How can we show the personality of our staff and publication without being self-aggrandizing?
  3. Which social media platforms are best for communicating different messages?
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News literacy resource: Using NewsWhip in the classroom

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

Teaching news and media literacy requires a seemingly endless set of contemporary resources. As media changes, examples become outdated, and students move on to the next technology.

A primary goal of news literacy education is to help students see how media operates and its effects on society—in other words, what does the “system” of media look like today?

With this outcome in mind, I’m constantly on the lookout for tools that can shed light on the dynamics of news, social media, technology, and human behavior.

One of my favorite (although admittedly also one of my newest) resources for exploring these topics in the most up-to-date way is via NewsWhip, a website that tracks social media content, how it’s shared, and the human influence of that content.

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Here’s how NewsWhip describes its work:

Through indicators like tweets, shares and comments, people signal what stories are engaging them every minute. NewsWhip’s technology tracks all of this activity for millions of stories to identify those getting the most discussion online.

While NewsWhip is designed as a sort of real-time consulting tool for media companies, its blog provides fresh content and analysis to help students discover more about media and news content today.

For example, an early September post looked at which Republican Candidate was most prominent on Facebook. Using their own data and analysis, including the tracking of shares and comments, NewsWhip provides facts and figures about how candidate information is circulating on Facebook.

The site’s blog posts are not only appropriate for teaching news literacy concepts, but they also often provide insight into using social media and media marketing tools more successfully. These are all topics student media explore on a regular basis, and they provide the perfect context for encouraging students to apply professional media lessons to student media operations.

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Temper social media rights
with journalistic responsibility

Posted by on Feb 17, 2014 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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.SJW-2014

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.


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Three story ideas worthy of student media exploration

Posted by on Jan 7, 2014 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Looking for stories that enable your students to make a significant difference?

Here are three possibilities for localization and expansion:

• Should schools monitor students’ social media sites

This article raises the issue whether software can or should be expected to determine if students’ postings can be considered cyberbullying. The article seems to raise the same concepts and approaches those who supported Internet filtering did, saying software could be so finely designed to judge why students meant. Cyberbullying is a serious issue facing schools, but numerous groups also argue attempts to limit it must have a constitutional basis. Background on this topic should be extensive.

• SR: the right to be nonpolitical

Should homework assignments involve students in political activities? A similar question might challenge giving students class credit to engage in essay writing for contests or other prizes. Do your schools have policies on these practices?

•  Shools not inspiring student to participate in civic life, Stanford scholar says 

The premise of this article is that students are not taught who to become engaged in society, that facts about democracy, citizenship and government are not enough. Active participation, the author urges, is the key. In your school, what is billed as civic involvement, and are the students given a real change to make a difference?


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3rd circuit reinforces student expression,
California system goes opposite direction

Posted by on Aug 5, 2013 in Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Two items of note to scholastic media and student expression so far  this first full week of August, and the week is just starting. Both issues could be localized into solid stories no matter where your school is.

I heart boobies: The 3rd circuit ruled en banc Aug. 5 that a PA school’s ban of “I heart boobies” bracelets was unconstitutional because such expression was about political or social issues and did not qualify as lewd speech.

The school had argued that the bracelets were “harmful and confusing” to middle school students, the Student Press Law Center reported. The SPLC also indicated the decision allowed schools to ban speech that is “plainly” lewd and cannot be seen has having a political or social message.

According to the Washington Post’s report, the school’s lawyer said the ruling leaves schools no guidance  for interpretation about how to interpret a growing amount of double-entendres they say will cause disruption.

Restrictive social media policy: The Lodi Unified, California, schools intend to enforce what students call a repressive social media policy requiring students in activities from athletics to clubs to sign before they can participate. The policy, according to a report from a Aug. 5 story, would allow school officials to punish students for social media posts made on or off school grounds, including retweets and likes that the school finds “inappropriate.”

The policy, reports, “The policy cracks down on threats towards other people and other bullying techniques. It allows schools to bench athletes or remove students from clubs if officials learn they have posted inappropriate, profane or sexual language on a social media site – or boasted or endorsed illegal or violent activity.”

The SPLC has called the policy “outlandishly illegal” and cites California laws to support student views.

The Lodi policy is explained more in this article from the Lodi News.

Additional resources:

• Federal court strikes down ‘I (heart) boobies’ ban,0,3957568.story 

•US Appeals court: PA school can’t ban ‘boobies’ bracelets because message isn’t lewd

•Appeals court says school can’t ban breast-cancer awareness bracelet 

•Third circuit appeals court backs students in ‘Boobies’ bracelet case

• #dislike: Lodi Unified students protest social media policy aimed at bullying

• Students railing against social media contract implemented by school district

* California students pro test social media contract banning ‘inappropriate’ posts

• Lodi Unified district social contract


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