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Tweet23: Social media use requires legal, ethical guides

Posted by on Feb 5, 2013 in Blog, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Projects, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Social media can be daunting. Know how journalism standards, legal and ethical principles apply. #25HZLWD

Social media are merely other tools in the arsenal of journalism. Social media offer student journalists much in the way of new approaches and coverage possibilities, but like all “new” communication tools of the past they also bring fear and unease. It is imperative that schools and their student media understand and rely on the “legacy” standards of professional journalism, legal and ethical. It is undeniable that new legal and ethical standards will develop, building on the old. Until they do, we can rely on what exists for essential guidance.hazelwoodcolor

More and more scholastic journalism programs rush to join the social media landscape, adding Twitter, Facebook and all types of other quick and digital ways to reach audiences with their coverage.

Some have even gone so far to call media prepared by non-journalists the fifth estate, replacing the fourth estate (to be henceforth called legacy media).

One has to wonder, though, whether the fourth and fifth estates will be that different, indeed, whether they should be that different.

The point, we must argue, is to keep and embellish the basics, the good, from the legacy media and surround it and enhance it with the multimedia approaches of the fifth estate.

In fact, we must also build our programs so they can embrace change and expand as new media emerges.

• Social Media Toolbox
• Social Media, the classroom and the First Amendment
• JEA online ethical guidelines



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Social Media Toolbox available to help those
considering, and using, social media in journalism

Posted by on Apr 3, 2012 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Marina Hendricks, a member of JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Commission, has developed a “Social Media Toolbox” for use by student journalists and their advisers.

The toolbox, available at, features 16 lessons on social media plus related resources. The lessons can be used as a unit or individually, depending on the needs of students, advisers and school publication programs.

As a unit, the lessons are designed to help student journalists and their advisers navigate the transition into using social media as part of their publication programs. The unit starts with ethical decision-making to help guide students through the process. It continues with exploration of reasons for using social media, consideration of how social media tools are employed by journalists, and evaluation of the school community’s use of social media through a survey.

Other lessons focus on legal issues, social media policies and roles, cyberbullying, reporting using social media, and tutorials for implementing popular tools such as Facebook and Twitter. The unit concludes by challenging students to design an educational program on social media for the school community.

This is a fantastic educational opportunity for students and teachers to determine the impact of social media in a scholastic journalism setting and for administrators and communities to see how they can support and enhance a journalistically strong – free and responsible – social media program.

About the author: Marina is senior manager of communications for the Newspaper Association of America in Arlington, Va. In a previous life, she ran a program for teen journalists sponsored by The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia. She also served as an adjunct faculty member for the University of Charleston, teaching an introductory journalism course. She completed the “Social Media Toolbox” as the final project for her master of arts in journalism education at Kent State University, under the supervision of Candace Perkins Bowen, John Bowen and Mark Goodman.
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Standing up for what is right in Missouri: stopping SB54

Posted by on Aug 30, 2011 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

So, Friday was a good day.

What Friday demonstrated was that when an injustice – and I know that sounds huge and the slightest bit pretentious – is done, some people are still willing to stand up and do what is right. And the silence from the sponsor of the bill and the complete about face by the governor should tell you all you need to know about this law.

The outcry from teachers – and particularly journalism advisers – in Missouri was a bit of a sight to behold.

Honestly, I think Missouri teachers’ reaction to this bill may have been a reaction to things that have happened in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana over the past year, where teachers have been put in the crosshairs by politicians. And much like in those cases – particularly Wisconsin and Ohio – politicians have learned a lesson the hard way: do not mess with teachers.

Because while we are impossibly busy preparing your – and our – children to be the leaders of tomorrow, we will absolutely, positively no longer stand for this.

Even more impressive was the reaction of students.

Cameron Carlson, a former student at Marquette High School in Chesterfield, Mo., created a Facebook group in the days proceeding its signing into law. In less than a month, it has almost 1,000 members.

Devan Coggan, a recent graduate of Kirkwood HS wrote a letter to her local representative detailing her thoughts on the matter, after posting it on her Tumblr blog.

Students from four high schools across Missouri participated in a Google+ hangout with Aurora Meyer, from the Missouri State Teachers Association, as part of a press conference for their coverage of the issue.

And I can’t even begin to count the number of tweets sent on this matter.

So, lessons to be learned?

First, is that the First Amendment and social media are powerful tools. By taking to Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, opponents of SB54 used a little bit of social media jujitsu to help propel this law back in Sen. Jane Cunningham’s face. The irony of all this makes me smile.

Teachers in all states must be vigilant of what is going on in their state legislatures. I heard about this bill in the middle of July, shortly before Gov. Jay Nixon signed it into law. In the current climate of what is going on in state legislatures across the country, teachers (and their unions, see below) need to be on the ball and prepared to act quickly and decisively when they are threatened, no matter the type of law.

Union members need to hold union leadership accountable. MSTA stepped up to the plate and did its job to represent its members by filing the suit that led to the the injunction against SB54. MNEA did so to a lesser extent, trying to work with Sen. Jane Cunningham, who crafted the law. Honestly though, the offending portions of SB54 shouldn’t have ever made it out of committee, much less to the governor’s desk. There have been several things MNEA has helped stall or kill that many teachers would argue were more important than this bill, but missing this patently ridiculous and obviously unconstitutional portion of this law is a big miss.

Finally, educators – and journalism educators in particular – deserve leadership from the media. All too many of the state’s papers weighed in on SB54 after the heavy work was done.

I appreciate the support of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Joseph News-Press and any other media outlets that have weighed in, but editorial pages are a place to lead. At least that’s what I teach my students.

The fact the state’s major papers maintained radio silence over the course of most of August is shameful, particularly on a First Amendment issue.

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Missouri SB54 a slap at teacher professionalism

Posted by on Aug 21, 2011 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Matt Schott

A slap in the face. And an unexpected one at that.

When I first read SB54, that was my reaction. And not a slap to my First Amendment rights, either, though I believe those rights are threatened by the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act and informs much of the anger over this from journalism educators.

No, to me, this was a slap in the face to my professionalism, my credibility, my trustworthiness.

In any profession, these are the qualities people try to build and nurture. With a swipe of his pen, what Gov. Jay Nixon (and to an extent State Sen. Jane Cunningham, who wrote the bill) did was wipe away those three things which I hold dear. Because what he did was cast teachers into the same category of respect generally reserved for criminals.

SB54 essentially said teachers were not fit to maintain a professional relationship with the students whom they have taken great steps to build and nurture relationships, no matter the medium. While I consider myself to be well-versed in the field of journalism, I consider myself (and most good educators) to be better in the field of connecting with students where they are most comfortable. Good educators work to make sure they have positive relationships with their students. More than anything, it is what makes us good educators.

What Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham have evidently forgotten is that private conversations happen all the time at school. On  Aug. 16, a Tuesday, I had no fewer than six private conversations with students. All of them were about things relating to education. Some were simple, like asking for the definition of a word. Others about projects that have been assigned.

These two public servants obviously don’t know much about the public they serve. They should watch this. Facebook is the most trafficked site on the Internet and high school students have driven that traffic almost since the site’s inception. As it says on the linked video: “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”

By seeking to take educators out of the social media equation, Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham have ensured Missouri students will “do social media” worse than students in the rest of the nation.

By seeking to take educators out of the social media equation, by not allowing educators to teach and model what a positive social media presence looks like, Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham have made it that much harder for Missouri students to succeed in the digital marketplace.

By seeking to take educators out of the social media equation, Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham have taken away an avenue – sometimes the only avenue they feel safe in – for troubled students to communicate with someone they trust: their teacher.

Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham did have some successes with this bill, perhaps in spite of themselves.

By seeking to take educators out of the social media equation, Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham have drawn the attention of the nation to the educational practices in our state and shown the nation that they, at least, don’t believe in the job Missouri teachers are doing. Thanks for your support.

By seeking to take educators out of the social media equation, Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham have succeeded in making a difficult job more difficult. Not being able to communicate with trusted students in a medium they feel comfortable in inhibits the learning and success of all students. Thanks for the extra work, we need more of it.

And finally, by seeking to take educators out of the social media equation in Missouri, Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham have angered a very vocal and active political force: educators. Make no mistake, teachers in Missouri are upset (to use a school appropriate word) by this law. Teachers in Missouri are conferring about this law. And soon, very soon, I hope teachers in Missouri will be working with wonderful organizations like the Student Press Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union, to battle and overturn this ill-informed, poorly written and insulting law. You’re welcome. By giving the educators of Missouri a little bit more work to do, we’ll help you learn through experience and hopefully, as you reflect upon this once SB54 is overturned, you’ll have learned something.

All in a day’s work.

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Separating news from views: Does social media need a new player? Part 3

Posted by on Mar 28, 2011 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Determining what communities want and need in social media coverage seems to have generated a new media role: community manager.

According to information in a March 21, 2011, article by Ben LaMothe, Why Newspapers Need Community Managers on the 10000 words blog, the term may offer a way to brand online news coverage.

LaMothe cites the Econsultancy blog for the term and its use as a way to engage the community, set overall strategy and create branding for the media’s products.

Modifying such a role in online scholastic media might serve two essential purposes: differentiating between objective and subjective content and helping establish a “brand” for student online publications. A community manager might develop strategy for reaching and involving the communities and making daily updates: performing the medium’s public relations.

Some schools using the concept of community manager haven’t yet gotten anticipated results.

Meghan Morris, editor-in-chief of The Spoke in Pennsylvania, said her publication has an “operations manager,” but the role has not worked as she would have liked. She said she has found it hard to surrender the role. “In the future, this idea of ‘community manager,'” she said, “would be part of the web director or business manager’s role. Dealing with irate parents, facilitating focus groups or other ombud duties will remain the role of the EIC.”

Ted Noelker, managing editor of multimedia at Francis Howell Central in Missouri, said his publication launched its website and communications editor position at the same time to handle promotional aspects. He, too, said, he ended up doing much of the work of the position. “It is such an open-ended job,” he said. “It’s hard to cover all they need to so without being too narrow or too broad. It’s an important role, one that’s been tougth to fill.

LaMothe called the community manager a “must-have position” for a news organization. “The comments, your Facebook page and your Twitter page are all public-facing, and they deal directly with your readers on a daily basis,” he writes. He also says the position must be separate from the newsroom.

Anaika Miller of Foothill Technology High School in California agreed with Morris and Noelker about issues. “It has just become easier for me to handle public relations,” she said. “This works for our site, but in a professional newspaper, I bet the position could be utilized better if it were somebody’s focus/only job.”

All three referred to the position as one of public relations. Miller said no one at her school solely maintains the job because the workload is too light.

Minnesota adviser Jeff Kocur said the community manager role was similar in his school, with the editor using her Facebook status to push stories direct people to the publication’s site. He said he would consider adding a community manager position to his staff. “This person would be responsible for outreach and public relations in addition to writing stories and doing the exchange papers,” he said. “They would send out twitter feeds and facebook updates to push people to our site and manage online reader surveys. This would be an editor-level position, and they would still write stories.”

These staffs perceive a need for such a position, much as LaMothe and others urge. How the position is utilized, who fills it and what its ultimate role is, however, remain a work in progress.

Historically, a public relations role has been a hard one for scholastic media. Creation of a “community manager” might enable more community involvement as journalism grows in its use of social media. How that position develops and how it is differentiated from news reporting should be an ongoing discussion.

Ideally, a  “community manager” role should be cleanly separated from that of news journalist, including separate sources and posts for public relations and news. To ensure the public understands journalism’s varied roles in a democracy, we must be transparent about what we say and what information from each source means.

Accomplishing that may not be quickly achieved as scholastic journalism increases its use of digital media. Clarifying the role of a “community manager” or similar position is a step toward scholastic journalism’s successful use of social media.

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