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JEA is proud to sign
Statement in Support of Freedom of the Press

Posted by on Mar 9, 2017 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

“In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the government.”  Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black

As organizations committed to the First Amendment right of freedom of speech and the press, we are alarmed by the efforts of the President and his administration to demonize and marginalize the media and to undermine their ability to inform the public about official actions and policies.

Such efforts include the President’s refusal to answer questions posed by a reporter from CNN because the President asserts it promotes “fake news”; charges that the media “manipulated” images of the inauguration; false accusations that the media has covered up terrorist attacks; and repeated claims that the media is “failing” and “dishonest.”  All of this recently culminated in the President calling the New York Times, CBS, CNN, ABC, and NBC News “the enemy of the American People!” and in the exclusion of representatives of various media outlets from a press briefing.  In these and other examples, the President and his designees have attempted to villainize and discredit the press for any reporting he dislikes.  However, the job of the press is not to please the President but to inform the public, a function that is essential to democracy.

The expressions of disdain for the press and its role in democracy by federal officials send a signal to state and local officials.  In the aftermath of an election season that witnessed outright intimidation of journalists in communities around the country, there is a compelling need for highly placed federal officials to acknowledge the crucial role of a free press under our Constitution and the responsibility of government officials at all levels to respect it. In one chilling example, multiple individuals who identified themselves as journalists were arrested, detained, and charged with felonies while simply doing their job: reporting on Inauguration Day protests in Washington, D.C. Those arrests were made by local police and pursued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, both of which displayed an alarming lack of concern for fundamental constitutional rights.  The fact that those charges have since been dropped suggests that the arrests were unwarranted and highlights the need for our nation’s leaders to set national policy that unequivocally supports a free and independent press and the public’s right to know.

Our Constitution enshrines the press as an independent watchdog and bulwark against tyranny and official misconduct. Its function is to monitor and report on the actions of public officials so that the public can hold them accountable.  The effort to delegitimize the press undermines democracy, and officials who challenge the value of an independent press or question its legitimacy betray the country’s most cherished values and undercut one of its most significant strengths.

The First Amendment protects the right to protest, dissent, and petition government for a redress of grievances, but these rights cannot be exercised without a free press that provides information to the public.  Together, these rights represent the constitutionally sanctioned method for the public to oppose government policies and activities and to seek change.  The wisdom of this system can be seen in parts of the world where such a right does not exist, or is not honored, and violent opposition is the only available avenue to express opposition or remedy injustice.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms all efforts by elected and appointed officials to penalize, delegitimize, or intimidate members of the press.

March 2, 2017

Endorsed by:

Alliance for Community Media

Alliance for Media Arts + Culture

American Association of Law Libraries

American Booksellers Association

American Civil Liberties Union

American Civil Liberties of the

District of Columbia

American Copy Editors Society

American Library Association

American Society of Business

Publication Editors

American Society of Journalists and Authors

American Society of Magazine Editors

American Society of Media Photographers

American Society of News Editors

Arizona Press Club

Asian American Journalists Association

Associated Collegiate Press

Associated Press Media Editors

Associated Press Photo Managers

Association of Alternative Newsmedia

Association of American Editorial Cartoonists

Association of American University Presses

Association of Food Journalists

Association of Health Care Journalists

Association for Education in Journalism and

Mass Communication

Association of Research Libraries

Association of Schools of Journalism

and Mass Communication

Authors Guild

Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending

Dissent Foundation

CCTV Center for Media & Democracy

Center for Media and Democracy

Center for Responsive Politics

Center for Scholastic Journalism

College Media Association

Colorado Press Women

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Committee to Protect Journalists

Demand Progress

Education Writers Association

Freedom of the Press Foundation

Freedom to Read Foundation

Free Press

Free Speech Coalition

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Institute for Nonprofit News’

Investigative Reporters and Editors

Journalism and Women Symposium

Journalism Education Association

Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library

Local Independent Online News Publishers

Media Freedom Foundation

Media Law Resource Center

Military Reporters and Editors

National Association of Black Journalists

National Association of Hispanic Journalists

National Association of Science Writers

National Coalition Against Censorship

National Federation of Community Broadcasters

National Press Foundation

National Press Photographers Association

National Scholastic Press Association

National Society of Newspaper Columnists

National Writers Union

Native American Journalists Association

New England First Amendment Coalition

North American Agricultural Journalists

Online News Association

OpentheGovernment.org

PEN America

People For the American Way Foundation

Project Censored

Radio Television Digital News Association

Reporters Committee for Freedom

of the Press

Reporters Without Borders

Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics

and Law

Student Press Law Center

Sunlight Foundation

The Media Consortium

The NewsGuild-CWA

Tully Center for Free Speech

Unity: Journalists For Diversity

Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts

Washington-Baltimore News Guild

Women’s Media Center

Woodhull Freedom Foundation

 

Additional Endorsers:

City and Regional Magazine Association

Community of Literary Magazines and Presses

New York Financial Writers’ Association

Overseas Press Club

Small Press Distribution

The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute

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Let the education start here

Posted by on Feb 12, 2010 in Blog, News | 0 comments

The Feb. 11 posting on CODEWORDS,  the Society of Professional Journalists Ethics Committee blog, calls for “massive public education” about what constitutes “real news” and why such content is necessary for “an effective democracy.”

Author Paul LaRocque points out the “period of change” media are now experiencing will not be over soon. But now is the time all major groups like SPJ, ASNE, APME and RTDNA should launch a campaign to educate the public about NEWS, real news. He says they must “show the public the difference between noise and information.”

Why not add all those other alphabet-soup scholastic media organizations to the list? JEA, NSPA, CSPA plus Quill and Scroll and the Center for Scholastic Journalism? Where better to start educating for understanding and appreciating news than in our schools? How better to do that than with student newspapers, newsmagazines, yearbooks, broadcast outlets and news Web sites that allow students to use their voices and experience democracy before they graduate?

SPJ, we want to sign up for the cause.

Candace Perkins Bowen, MJE

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Text of JEA letter to Stevenson admins, links to overall coverage

Posted by on Nov 30, 2009 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

In response the ongoing prior review situation and restraint at Stevenson High in Lincolnshire, Illinois, JEA President Jack Kennedy recently sent school officials the following letter. Links to Chicago area coverage of the situation follow the letter:

Dr. Twadell,

I am a long-time admirer of Stevenson High School, having read numerous scholarly articles by faculty members on Professional Learning Communities and Advanced Placement courses, having followed “The Statesman” for over 20 years, and even having visited your campus just three years ago. I have always imagined Stevenson as a bastion of academic excellence, an example of the comprehensive American public high school at its very best.

Events involving “The Statesman” over the past year have certainly rattled that perception. I have no standing to get into particulars of how events have unfolded, but to have a second instance of the school administration and board leadership coming down on the side of squelching discussion and debate in a newspaper that has a long history of being an open forum for student expression is deeply troubling.

Garnering national attention is certainly not something new for Stevenson, but that this national attention is now so negative must also trouble you. I represent the national organization that supports scholastic journalism educators, and their students by extension, and I hope you will believe me when I say that your school is rapidly becoming the symbol of censorship in American schools. Instead of discussions about the progressive curriculum and fine instruction at the school, journalism educators from across the country are now discussing extraordinary pressure being applied to faculty advisers and administrative attempts to act as “super editors.” This micromanaging has no end. If someone outside the classroom has the power to approve or deny the mere coverage of certain issues, is there any doubt that we eventually find assistant principals correcting spelling, asking for more sources, and quibbling over how a photograph is presented?

Imagine applying the same sort of micromanaging to a football coach, with each play call being approved by some assistant athletic director sitting in the press box. That would be intolerable. Imagine threatening to simply cancel the next football game due to a poor performance by the team last week. In fact, imagine demanding absolute perfection from any sports team or course in the school. That sort of school climate would be equally intolerable.

I hope we can agree that our job, from board members to administration to classroom instructors, is to help our students improve each day, which presupposes that they are not perfect now. Will mistakes be made as we all work to produce valuable citizens? Of course. We will regret them. We will make adjustments. But we will not turn our backs on our young people, even when they disappoint.

The Journalism Education Association has consistently supported student free expression rights over its 85 years, but the association also advocates an adviser code of ethics, as well as distributing positions on photo manipulation, use of copyrighted materials, and Internet expression to our membership. In other words, the association advocates for responsible journalism in a broad array of areas. JEA stands ready to provide support and expertise to anyone involved in disputes over student expression. I sincerely hope you will not hesitate to contact John Bowen, JEA’s student press rights commission chair, Linda Puntney, our executive director, or me if we can be of any assistance.

I would like to think that, ultimately, we agree on the importance of student expression as part of the high school experience.

I ask that Stevenson High School return to its former status as a school where students come first, and where free, open, and responsible discussion of even the most sensitive issues is encouraged.

Coverage of the situation:

• Stevenson High officials halt publication of Statesman
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-stevenson-school-paper-20-nov20,0,1175320.story

• Students say district forced them to publish
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/chi-high-school-newspaper-25-nov

• Stevenson High orders students to publish
http://www.dailyherald.com/story/comments/?id=339605#storycomments

• Presses roll at Stevenson, without offending stories
http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2009/11/presses-roll-at-stevenson-high—-without-offending-stories.html

• Student newspaper is a lot leaner, less controversial
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-stevenson-censored-26nov26,0,5752444.story?obref=obnetwork

• Controversial Stevenson student newspaper released
http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=339713

• Muzzling students
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/chi-1126edit2nov26,0,6053750.story

• Stevenson High to students: publish or perish
http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/dennis-byrne-barbershop/2009/11/stevenson-high-to-j-students-publish-or-perish.html

• SPJ blog by David Cuillier
http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/foi/

• Il high school students face censorship
http://blogs.spjnetwork.org/campus/

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