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Start the year strong while
promoting students’ press rights

Posted by on Sep 10, 2018 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Lindsay Coppens

The Harbinger Adviser, Algonquin Regional High School, Northborough, Mass.

Although we may want to jump right into the business of putting out the first print issue or filling the website with killer content, there are steps you as an adviser can take at the beginning of the year to help your publication’s staff start strong while fostering their independence. These steps all connect with communication and establishing good relationships.

• Have a meeting with your editors-in-chief and the school principal.

It’s always a shame and usually doesn’t bode well if the first interaction between editors and administration is a negative one. Start off the year with good communication and establish a good working relationship with your school’s administration. While you may act as a facilitator at the meeting (or hopefully  just sit back and listen to most of it), it would be best for the student editors, not the adviser,  to contact the administrator for this meeting. This emphasizes the principal and editors should be the ones directly communicating most of the time, not the adults.

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Accepting ads from competing organizations QT55

Posted by on Mar 28, 2018 in Blog, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Students who sell ads sometimes hesitate to solicit advertising from competing companies. They sometimes have a loyalty to one of their clients or they believe their clients will be frustrated if their competitor is also advertising in the same publication.

This is a good problem to have. Too many advertisers want to support your publication, and you should encourage a forum for advertising that is as robust as your editorial content. Sure, consider guidelines in terms of where ads from competing companies will be placed, but outside of that, create a guideline indicating that each of your advertisers will receive equal and fair treatment and have the same options for size and placement in your paper.

This is a standard practice in the commercial media industry. Competing stores, companies, politicians and organizations show up in the same newspaper, the same commercial block or in the same websites.

 Guideline:

The publication will solicit and accept ads from competing organizations and offer the same pricing and placement options to all organizations.

Social media post/question: What to do when two competing organizations want to advertise in your publication?

Stance: Just because an advertiser (even a long-term one) is in your publication does not mean other companies or organizations shouldn’t also have access to your community.

Reasoning/suggestions:  Frequently, two competing organizations will want to advertise in your publication. What do you do when you have two pizza franchises, two driving schools, two gas stations or Planned Parenthood and a right-to-life organization that want to advertise?

The best newspapers serve their community with an open exchange of ideas and information, and they should treat advertising the same way. Professional publications have always accepted ads from competing companies (department stores, grocery stores, car dealerships, and etc.) and your product should be no different.

Resources:

Student Media Guide to Advertising Law, SPLC

 

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Consider emotional impact as well as news values
when choosing images QT49

Posted by on Feb 7, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Visual Reporting | 0 comments

Censorship should not be an option

by Kristin Taylor
When the editors of the Panther Prowler, the student-run school newspaper for Newbury Park High School, decided to write
a feature article about teenagers having sex in 2015, they knew it was going to be controversial. The controversy wasn’t just about the content of the article, however — it was also about the image they paired with it, which appeared on the cover of their special edition magazine.

Since the article’s focus was the impact of limited sex education in and out of the classroom, the editors decided to use an iconic sex ed image: a condom on a banana.

Respecting the students’ freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment and California Education Code section 48907, administrators did not censor this feature. However, its publication led to an outcry in the parent community, many of whom believed the adults at the school should have censored it.

In an open letter to the community, editors Grace O’Toole and Courtney Brousseau explained their purpose in using this image.

While acknowledging that some felt the picture was “obscene or scandalous,” the editors argued, “It is the quintessential image of sex education. Moreover, it is a nurse-honored, military-practiced, and physician-approved method of teaching safe sex, and while it is not employed at NPHS, public schools across the nation model the proper method of practicing safe sex as a part of their official health curriculum. For this reason, we felt it reflected the angle of the article without sensationalizing the issue.”

The students also pointed out that those upset with adults at the school were missing the point. “It is important to note that while our adviser and administration did protect our guaranteed freedom of press, they did not produce or in any way endorse the magazine,” they wrote. “The decision to publish and distribute the magazine rested solely with the editors of the publication, not the adviser or the administration.”

O’Toole and Brousseau did not back down from their choice to use this image, but they did choose to take down the posters they had distributed to advertise the upcoming special edition. They also did not include the image when they published the article online.

“We maintain that [the images on the posters] were not obscene or pornographic. While they may have been suggestive, they were not revealing,” they wrote. “That being said, we did take [the posters] down several days before the distribution of the magazine. We didn’t want the buzz surrounding the posters to detract from our original intention of starting a productive dialogue and for that reason, we chose to focus on what is important – the article.”

This situation illustrates a few important takeaways about visual images and student journalism:

  • Just as with other forms of content, students should have final say over any image they choose to publish. Responsible editors should be ready to explain why they used the image if challenged by the member of the public, but they should not self-censor if they feel a controversial image is justified.
  • Student publications that operate as public forums for student voices provide some legal protection for adults and the school itself, as they operate separate from these entities.
  • Students should evaluate whether the impact of a controversial image will overwhelm the purpose of the reporting. If they feel the image might overshadow the message or is merely sensational, they may want to adjust accordingly.

Ultimately, students have a right to publish images along with their other content, but they should have a discussion about whether those images will hurt or help the main focus of their reporting when warranted. Having a consistent process and ethical guidelines helps student reporters to make good decisions about their images.

 

Quick Tip:

Visual images and censorship

Guideline:

Students should consider not only the news value of an image but also the emotional effect of the image on the audience. 

Social Media Post/Topic:

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, should journalists be 1,000 times more careful about them? And what if someone wants to censor one?

Stance:

Students should have ethical guidelines in their staff manual to guide their decisions about visual images and be able to explain the newsworthiness of any image they publish. Student editors should have final say in all content decisions.

Reasoning/suggestions:

Just as with other forms of content, students should have final say over any image they choose to publish. Student publications that operate as public forums for student voices provide some legal protection for adults and the school itself, as they operate separate from these entities.

Responsible editors should be ready to explain why they used the image if challenged by the member of the public, but they should not self-censor if they feel a controversial image is justified. Students should evaluate whether the impact of a controversial image will overwhelm the purpose of the reporting. If they feel the image might overshadow the message or is merely sensational, they may want to adjust accordingly.

When constructing a process for determining whether to publish an image, students should consider many questions, including:

  • is this image important and relevant to the story?
  • What makes it meaningful?
  • Will the audience understand the information conveyed without reading any accompanying text?
  • What story does it tell?
  • What story would others be able to get from that photo?
  • What, if any, warnings should accompany online content?
  • Is there an alternative, better, way to show the story?

Resources:

Visual ethics guidelines, Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism

Visual Journalism, NPR Code of Ethics

Lesson: To Print or Not to Print, Journalism Education Association

Lesson: A Picture Never Lies, Journalism Education Association

Lesson: When Journalists Err Ethically, Journalism Education Association

Lesson: Pushing Photo Editing Boundaries, Journalism Education Association

Lesson: With Freedom of the Press Comes Great Responsibility, Journalism Education Association

SPJ Code of Ethics, Society of Professional Journalists

NPPA Code of Ethics, National Press Photographers Association

Photojournalism ethics needs a reexamination, The Poynter Institute

Visual ethical guidelines join online, yearbook ethics, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee

Audio: Using Images from Social Media, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee Press Rights Minute

Audio: Ethics in Editing News Photos, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee. Press Rights Minute

 

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Who should be on student media editorial boards, make decisions? QT15

Posted by on Sep 26, 2017 in Blog, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Because student media are productions of student work, only students should be on editorial boards of student media. That would include the general manager and producers of broadcast media.

Generally, student editors make up editorial boards. Some may have student staffers attend and vote if so desired. Editorial board meetings can normally be open to the whole staff. Others can be invited to sit in and observe by invitation.

The process of deciding editorials should be outlined in ethical guidelines and detailed in staff manual procedures. Having only student editors make decisions reinforces the open forum status for your student media.

 

Guidelines/Key points/action

Because student media are productions of student work, only students should be on editorial boards of student media. That would include the general manager and producers of broadcast media.

Only students should have voting or decision-making roles for such media, although some programs have the adviser sit in on board discussions ex officio. It is not recommended to have administrators, other non-journalism faculty or community members on student media boards.

Stance

Generally, student editors make up editorial boards. Some may have student staffers attend and vote if so desired. Editorial board meetings can normally be open to the whole staff. Others can be invited to sit in and observe by invitation.

Generally, board members vote on staff editorials, controversial approaches and other items as decided locally. On editorial board votes, the majority generally rules. It is not a typical practice for the editor to have veto power.

Reasoning/suggestions:

This process should be outlined in ethical guidelines and detailed in staff manual procedures. Having only student editors make decisions reinforces the open forum status for your student media.

Related: 

These points and other decisions about mission statement, forum status and editorial policy should be part of a Foundations Package  that protects journalistically responsible student expression.

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Determine who owns student work
before publication starts QT19

Posted by on Sep 3, 2017 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

Absent a written agreement indicating otherwise, student journalists own the copyright to the works they create. Each media outlet should ensure it has clear policies in place for staff members and the publication that spell out ownership and the right of the publication to use student work

Deciding who owns content of student media should be an important decision for all platforms and programs. Contained within that decision are implications for the forum concept, how content can be used and by whom, and how staffs handle takedown demands.

 

Guidelines: Absent a written agreement indicating otherwise, student journalists own the copyright to the works they create. Each media outlet should ensure it has clear policies in place for staff members and the publication that spell out ownership and the right of the publication to use student work.

Question: Who owns the content of student media and why should this be a concern?

Stance: Advisers have asked questions about who should own the content of student media, what the possible options are and what steps are involved in the decision-making process.

Deciding who owns content of student media should be an important decision for all platforms and programs. Contained within that decision are implications for the forum concept, how content can be used and by whom, and how staffs handle takedown demands.

Reasoning/suggestions: Students, with input from advisers, should pick a solution that best fits their situation. The choices are students own rights to content with granting access to student media for its use or student media owns the content with access rights to students.

For multiple reasons, it is not a good idea to have the school own student media content.

Student media staffs should use suggested guidelines from the Journalism Education Association Scholastic Press Rights Committee and the Student Press Law Center to craft an ownership statement suitable for their program.

ResourcesWho owns student-produced content? Scholastic Press Rights Committee

Ownership of student content

Back to School: Who Owns What?, Student Press Law Center

Contribution to Collective Work, U.S. Copyright Office

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