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The hits never stop coming

The hits never stop coming
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Scholastic journalism’s focus this year is and should be on the 25th anniversary of Hazelwood v Kuhlmeier and the issues it helped spawn, from outright censorship to elimination of programs and teachers.Next year brings two notable anniversaries, both of  on the results of censorship and other issues that limited – and continue to limit – journalism programs around the country.

Next year brings two notable anniversaries, both on the results of censorship and other issues that limited – and continue to limit – journalism programs around the country.hazelwoodcolor

“Captive Voices,” published in 1974, is out of print, but available on Amazon. It will be 40 years since this expose first helped the public become aware of censorship and attitudes that limited student expression, and pointed to the importance of journalism education in America’s schools.

This study also brought about the Student Press Law Center, journalism education’s foremost legal support for teachers, students and communities in their search for free expression and civic engagement.

“Death By Cheeseburger,” published in 1994, out of print but available online here, focused on the health of American’s scholastic journalism programs 20 years after “Captive Voices.” Created around censorship of a story on school cafeteria food, the book included examination of scholastic journalism in much the same approach as “Captive Voices.” It marked the real beginning of commercial media putting forth resources to study, as well as improve, scholastic journalism on many levels.

Careful reading – and we all should revisit these books – will reveal issues fought 40 and 20 years ago still exist and still demand our attention as journalism educators.

We note these studies today because we must remain vigilant about the issues they raised.

• Advisers continue to lose their jobs for a myriad of reasons. For example, in Illinois, an adviser was RIFed (reduction in force) because of finances, the board said. The adviser says differently. His situation is certainly not the only one. For more information, go here and here. For information about a California adviser fearing retaliation, go here.

• Complaints about journalistic coverage and content continue as well. At Mountain View, Calif., students published a section on teen sex issues and some members of the community raised intense objection. Pro-student speakers and opponents discussed the issue at a board meeting. To date, school officials support the students right to make content decisions.

For information, see:
Mountain View High School student newspaper’s sex stories raise parent ire
Debate over sex education column defines us
High school paper’s sex and relationships article stirs up controversy

Because the hits like these keep coming, we cannot become complacent. We must celebrate and support those who contribute to our successes.

The Student Press Law Center received an Education Writer’s Association second place national award for “FERPA Fact” in the Best Blog category by a nonprofit or advocacy organization.

Frank LoMonte, in an email to the SPLC’s Advisory Council, said, “When we created FERPA Fact, we thought we were doing something pretty cool — leveraging the power of humor to get people talking about a serious problem that is in need of reform. We are pleased that others agree.”

We applaud the SPLC for being an unparalleled leader in scholastic journalism’s fight of this ongoing battle that shows no signs of ending.

 

 

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