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Tips for reaching out to communities
for info on student free expression

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Foundations_mainSteps students and advisers can use to help others understand the importance and need for student and free student expression
With new legislation, or attempts to pass it, comes the need for ways to engage those who would support it. The ways can run from concept to concrete and can be delivered in many approaches with details determined locally.

  • Convert or update your editorial policy so it reflects your public forum status and explain why that status is important
  • Know the law in your state and have policy and practice correspond to it
  • Know your school board policies and know how to bring them into line with changes in state law
  • Hold a forum for your community/administrators/students to share information. Student media leaders could also invite questions and provide guidance
  • Establish a strong network of alumni, parents and community members to help spread the value of free student expression and to assist you with problems
  • Prepare an op-ed piece for your community media about the importance of free student media
  • Maintain an active and informed voice opposing censorship wherever it occurs
  • Blog what your students will do, as protected by a state free expression law, to prevent fear of irresponsible journalism. This could include discussion of media mission, policy, decisions, ethical guidelines and staff manual process
  • Endorse the use of adult blogs and social media to show now that students have freedom of expression they will uphold standards of journalistic responsibility.
  • Don’t self-censor. Know what to publish that is meaningful content, and how and why to do so effectively
  • Empower your students, through their decision-making, to practice socially responsible journalism and to know the difference between sound and unsound journalism so they can better teach their communities
  • Invite the various groups into your newsroom to see students at work
  • Explain what terms like forum, etc., mean and how they will work with students making decisions
  • Develop Talking Points on the educational and civic values of free student expression
  • Create a press release based on a model release in this package
  • Stress social responsibility across platforms in journalism: truth, accuracy , content and completeness
  • Use the Panic Button to reach JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee if you need additional assistance
  • Remember three additional points:

–Your credibility as student media rests not on Hazelwood and review, but on journalistically responsible, ethical and complete reporting

–Journalism is at the core of democracy. If students learn that control trumps freedom because of decisions like Hazelwood and its practices, then democracy crumbles, bit by bit

–Communities cannot be informed, or act upon the information they have if it is limited, controlled or distorted by prior review or censorship

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