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What would you want in terms of a protocol?

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In the ongoing saga that is the battle over Stevenson High (IL) journalism program, The Daily Herald recently editorially called for an intervention session. An IEP of sorts to plan protocols to heal the damaged relationship between school and students.

The online Merriam-Webster definition of a protocol: a code prescribing strict adherence to correct etiquette and precedence or a set of conventions governing the treatment  of data in an online communications system. I like process instead, but the definition is not the key.

Its substance is.

Such a protocol is, and has been, the goal of Illinois Journalism Education Association (JEA) state director Randy Swikle, the McCormick Freedom Project and the Illinois Press Foundation. In fact, a conference to attempt such protocols is planned for February.

Assuming the conference can succeed at what many, many others have tried (and we do want it to succeed for all journalism programs facing censorship) what would you see as the core  items in a protocol? If you and your students face censorship or prior review, what is the key concept or principle or action you think ought to be at the heart of a workable protocol? If you are review free, what is the core of that freedom others need to know about?

For me, such a protocol would have to answer key questions:
• How do we commonly define responsibility, as in free and responsible journalism?
• Whether we can reach an understanding on prior review and why it has no valid educational purpose
• Can we convince all involved that journalistic values match and precisely serve the best of a system’s educational mission statements?
• The words civility or respect are often bandied about. Can all sides really respect each other’s positions?

We would love to hear from you and how you envision a protocol that enables all parties to work out a sound educational solution.

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