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Hold the agenda

Posted by on May 10, 2020 in Blog | 0 comments

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When information changes rapidly, give the public balance and verification to act on

by Stan Zoller, MJE

During the onslaught of media coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing reporters have been doing is meticulously checking the facts surrounding the outbreak, especially data emanating from the White House.

Student journalists need to follow the same standards as professional journalists. However, it is essential reporting is not only verified, but also balanced. 

As news about the pandemic seemingly changes hourly, reporters need to be vigilant in not just taking the word of a single source with a specific view, especially when details about the outbreak have a political overtone.

Welcome to a crisis in an election year. 

It seems clear that White House officials are not happy when counter points of view are reported by news organizations. The reality is, however, news consumers want and need to hear multiple sides of the story.

As news about the pandemic seemingly changes hourly, reporters need to be vigilant in not just taking the word of a single source with a specific view, especially when details about the outbreak have a political overtone.

While the facts, such as number of tests, deaths and new cases are quantifiable, explanations about data need additional sources, preferably those independent of ties to current or previous administrations.

Mainstream media has done an excellent job in seeking out researchers at major medical centers and universities for independent data. These sources augment your reporting through their independent research.  

It is, however, important to cite any underwriting they may be getting from corporations or foundations as this could skew the independence if the support is connected to a market or political strategy.

But what if there’s not a major medical research facility in proximity to your school? Seeking out experts near your school who can explain data, guidelines and other questions related to COVID-19 will add an excellent dimension to your reporting.

Not only will this give you independent sources, but it will also give you an opportunity to localize, if not hyper-localize, your coverage. While you want to keep your pandemic coverage balanced and independent, the same is true for coverage about political issues related to outbreaks.

It’s also important to make sure comments about the Administration’s handling of COVID-19 in the United States are balanced by comments from politicians on both sides of the aisle.

This is true not only for state legislators, but also for county and municipal officials as well.

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Finding and using copyright-free artwork

Posted by on Apr 24, 2020 in Blog | 0 comments

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Free License clip art attached. Image attribution required: https://www.vecteezy.com/

by Susan McNulty, CJE, The Stampede and The Hoofbeat adviser, J.W. Mitchell High School, Trinity, Florida

As scholastic journalism programs moved from classroom to homes this spring, students and advisers adjusted to a virtual newsroom. Just a few of the success stories of scholastic journalism across the country include Scarsdale High School’s MaroonThe Diamondback at the University of Maryland, and the Granite Bay Gazette at Granite Bay High School.

Yet student journalists confined to their homes lack the opportunity to capture photos to accompany their stories. They face the challenge of finding appropriate, copyright-free images and artwork to attract readers. Fortunately, free online sources exist to find the eye-catching artwork necessary to gain reader’s attention, while still observing copyright laws and providing proper attribution.

Here are four sources for copyright-free images and artwork for use by the public that do not require creation of an account, as well as links to additional sources and lessons that could be adapted for distance learning.

Google Advanced Image Search

Description: “When you do a Google Search, you can filter your results to find images, videos or text you have permission to use. To do this, use an Advanced Search filter called ‘usage rights’ that lets you know when you can use, share or modify something you find online.”

Directions: Fill in the blanks to complete your search. Select usage rights appropriate to meet your needs.

Google’s disclaimer: “Note: Before reusing content, make sure that its license is legitimate and check the exact terms of reuse. For example, the license might require that you give credit to the image creator when you use the image. Google can’t tell if the license label is legitimate, so we don’t know if the content is lawfully licensed.”

Google’s disclaimer: “Note: Before reusing content, make sure that its license is legitimate and check the exact terms of reuse. For example, the license might require that you give credit to the image creator when you use the image. Google can’t tell if the license label is legitimate, so we don’t know if the content is lawfully licensed.”

CC Search

Description: “CC Search is a tool that allows openly licensed and public domain works to be discovered and used by everyone. Creative Commons, the nonprofit behind CC Search, is the maker of the CC licenses, used over 1.4 billion times to help creators share knowledge and creativity online.”

Directions: Use keywords to search for the artwork you need. On the left side, click Licenses and choose CC0 for “no rights reserved.”

Vecteezy

Description: “High quality vector graphics with worry-free licensing for personal and commercial use.”

Directions: Use keywords to search for the artwork you need. On the left side, limit your search to Free License. Follow instructions for downloading and providing attribution if required

Pixabay

Description: “A vibrant community of creatives, sharing copyright free images and videos. All contents are released under the Pixabay License, which makes them safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist – even for commercial purposes.”

Directions: Use keywords to search for the photograph you need. Click on the photo of your choice. Follow instructions for downloading and providing attribution if required.

Additional Resources: 

Student Press Law Center Student media guide to copyright law

10 Best Websites for Public Domain Images

High-res public domain photos that are 100% free

by Stacy Fisher

Find free-to-use images on Google

JEA Curriculum Lessons:

Understanding copyright and creative commons

SPLC media law presentation: copyright

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Basic lessons for teachers to use during online learning

Posted by on Apr 5, 2020 in Blog | 1 comment

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by Lori Keekley, MJE

Several members of the Scholastic Press Rights Committee developed some lessons for advisers to use with their journalism students. The lessons are intended to be asynchronous basic introductions. The goal is to introduce students to the content and provide resources they then can examine further. 

The lessons include information on the First Amendment, copyright, libel, staff manual creation, how to choose a forum concept, prior review and some situational legal and ethical considerations. 

First Amendment — Freedom of Speech rights, especially when it comes to students in any sort of student publication, can be very complex, but there are some overall principles that can lead to a solid understanding of the basics. This lesson provides details and background on what rights student journalists generally possess, gives resources for understanding how any local policies affect those rights and supplies scenarios and links to promote further discussion and involvement.

Copyright — This online lesson helps students independently learn the basics of copyright law and the exceptions to it. After a brief tutorial, students will then either draw or create an online infographic explaining what they have learned. 

Libel — This online lesson guides students through the basics of libel law and the specifics of how it applies to real-world situations. It includes a brief instructional video, a quiz for understanding, and a discussion/writing prompt.

Manual — Staff manuals provide student journalists with resources and guidance during times of need. Now is the perfect time to reevaluate (and review) your current guidelines — and maybe even policies. These virtual conversations will not only help students understand what to do, but also what they may want to examine for future. 

Forum status –– This online lesson guides students through the basics of forum status for student media and the specifics of how it applies to student media. A statement of forum status is an essential part of a staff manual.

Prior review and restraint –– This online lesson guides students through the basics of prior review and prior restraint and the specifics of how it applies to student media. Almost every national journalism education group and professional journalism organization opposes prior review and restraint as having little to no educational value. A position on prior review is an essential part of a staff manual.

Legal and ethical scenarios — Teachers could do this as one scenario per day unit or sprinkle them throughout many weeks while addressing other areas as well. Topics covered include both legal and ethical concerns such as copyright, photo ethics, basic reporting, takedown requests, etc.

If you have any questions, please contact Lori Keekley

Other contributing committee members:

John Bowen, MJE, Kent State University (OH)

Lori Keekley, MJE, St. Louis Park High School (MN)

Matthew Smith, CJE, Fond du Lac High School (WI)

Kristin Taylor, CJE, The Archer School for Girls (CA)

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Cutting through the ‘New Normal’

Posted by on Mar 30, 2020 in Blog | 0 comments

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Identifying what is credible, in context and complete

by John Bowen, MJE

As the hours turn into days and the days turn into weeks, the amount of information piles up next to the growing stack of conflicting ideas and ways to deal with COVID-19. Will Chloroquine be the right type of medicine? How much time should people stay in homes? When, or if, does quarantine harm the American economy?

Although your journalism students might not tackle these topics, some will deal with the same real information, reporting on the local crisis and the dis- and misinformation attached to topics like this.

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School buildings close and yearbook deadlines loom

Posted by on Mar 26, 2020 in Blog | 0 comments

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by Susan McNulty, CJE The Stampede and The Hoofbeat adviser J.W. Mitchell High School, Trinity, Florida

What a shock when COVID-19 escalated quickly from a virus in China to a threat that brought about a near total shutdown of life as we know it. And what is a yearbook adviser to do, when empty pages intended for spring sports, clubs and organizations sit waiting for photos that will never develop?

As a yearbook adviser at a big school with a big yearbook (416 pages) I am grappling with those issues now, just like many fellow advisers across the country.

Image from CDC

If your students publish online or still have time to revise and update the yearbook before your final deadline, remember to keep coverage of the pandemic local by finding out how to make the COVID-19 story relevant to your readers.

Was the NJROTC team already at the airport headed to nationals, only to learn that the competition was cancelled? Was the softball team undefeated when the season abruptly ended? What about those journalism students who had been looking forward to JEA/NSPA in Nashville?

How did they respond to the cancellations? What did students do instead? How did everyone adjust to online learning?

Free resources exist to help you and your staff as you report on the virus. Social media proves valuable when reaching students as they shelter in place.

The Student Press Law Center has compiled resources for journalism teachers and student journalists, including guides to covering the pandemic remotely.

Yearbook publishers can be excellent resources for coverage ideas and communication information, so reach out to your representative for guidance.

The Student Press Law Center has compiled resources for journalism teachers and student journalists, including guides to covering the pandemic remotely.

And remember to follow all copyright laws when using graphics in your reporting. The CDC provided graphics free to download and use.

Resources:

https://www.cdc.gov/media/subtopic/images.htm

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