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Panic button!

Posted by on Oct 8, 2012 in Featured | 0 comments


If you are a JEA member or students of a JEA member who need assistance concerning censorship issues, use the panic button to generate an online form to fill out explaining your situation.

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Need help with censorship issues?
Press the Panic Button!

Posted by on Mar 9, 2012 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Commission (SPRC) has set up a uniform process to help advisers – and students – who seek advice about handing censorship or other legal issues.

The Panic Button.

The Panic Button is an online reporting tool to collect information from those experiencing some type of censorship.

When an adviser or student uses the Panic Button to submit information, designated SPRC members receive notification. This sets in motion a series of responses following a checklist system. In no way will the commission direct the fight against censorship, but each person has a different course of action in supporting the adviser and students while offering suggestions and resources specific to that situation.

As JEA vice president and Commission member Sarah Nichols reported in an email to state and regional directors and board members,  “We [a Press Rights Commission subcommittee that developed the process] focused on four key goals:
• A consistent method of reporting
• A process that works quickly
• A tool for collecting data
• A way to avoid overlap and prevent harm.”

Here’s who gets involved and how:
When the adviser hits the panic button and files a report, he or she instantly gets a check sheet with steps to take – like “Take a deep breath — you have support” and “Keep a paper trail.” A student can hit the Panic Button, too, and the check sheet he or she gets is a little different, including, “Contact the Student Press Law Center,” and “Get parental and other student support.” That request for assistance goes to six SPRC members, who quickly respond.

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Need help with censorship issues? Press the Panic Button!

Posted by on Mar 9, 2012 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Those looking for guidelines to prepare state groups to pass free expression legislation now have a draft document package to work with.

The Scholastic Press Rights Commission has completed a draft version of its Blueprint for Success: Promoting Scholastic Right Rights Legislation, and makes that information available in time for the JEA/NSPA Seattle convention.

The commission welcomes comments and suggestions before it publishes a final version in the coming months.

The Blueprint can be downloaded here or from a link in the right-hand menu under state legislation on this site.

Several additional legal and ethical sites are also worth noting:

Back issues of the Student Press Reports. Found at Issuu, this site gives everyone access to information from The SPLC Reports, the Student Press Law Center’s magazine, since it started. Well worth time to just browse or look for information to support local reporting.

The Panic Button. Found here, The Panic Button links you or your students directly to assistance and information about handling  an issue of censorship. Members of the Scholastic Press Rights Commission and 45Words students will respond quickly, offering suggestions and providing information as your students and others plan a strategy to handle censorship.

The forum map. This map, a project of The Center for Scholastic Journalism,  is a list of schools the Center has determined to be open forums for student expression, either by policy or practice. The purpose of the map is to enable journalism programs seeking to become open forums to have models and contacts to assist in the quest.

Application to be on the forum map. This writable PDF is your way to apply to have your school recognized as an forum by policy or practice.

Certification map. This map shows requirements for teaching journalism in 49 of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and links to each state’s department of education.

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Panic Button

Posted by on Jan 7, 2010 in | 0 comments


If you are a journalism teacher, student media adviser or scholastic media/journalism student who needs assistance concerning censorship issues, use the panic button above to generate an online form to explain your situation. This will go to a Student Press Rights Commission member who will assist you quickly and notify others in your state so they can offer assistance. This outreach capability is a direct result of JEA’s Adviser Assistance Program and is designed to combat censorship issues advisers and students might face.

Resources for Panic Button

• A conversation about prior review
• A process for developing editorial policies that mean something

• JEA model editorial policy

• JEA Adviser Code of Ethics

• Guidelines, recommendations for advisers facing prior review

• Lessons on handling prior review; lessons on designating your publication as a public forum

• Questions to ask those who prior review

Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism

Quick ways to avoid the big C (censorship):

• Be accurate in your reporting is a key requisite for good reporting. The slightest error or omission or grammar mistake can persuade a reader the reporting is flawed. It can also give those who want to control reporting an opportunity to do so by citing obvious flaws. Your credibility is built on how accurate you can be. Prior review and censorship are only designed to limit or destroy accuracy.

• Be thorough and complete in your reporting as sometimes it is not enough to just present information but also to put that information in perspective. What seems like a single issue of point today might have a long history that completes the information audiences need to make informed decisions. Reporting can be slanted by omission as much as by viewpoint, so be thorough in finding all relevant information.

• Use multiple and credible sources to give all stakeholders a voice. Find the best and most credible resources – live and nonlive – to help tell and show all angles and all affected. Think ahead to what questions audiences might have and try to answer them all. All relevant viewpoints should have a voice. The more credible and reliable sources used, the more comprehensive and effective the reporting.

• Follow professional standards that include legal and ethical approaches that are defendable. Just because students can report a story does not mean they should; just because administrators can call for prior review and restraint (censorship) does not mean they should. Work to find common definitions of journalism, journalistic responsibility and accountability and then practice them.

• Think through the implications of what your students are reporting, how they are reporting it and why they are reporting it. It is the adviser’s job to help students think along these lines. Think of the possible danger points but instead of creating red lights empower green lights that support successful publication of information. Anticipate what challenges or questions various audiences might raise and know how to respond.

• Know your audience: Although no topic is automatically taboo, how the topic is covered should result from a knowledge of the audience, including their ages and cultural sensitivities.  A written description of the audience will help the student staff decide how to report the subject and help prioritize elements of coverage,  headlines, web teasers,  language use and graphic presentation of information.  For instance, how young is the youngest member of the audience?  Do not assume the audience shares staffers sense of humor, has consumed the same media staffers consume nor are as sophisticated.

Additional essential resources for legal and ethical information and guidance:

Student Press Law Center is the premier site for legal and ethical advice, detailed information and the ability to ask legal expert question. The information is vast, with soon-to-be-added lesson plan and teaching resources.

Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press is an excellent Web site and resource for a myriad of information about legal and ethical issues as well as reporting and information gathering issues.

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Posted by on Jan 17, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments


by John Bowen, MJE

While JEA condemns attack on the Capitol Jan. 6, it also urged journalism teachers and advisers to continue facilitating fact-based journalism, especially of locally-related issues.

To help students and advisers with that coverage, The SPRC highlights information and ideas that can assist in exploring current events or national issues.

JEA commended journalism educators, president Sarah Nichols, MJE, said, for finding ways to engage students in class and through coverage.

“Courageous journalism informs us all and serves as a historical record. The reporting during and after such events underscores the importance of the work journalists do based on shared values of truth and justice,” Nichols said …”Knowing these actions were largely related to deep-rooted beliefs of hate and intolerance makes the attack all the more critical for us to address.”

Students, Nichols said, students have the right to cover the news; doing so is also their responsibility.

“JEA stands behind journalists exercising their First Amendment right to report and inform the public,” Nichols said. “Journalists must be able to do their jobs without fear of retribution or harm.”

Activities | lessons | and more

Legal issues covering protests

Covering controversy

If covering protests, note these points

Questioning authority

Riding out the storm should entail future planning

Protest and the First Amendment

Tools of truth/Sloppy reporting lessons

Stories students can best tell: Reporting protests, walkouts and marches

Covering insurrection: Covering Insurrection: News Frames, Word Choice, & Whose Story to Tell. (online, free workshop)

State capitols brace for right-wing violence; D.C. locks down ahead of inauguration

Pushed to the edge by the Capitol riot, people are reporting their family and friends to the FBI

Texas insurrectionist asks Trump for pardon

One last point. Student media prevented from covering, or prior reviewed by anyone outside the student media staff, on Jan. 6 related issues, please let the Student Press Law Center and us (the SPRC) know. Use the SPLC link and the Panic Button.

panic button
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