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Commission selects new 45Word student partners

Posted by on Aug 20, 2012 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism | 0 comments

JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Commission has selected its new class of Student Partners for the 45words initiative. Please join us in welcoming these outstanding students as they work as a team to spread First Amendment awareness and connect with high school journalists around the country.
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Georgia student journalists walk out over content control. Are there lessons for scholastic journalists as well?

Posted by on Aug 17, 2012 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Student editors at the Red & Black, independent student newspaper of the University of Georgia, resigned this week to protest what they called concerns about the loss of student’s editorial authority. Might their situations be similar to scholastic media where advisers or administrators make decisions and dictate direction?

Without trying to dictate the direction of discussions and possible actions, I assembled a Storify document with some information about the situation.

If anything, the details of the student resignation and walkout can be precursors to discussions that could – and should – take place next year about the educational and social value of 25 years of student expression and eecision-making following the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier U.S. Supreme Court decision.

After all, student media should signify student direction, critical thinking and decision-making.

As you start classes this week and next, take time to work with students to consider the past, present and future roles of student media and how to make them better not only for students involved and not, but also for our democracy. The Red & Black situation and others bring real-life impact to that discussion.

You can access the Storify material here.

Meanwhile, to keep up to date with additional current information, follow AdGo (Adam Goldstein) on Twitter, the Student Press Law Center on Facebook and Frank LoMonte on Twitter.

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The Social Media Toolbox

Posted by on Aug 15, 2012 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Projects, Scholastic Journalism | 0 comments


Expanding your student media into social media this year? The Social Media Toolbox might have the right tools.

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Start the year by promoting journalism skills,
not just defending your programs

Posted by on Aug 13, 2012 in Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


by Fern Valentine

Sadly, many journalism advisers are having to defend their programs in an educational environment that concentrates on basic skills that are needed to pass national or state tests. However, employers interviewed across the country are looking for applied skills that they say are not found in most high school or even college graduates.

In “Are They Really Ready to Work?” employers listed clearly the applied skills they want in new entrants to the 21st Century U.S. workforce, and 100 percent of them are integral parts of a student-run publications program.

They define “applied skills” as those skills that enable new entrants –recently hired graduates from high school, two-year colleges or technical schools and four-years colleges– to use the basic knowledge acquired in school to perform in the workplace.

The study’s findings indicate applied skills on all educational levels trump basic knowledge and skills such as Reading Comprehension and Mathematics. They say that while basic skills are still fundamental to any worker’s ability to do the job, applied skills are “very important” to succeed in the workplace.

Among the most important skills cited by employers were Oral and Written Communications, Teamwork/Collaboration, Professional/Work Ethic, and Critical Thinking/Problem Solving.

Other necessary skills listed were: Information Technology Application, Diversity, Leadership, Lifelong Learning/ Self Direction, Creativity/Innovation, and Ethics/ Social Responsibility.

Sounds like a great journalism curriculum to me.

These skills are clearly developed and strengthened in the publications classroom where student editors lead the staff.

By working as a team producing school publications, students learn practical lessons in communication and in civic responsibility. They write for an audience of their peers instead of for their teachers. They research by interview rather than just by internet searches, developing oral communication skills not taught in other classes. They develop critical thinking skills, learn to meet deadlines, and work within a budget as part of a team.

Presenting their work in a graphically attractive manner is another unique skill practicing the very technology employers want and need.

Even more importantly, students learn first hand the civic lessons our forefathers intended when they built a free press into our democracy.

Project-based learning provided by working on a publications staff clearly prepares students for the working world. These skills are enhanced when the students themselves solve the problems and take responsibility for what they publish. The more involved they are, the more they learn.

Working on a publications staff, led by trained student editors, clearly prepares students for future careers, not just a journalism career, but any career. Employers say over and over that they want to employ people with the skills students clearly learn on publications staffs.

See for the full 64 page report compiled by four organizations jointly surveying over 400 employers across the United States.

School districts across the country are cutting journalism programs from their curriculum. They clearly don’t realize the enhanced learning opportunity they provide.

Other districts restrict those learning opportunities because they are afraid to let students practice some of the skills employers say they want like ethics, social responsibility, self direction and leadership. Ironically, that restriction not only inhibits learning, it opens the district to greater liability.

Advisers are fighting to retain their programs when school districts seem to emphasize only classes that “teach to the test.” Advisers need to stress that along side the obvious writing skills, publications offer unique opportunities to learn lifelong skills that will help their students succeed no matter what career path they follow.

Advisers need to stress that students learn by doing and may need to call on former students, now successful in their chosen careers, to write administrators and school board members about the importance of the unique skills they learned by working on a student-run publications staff.

Only a few members of publications staffs will seek journalistic careers, but they will all be more informed consumers of the media and understand its essential role in a democracy.

When students are allowed to work responsibly as a team with the freedom to make creative and innovative choices, they learn and practice all the applied skills employers in all fields seek in their work force.

Districts need to recognize and encourage open forum publication programs not restrict or eliminate them. Advisers need to continue to make administrators and school boards aware of the unique learning opportunities a student-run publication can provide.

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Clicking ‘like’ on Facebook

Posted by on May 5, 2012 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


By HL Hall

Clicking “like” on Facebook is not protected by the First Amendment, according to U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson’s April 30 ruling in Bland v. Roberts in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Virginia.

Deciding what clicking “like” means played a role in Jackson’s decision in a case involving six individuals who said Hampton Sheriff B. J. Roberts fired them for supporting an opponent in his 2009 re-election bid. The workers sued claiming heir First Amendment rights had been violated. At least one of the workers had “liked” the Facebook page of Jim Adams, Roberts’ opponent.

Judge Jackson said clicking “like” was not expressive speech since those clicking “like” are not actually writing a statement to be posted on Facebook. Jackson did acknowledge that other courts have ruled that the First Amendment protects Facebook posts, but he said in those cases the posts were actual messages, not just someone clicking “like.”

Jackson also said he did consider whether the employees clicking “like” was a reason for them being fired, but he said that became a moot point when he decided “liking” someone or something isn’t protected speech.

An attorney for one of the fired workers said he would likely appeal the ruling.

Does this ruling have any impact for student journalists and advisers?

Virginia is in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court, so it the ruling probably applies to all states (Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia) in that district. The decision could also be a precedent for decisions in other states. It might be wise for those in that circuit for the time being to assume that clicking “like” on Facebook is not constitutionally protected.

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