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Ask, don’t assume, to build trust

Posted by on Sep 14, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments


by Lindsay Coppens, The Harbinger Adviser Algonquin Regional High School, Northborough, Mass.

Building trust between student editors and school administrators goes a long way toward having a good year and a publication where students are empowered. 

Yes, part of scholastic journalists’ role is to question those in power and the decisions they make, and it’s essential reporters and editors are skeptical. However, it’s also helpful for student editors and administrators to have a good working relationship. I’ve found that the better the working relationship the more the students feel empowered.

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Journalism and activism: Is there still a line that separates them?

Posted by on Sep 10, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments


(WARNING: I buried the lead…at least for some of you.)

by Candace Bowen, MJE

Following the 2018 March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. and less than two months after the Parkland shootings, CNN’s “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter asked one of the school newspaper’s editors if she saw “a difference right now between journalism and activism in what you’re doing?” 

“I think that for me, the purpose of journalism is to raise the voices of people who maybe don’t have a voice,” one of The Eagle Eye newpaper’s editors, Rebecca Schneid, replied.

Then the editor added, “And so I think that in its own right, journalism is a form of activism.”

Even though she later said she did see “distinctions between the two,” the Twitterverse exploded with reactions.

Some were critical, saying this is why journalism is having problems and reiterating the importance on sticking to the facts. Others – other journalists, too – agreed with Schneid and pointed out examples of journalists making a difference and being advocates.

But what does this exchange that happened a year and a half ago mean today?

It’s an example of the ethical dilemma student and commercial media face today, and the focus of the 15thannual Poynter KSU Media Ethics Workshop: Act. Action. Activism?

The daylong event will be at Kent State University Thursday, Sept. 19, but it will also be streamed live from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and archived for future viewing so you can watch all or parts of it from anywhere.

And here’s the lead I buried:Perhaps the three best parts for high school media advisers and their students: 

  • Keynote speakers at from 12:30 – 1:45 p.m. EDT will be Melissa Falkowski and Eric Garner, media advisers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. You’ll be able to tweet questions for them, too.
  • Plus two lesson plans are downloadable from the site. Just scroll down below the sponsor list. These include one you can do to get your students thinking about the ethical issue of “just the facts” vs. covering activism. Watching the keynote and other parts of the workshop would be a bonus, but these are also standalone assignments. 

The other lesson plan has students think about how they would have covered the May 4thshootings at Kent State if today’s social media and technology had been available 50 years ago in 1970. A PowerPoint includes the NBC Nightly News report of that event, WKSU’s radio version and two area newspapers’ coverage. It’s a good history lesson and also a very interactive assignment to get students thinking about the effectiveness of today’s various platforms.

  • On top of these, the Center for Scholastic Journalism will award $500 to the school media program with best coverage of activism. This can be a package in any media and by multiple students. Details will be announced during the workshop at 1:45 p.m. EDT and available on the website or from Candace Bowen,
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Real benefits without review and restraint

Posted by on Sep 7, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments


The latest episode of the SPRC podcast Conversations at the Schoolhouse Gate is posted.

Episode 6: Real benefits without review and restraint
interview with Archer School for Girls administrator Gretchen Warner and student editor Anna Brodsky.

Subscribe to the podcast through iTunes or Stitcher or listen directly from this website

After defining the terms “prior review,” “prior restraint” and “self-censorship,” Archer School for Girls journalism adviser Kristin Taylor interviews Archer’s Upper School Director Gretchen Warner and student editor-in-chief Anna Brodsky about the relationship between this private school’s free student press and its administration. 

If you are a student or a student media adviser with a story about prior review or restraint, we want to hear from you. You can reach us at with the subject line “Podcast” or tweet us at @jeapressrights.

So you don’t miss out on future episodes, please subscribe to this podcast through any of the many podcast applications available for your computer or phone.

If you like this podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes! Every review raises our profile and the chance more students and advisers will hear us.

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Be a leader in Year of the Student Journalist

Posted by on Sep 2, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments


by John Bowen, MJE

Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier contributes to people’s inability to trust journalists since much of what today’s society grew up with as journalism appeared in student media. There, journalists often battled censorship, prior review or intimidation. 

When that’s what the media carried – incomplete information that conveniently omitted unfavorable details or saw entertainment as news, then that’s what fledgling citizens came to expect from commercial media.

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Introduction to Constitution Day 2019: lessons and more

Posted by on Aug 18, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments


Constitution Day is right around the corner: Tuesday, Sept. 17. This celebration of the signing of the United States Constitution is the perfect time to touch on our rights and responsibilities, especially as they relate to freedom of speech. The Scholastic Press Rights Committee has you covered, once again, with a collection of lesson plans and activities. Check out this year’s featured lessons and feel free to use the material in whatever manner is best for your class and your students.

Citizenship in the United States (by Audrey Wagstaff): Have students examine the history of ratifying the Constitution and Bill of Rights, assess their own knowledge by answering Constitution-specific questions from the current citizenship test, and read/discuss recent news stories and opinion pieces about the great citizenship debate.

Evaluating Political Ads (by Megan Fromm): Involve students in understanding and evaluating political advertisements. They will consider ethical dilemmas and create advertisements of their own.

Free speech vs. hate speech: What’s protected? (by Susan McNulty): Social media has provided a platform for anyone with an internet connection to post their views on any topic imaginable. Protesters have the right to hold signs and convey their beliefs in public places. But what about hate speech? Should certain ideas and messages be silenced? 

Understanding and Promoting Student Press Rights (by Matthew Smith): Guide your students through an understanding of their rights as student journalists and where these rights originate. Also, touch on how students can promote and expand these rights.

Resources for Working on Student Free Expression Legislation (by Lori Keekley): Make use of a collection of resources and examples from around the country to promote New Voices legislation in your state.

Suggestions for student media mission, legal, ethical and procedural language (by Lori Keekley): Originally presented to the 2019 Adviser Institute in New Orleans, this material provides important models that can be adapted of essential mission, legal, ethical and procedural language for student media.

Also, be sure to check out resources provided by the Student Press Law Center, including its Year of the Student Journalist ideas. In particular, consider having your students write and submit an op-ed about why student press freedom is important (try using some of our featured lessons from previous Constitution Days to build background and appreciation, such as this one from 2017 on the importance of an independent and active press).

And finally, congratulations to Gillian McMahon from West Linn High School in West Linn, Oregon, for taking first place in the Constitution Day Logo Contest and creating our 2019 Constitution Day design. Excellent work by all students who submitted entries!

For past Constitution Day materials, go here.

If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to reach out to Matthew Smith or Jeff Kocur.

Thank you!

Constitution Day Committee
Lori Keekley, MJE, St. Louis Park High School (MN)
Jeff Kocur, CJE, Hopkins High School (MN)
Matthew Smith, CJE, Fond du Lac High School (WI)
Audrey Wagstaff, MJE, Wilmington College (OH)
Megan Fromm, MJE, Grand Junction High School (CO)
Susan McNulty, CJE, J. W. Mitchell High School (FL)

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