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Despite state legislation protecting student media, students face constraints, including required changes in content

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

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by Stan Zoller, MJE

Imagine this scenario.

You’re at an airport when you are approached by a security guard who, after noticing your press credentials, staff T-shirt or other items that identifies you as a journalist, says, “You write propaganda, right?” And you are allowed to pass only after you agree. 

Court cases and Hazelwood timeline

Farfetched?

It may seem that way, but it’s sad reality because last month, Ben Watson, a news editor for Defense One, an Atlantic Media site, found himself the subject of an uncomfortable interview. He was held up at passport control in Dulles International Airport by a Customs and Border Protection officer, who repeatedly asked him, “You write propaganda, right?”

The chiding and abusive comments toward the media seem to be, sadly, more commonplace these days. And, sadly enough, student journalists are not immune to this kind of behavior.

Imagine if in addition to “admitting” you wrote propaganda, officials kept your media from being distributed.

Again, farfetched? Not really.

 Just ask the staff of the Central Times, the student newspaper at Naperville (Illinois) Central High School.

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Kirkwood stories make an impact

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

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Observations lead to this ‘Making a Difference’ recognition

by Hillary DeVoss

Sometimes, student journalists write a story so impactful it captures the attention of an entire city.

That was certainly the case when Kirkwood Call student editors Thomas Birmingham, Logan Crews and Jack Rintoul acted on their observations, as well as those from other students at Kirkwood High School: the teaching staff at their school was overwhelmingly white, but that didn’t reflect the racial makeup of the student body.

Students of color were talking about this and how it negatively affected their education.

“We became curious about the hiring process to become a teacher at our school and how race relations in our city play into the diversity of the staff,” the editors remarked. So, under the tutelage of adviser Mitch Eden, they dove in.

The story sparked open conversation about the topic on their campus. It also grabbed the attention of St. Louis media.

A journalist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote her own version of the story, using the Kirkwood Call’s story as a model after it had been recommended to her as well-researched investigative report.

One of the Call’s writers, Jack Rintoul, also talked to a journalist for St. Louis Public Radio and said that at one of their round-table discussions, they brought up “Diversity” as a good idea to pursue and acknowledged the staff’s hard work.

Months later, Kirkwood High School juniors wrote essays to the Human Rights Commission about race relations in their city. Conversations about this issue continue to take place in Kirkwood High School.

Read “Diversity” here.

For past Making a Difference coverage, go here.

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Journalistic responsibility goes hand-in-hand with news literacy

Posted by on Nov 11, 2019 in Blog | 1 comment

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 by John Bowen, MJE, Kent State University

Looking at Facebook over the weekend, I noticed two posts in particular. Both dealt with issues concerning science. Both raised questions involving news literacy and journalistic responsibility. Both received a good number of comments, from all viewpoints.

One, a meme, focused on listening to those with whom you disagree. That one was a simple statement, and the comments might foster additional story angles. Besides, it is good journalistic practice.

I had not heard of the other post’s focus before: that the Earth’s climate change is a natural result of changes in our solar orbit.

Click here to go to more posts on learning about fake news.

Naturally, I had to check it out.

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Is it time to review staff policies on covering whistleblowers, using anonymous sources?

Posted by on Nov 1, 2019 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

On July 25, U.S. President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talked by phone, and this call set off what is now an impeachment investigation into the U.S president by Congress.

An anonymous whistleblower filed a complaint with the intelligence inspector general Aug. 12, alleging Trump betrayed his oath of office.

Regardless of which side of the political aisle students stand, this historical moment calls for school journalism programs to revisit their staff manuals and review policies on coverage of whistleblowers and use of anonymous sources.

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Shared anecdotes can help New Voices legislation

Posted by on Oct 22, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

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Students Jackeline Loya Gomez, Haley Stack and Neha Madhira share their short, intermediate and long-term plans for the Texas student free speech legislation with an adviser and students from Pennsylvania during the New Voices Training Institute Oct. 13. Steve Listopad (holding the flip chart), instrumental in such legislation in North Dakota, serves as a mentor. (photo by Michael Simons)    

by Candace Bowen, MJE

Just how bad is the censorship that goes on in today’s student media? Could it be, as one administrator said – and perhaps more have thought –, advisers just making mountains out of mole hills?

And what about self-censorship? One principal said, with perfect confidence, “How can you blame us if students assume we won’t let them print a story when they don’t even try?”

Think about that for a minute or two . . .  Isn’t that the whole problem?

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