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Questioning Authority

Posted by on Jan 24, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

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Fallout from the 2020 election expands into a second impeachment trial. Mobs attack the Capital raising charges of unAmerican activity and sedition. Questions of whether not wearing masks and large groups partying extend our national pain of a nearly year-old pandemic.

It is certain scholastic media will address plenty of issues. Just recently Facebook and other digital media addressed questions about obsolescence of objectivity: Could it be obsolete? What does that mean for the emergence of advocacy reporting? Could media roles change? Should they?

Questions concern revision of ethical standards: to reflect guidelines that apply to the newest tools journalists use.

Questions would tackle takedown of published information and the potential impact of deleting historical memory.

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

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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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Questioning Authority:

Posted by on Jan 10, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

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Journalists must no longer share just the what. We must provide the WHY

by Candace Bowen, MJE

It’s not just what we tell people. It’s more than ever the WHYords are powerful. And teachable moments are a gift. No one knows that better than journalism teachers. So, when crowds descended on the Capitol Wednesday (note the words I used here), I wasn’t the only one thinking about how to discuss this with my reporting students. But exactly how can I best do that?by Candace Bowen, MJE

Words are powerful. And teachable moments are a gift. No one knows that better than journalism teachers. So, when crowds descended on the Capitol Wednesday (note the words I used here), I wasn’t the only one thinking about how to discuss this with my reporting students. But exactly how can I best do that?

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Who owns student content?

Posted by on Jan 5, 2021 in Blog | 0 comments

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Students were back wherever their classes meet after the first of January when questions began on JEA’s listserv about who owned publication content, specifically images, in student media.

Responses came, saying the school did; the publication did and student journalists did. Reasons and answers varied widely.

JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee several years ago, as well as the Student Press Law Center, published insight and options to guide decisions ownership decisions.

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A short wish list for Santa from your journalism students

Posted by on Dec 14, 2020 in Blog | 0 comments

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by Cyndi Hyatt

Dear Santa,

I hope this letter finds you well.  I’m not sure what the COVID-19 cases look like up at the North Pole, but I would hope that you, Mrs. Claus, the reindeer and the elves have been maintaining social distance and wearing your masks (unlike too many of my fellow Americans).

I imagine you have had to make some serious modifications to your workshop for toy making.  Hey, if you are down to 50 percent capacity in the factory, we could all be in for a big letdown this year. (I’m thinking this could be a great story, though…)

santa claus chocolate figurine
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

But that’s not why I am writing you today.

This year has been terrible, as you well know, but I have a short wish list for this holiday that would cheer me (and a lot of my fellow journalists) up a lot.  If you could even fill one of these asks I would be super-grateful.  Some of my wishes may take a lot of creative thinking and maybe even strong-arming to make happen, but you’ve got a lot on your side:  magic and clout.  

Please know, Santa, that I am not a selfish person; everything I am asking for is not just for me – just trying to say I want to share the holiday goods.  And what’s the worst you can do?  Say no? 

  1. I would like you to bring an end to the term “fake news” in 2021. Frankly, I am sick of hearing it and I’m not really sure what it means.  I do know that it is language to demoralize and vilify honest student journalists like myself.  What I do every day is based on the desire to tell a true story.  I use a code of ethics and the First Amendment as my guides.  I don’t lie or fabricate what I write.  Sure, sometimes people don’t agree with what I have written, but by no means is it fake.  Jeez!  Can you do something about that term, Santa?
  2. Sometimes my principal wants to see what we students are writing or producing ahead of time because he is afraid it may make our school look bad.  Can you please send him a copy of the Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism and a copy of the Tinker case?  He’s a nice guy but he doesn’t know squat about what my rights and responsibilities as a student journalist.  And maybe he will back off some once he actually reads these documents and realizes their importance.
  3. Do you have access to anything that opens people’s eyes and minds?  If so, I would like you to give a vial (or whatever that may come in) to all the state legislators in the nine states that have active New Voices campaigns running.  Maybe they can then be able to see the value of a protected free student press and know that with a trained and able adviser, student journalists can be trusted with First Amendment freedoms.
handwritten people woman bed
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I said I would keep my list short, but I have one more wish…

  • Can you score me an interview with President-elect Biden?  That would make me soooo popular at school and may enhance my chances of winning Student Journalist of the Year.

Thanks, Santa, for reading my letter.  Stay well – stay masked.

Sincerely,

Stu Dentpress

Freedom Grove, PA

PS – You may want to lay off those cookies and milk this year.  Obesity is a risk factor for COVID-19.

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Should it stay or should it go?

Posted by on Dec 5, 2020 in Blog | 0 comments

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by Teresa Scribner, CJE

After spending 17 years in the newspaper industry as a visual journalist, I feel like I have a solid grasp on leaving my personal beliefs at the door when I walk into a newsroom. For years, I bit my tongue on politics, religion and reality TV. Being able to compartmentalize has served me well – first in the industry and now as a teacher. 

I’m four months into my ninth year of teaching, and it has taken years to teach my students how to set aside their personal beliefs when they are covering their peers. But what happens when the one thing you try to teach your students comes back to bite you in the worst way?

In 2020 P.C. (Pre-COVID), I had two alums from our school reach out to me asking if I could remove a story from our website. Both students cited their growth since high school and their fear of future employers seeing the stories during an Internet search. Both students acknowledged that the written stories were accurate, but now that they were college students, those stories were no longer an accurate portrayal of who they are today.

Just a few weeks ago, another student emailed asking if I could remove her photo from a graduation video that had been up since June. Why now? What was I to do?

Just a few weeks ago, another student emailed asking if I could remove her photo from a graduation video that had been up since June. Why now? What was I to do?

I’ve seen several teachers pose this same question in the journalism teachers group on Facebook. What do you do when former students want you to remove them from stories published long ago?

My first instinct was to trust my news judgement gut. The stories were accurate. My student journalists had provided solid, well-researched stories. We had media waivers on file for all of the students we used. All of our bases were covered. 

And then my teacher’s light switched on. The story in question was about non-Black students using the n-word. What if my refusal to remove these stories cost my former students their dream job? What if they wanted to be on the Supreme Court, and these stories came up as they sat for their confirmation hearings? Would it be my fault if these kids couldn’t get a job?

Some of the responses on the Facebook page went with what would be best for the students, while others suggested editing the old stories to remove references or unflattering images. I ultimately decided to remove the student’s name from the story, even though it had been in the digisphere for more than six years. And if you do a search for the story, the student’s name will still pop up, although their name isn’t in the story anymore. 

Why did I do it? 

As for the other two students: one of them was a former staff member who didn’t want their byline on a story they deemed used “horrible language.” The other student claimed they did not give us permission to use their photo in a video, even though we had a copy of their media waiver on file. In both of these instances, I did not honor their requests.

The short answer is, “people change.” I knew this former student had gone on to become a star student in college and had even offered to come back to the school to run a program for students of color. When they first approached me, they insisted on talking on the phone and not over email so that they could sincerely express their regret in using the n-word. And I believed them. 

Now, will it earn them a spot on the Supreme Court? I don’t know. But I do feel better about my decision knowing this student had learned from their past behavior.

As for the other two students: one of them was a former staff member who didn’t want their byline on a story they deemed used “horrible language.” The other student claimed they did not give us permission to use their photo in a video, even though we had a copy of their media waiver on file. In both of these instances, I did not honor their requests.

Neither one of these students, in my opinion, had offered a compelling argument beyond their “I-don’t-like-it” approach.

Some may see this as unfair; why do it for some and not for others. For me, the answer was easy. These two students would still be able to get a job if someone were to ever see what it was they were complaining about. The student who wanted to be removed from the video had no complaints about being included in the virtual graduation video or in the yearbook.

I do not know if there is a right answer, but it may serve you well to think about having a policy in place.

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