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Kirkwood stories make an impact

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


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


 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


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

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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We must trust students’ final decisions of content and not take final approval away from them

Posted by on Oct 17, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

As advisers we must advise. We question, we discuss, we coach, we cheer. We draw from our experiences and perspectives to shed light on viewpoints young journalists may not have considered.  We establish protocols based on best practices, but we also must trust.

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

Do students have complete autonomy and scholastic press rights if advisers approve of or even have the expectation to read all content before publication? I say no.

Although I see the potential educational merits of advisers reading content before it is published in order to promote deep discussions about journalistic practice and ethics, I’ve grown to believe it’s best for student autonomy if advisers do not approve all copy.

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Upgrade in Virginia policy downgrades student free expression

Posted by on Oct 6, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments


by John Bowen, MJE

High school journalists in Virginia’s Frederick County recently had their student publications policies upgraded by the school board, the Student Press Law Center reported. 

Student journalists say they don’t think much of the changes.

“The newspaper was already censored multiple times last year, and the staff has dwindled from about 30 students a year ago to just 10 this fall,” co-editor Christian Hellwig told the SPLC reporter.

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