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Evaluating journalistic content: an ethics lesson

Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Blog, Broadcast, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Visual Reporting, Yearbook | 0 comments


Evaluating journalistic content: creating your own coverage process

by John Bowen
Students will examine the following: What is the most complete way to tell a story? What are the ingredients of the perfect, most comprehensive story? Can the approach work for all story types?

Students will work on the following questions:
• What in students’ minds is the “perfect story?”
• How would students achieve the “perfect story?”
• Can students apply an approach like Vox to their coverage?
• What are the strengths and weaknesses of Vox-like reporting?
• What would a scholastic approach look like?

• Students will investigate the question of what makes good content
• Students will discuss how to improve weak content using examples and processes from the lesson
• Students will create their own media approaches to more thorough coverage from lesson discussions

Common Core State Standards
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

150 minutes (three 50-minute classes)

Materials / resources
All you need to that Ezra Klein’s Vox is nothing special has no idea how to cover culture and News Flash Cards: What do you think?
Ezra Klein on Vox’s launch, media condescension and competing with Wikipedia aims to bring context to news with ‘card stacks’
Vox, the forefront of technology and journalism? 

Lesson step-by-step

Day 1
1. Student discovery — 20 minutes
Have students go and who we are to examine several Vox stories and read about the Vox concept. They should complete the handout on the following.
• What does Vox say about the purpose of its approach? Why does it work? How does it work?
• Do students think it works? Why? Why not?
• Are the Vox stories complete? Cohesive? Reliable? Verifiable? Accurate? Who or what are the sources, and what does that lead you to ask about the information? How well do they use multiplatform materials?
• If you were to adapt a Vox-like approach, what would you chose to to use, not to use?

2. Readings — 30 minutes

Assign each group to read one of the following articles about Vox and be ready to discuss in class.
• All you need to that Ezra Klein’s Vox is nothing special
• has no idea how to cover culture and News Flash Cards: What do you think?
• Ezra Klein on Vox’s launch, media condescension and competing with Wikipedia
• aims to bring context to news with ‘card stacks’
• Vox, the forefront of technology and journalism?

Day 2

1. Link — 5 minutes
Ask students to describe what they learned about the concept of during the previous class.

2. Reading review — 15 minutes
Assign students to form six groups. Have each group reread and concentrate on one of the articles.  Ask students to think about points made and evaluate them in terms of creating their own version of Vox using the following questions:
—What do they like about Vox and would include
—What do they dislike and would not include
—What would they change and why?
—Could they make something like Vox work on the scholastic level, and how?

3. Reports — 15 minutes
Each group should report on what it discussed.

4. Practical application — 15 minutes
Once the articles and Vox have been thoroughly discussed, break the students into team of five and have them:
—Decide how they would focus their approach to cover a localized issue or event
—Choose the topic, its sources and questions to build coverage around (core story)
—Begin to research and gather/suggest the “card stacks” to make their coverage complete
—Evaluate their materials as they go, and prepare to explain their choices to each team in
–Students will decide which, if any, of their story approaches would work and implement decisions on each.
• Would their approach provide “perfect story” coverage? Why/why not?
• What could be changed to make stories more effective?
• Do they think audiences would be more completely informed using this approach? Why or why not?
• What changes, if any, would they have to make in their operations to be effective?
• Is this approach valuable enough to make those changes?

• Is this approach valuable enough to make those changes? 

Day 3

1. Group preparation — 10 minutes
Students should review the information from the practical application from the previous class.

2. Presentation — 40 minutes
Each team shares its story concepts, sources and presentation.

Teams will discuss the ethical issues raised in the coverage and well as the news principles and judgment of story and card selection.


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Read my lips: Students should exercise caution when producing lip sync videos

Posted by on Apr 29, 2014 in Blog, Broadcast, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Uncategorized, Visual Reporting, Yearbook | 0 comments


By Megan Fromm
Sometimes, pop culture and reality align to provide the perfect anecdote for our weekly SPRC posts. This week, the timing of Jimmy Fallon and Emma Stone’s heated lip sync battle on the Tonight Show couldn’t have come at a better time. Earlier this week, the celebrities dueled over who could best move their mouth to a famous pop or rap segment, emulating thousands of videos already online in which people — often teens — attempt to look just like the musicians who originally released a song.

And while fans may have crowned Emma the lip sync queen, anyone concerned with copyright infringement should take this example to heart: When a person publishes a video — even if it’s only seconds long — of his/herself miming along to copyright music, that person could be violating copyright.

Need a refresher of copyright law? Visit the Student Press Law Center at or check out their Student Media Guide to Copyright.

Take, for instance, the case against Vimeo, a popular video sharing website. In an ongoing lawsuit that started in 2009, Capitol Records is suing the website, accusing Vimeo of posting videos that violated hundreds of the record company’s copyrights.

What makes music copyright especially complicated is that compositions may exist under several copyrights — one for the lyrics and musical arrangement, one for any particular production of the composition, and often one for the arts or imagery that accompany a musical record. Strictly speaking, without permission from the copyright holder, others cannot legally reproduce or redistribute the work in question.

Students initiating school-wide lip dubs is becoming increasingly common (for example, students in both Pennsylvania and Indiana produced their own), but simply calling it an “educational activity” because it happens on

So, students and teachers beware. And more importantly, be safe, legal and respectful by obtaining written permission before producing and publishing lip syncs as part of your student media program.


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Takedown demands?
Here is a roadmap of choices, rationale

Posted by on Apr 6, 2014 in Blog, Broadcast, Ethical Issues, Hazelwood, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Uncategorized, Yearbook | 0 comments


Because of a growing number of takedown demands, requests for removal of online articles, JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Commission offers guidelines to assist students and their advisers face these requests.  Such requests typically  come from sources, former staffers or citizens with concerns.

We agree with the Student Press Law Center’s Executive Director Frank LoMonte when he said the SPLC has shied away from telling people a ”right way” to handle takedown requests, leaving the decision to their editorial discretion.

“What we DO tell them is that they’re legally protected pretty much whatever decision they make,” LoMonte said. “Almost every newsroom has a variation of the simple rule that nothing will be taken down unless it’s proven factually false or otherwise legally deficient as of the time it was published.”

LoMonte said those creating takedown policies might “shackle themselves,” to the point they could not use discretion for that “one out-of-left-field moment …essential to deviate from policy.”

So, instead of policy, we offer this to help students make informed choices. In all situations, we recommend the SPLC’s existing work on the subject, and hope these guidelines will offer a roadmap if your students face takedown decisions. In addition, we also offers series of guideposts to evaluate information before it is posted: A Put Up policy that might prevent hard choices later.

Our guidelines look at legal demands, ethical considerations and possible reactions
Evaluating legal demands
Evaluating ethical choices
Decision models
10 steps to a “Put Up” policy
Handling online comments

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