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Limiting student emails QT57

Posted by on Apr 10, 2018 in Blog, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Guideline and policy

The school can’t keep students from using email addresses they create for communications related to their student media.

Nothing in Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) or Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) overcomes the First Amendment protections students have nor the rights they have under state law.

Key points/action: Talk to the Student Press Law Center for guidance on how to respond to this.

Stance:  Three points to note:

  • The school is not required by CIPA or COPPA to prevent the use of these publication email address that don’t go through the official school Google email service. So long as the school can attest it’s taking appropriate measures to protect students from harm that could result via these emails (training them how to use them and how to respond to inappropriate messages, making a faculty member like the adviser accessible to the students if they have questions or problems, etc.), they will have complied with any legal obligations under those laws.
  • There is no reason the school couldn’t give students on the publication staff a second email address connected to their publication role that operates under the same protocols as the students’ official school email address. This may not be a good option because of the access the school could have to publication-related messages, but it would be a way to satisfy the school’s concerns and get separate emails working more easily.
  • Gmail is not the only option for free email accounts for your publication staff. If your students could work around this by creating new email addresses via another service that can be accessed from the school computers, that might be worth considering.

Reasoning/suggestions: The more challenging issue is whether the school can prevent students from accessing those email accounts on school-owned devices. Again, the SPLC is probably best able to advise you and  your students,

Resource: Mark Goodman, Knight chair in Scholastic Journalism, Kent State University, September 2017.

Related: These points and other decisions about mission statement, forum status and editorial policy should be part of a Foundations Package  that protects journalistically responsible student expression.

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Plan and pack for social media coverage of protests

Posted by on Mar 22, 2018 in Blog, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments



The three photos on this page are from the Women’s March Jan. 21, 2017, and show what a similar protest could be like March 24. Photos courtesy of Marina Hendricks.

by Marina Hendricks, CJE
Social media offers great possibilities for real-time reporting of protests. Here’s some advice for student journalists who are preparing for protest coverage, based on my experience attending the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2017.

Before you go

Check rules and regulations. Participants in the Women’s March were limited to clear backpacks and handbags roughly equivalent to the size of large wallets. I didn’t have a backpack, so I carried a small cross-body bag and wore a jacket with plenty of pockets for stashing equipment and supplies.

Develop a communication plan. Save phone numbers in your devices so you can contact each other. Use an app such as GroupMe, WhatsApp or Signal to organize group messaging. Study maps to become familiar with the area. Designate a safe rendezvous point away from the protest site (such as a restaurant or coffee shop) and set times for regular in-person check-ins.

Figure out what you’re going to use. In selecting your social media channels for protest coverage, consider where you’re most likely to engage with your audience that day, then make a list of relevant hashtags and handles. Large-scale events typically have both national and local organizing groups. Determine which hashtags you’re most likely to use, and identify the social media players you plan to tag and @mention. Save the list where you can find it easily.

Prepare for coverage. Social media reporting involves working with phones, and large crowds of people mean jammed cellular networks. This excellent article by Beatrice Motamedi, CJE, contains tips on working around jams to report and communicate, and provides other helpful advice. Take an extra phone charger, a clear plastic bag to protect your phone from rain or snow, a small notebook and a couple of pens.

Pack for a long day. In addition to reporting gear, you’ll want items to keep you comfortable throughout the event. These include a refillable water bottle that can be attached to clothing, hand wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues, granola or protein bars, a small first-aid kit, over-the-counter pain reliever and necessary prescription medication, cash (small bills), mass transit cards and maps of the area. Tuck photo identification and proof of health insurance in an inside pocket of your jacket for safekeeping.

At the event

Choose attire carefully. Wear comfortable shoes and a jacket and pants with lots of pockets. Dress in layers, with long-sleeved shirts or hoodies that you can tie around your waist if you get too warm. “Glittens” protect your hands while keeping your fingers free to work your phone. A ballcap can help protect your eyes from sun or rain, depending on the weather.

Practice safety. Make sure a trusted adult knows where you’re going to be and how long you plan to be there. Follow the buddy system – work in pairs. Maintain awareness of the environment around you. Look for alternative routes to exit the protest site. Be prepared to see and hear things that may make you uncomfortable. Remember, you’re there to report. If you feel unsafe, however, leave the area.

Make yourself identifiable as a student journalist. Carry a staff photo ID and/or wear a staff shirt. If you have business cards, take some with you.

Be considerate. There’s no reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place. That said, when interviewing and shooting photos or videos, make sure people are comfortable with what you’re doing.

This is especially important with children. Ask permission first, from the kids as well as their parents. Even if kids seem comfortable, parents understandably may get nervous. They may not want their children on social media. For tips on interviewing children, see this Columbia Journalism Review article and this guide written by Sarah Carr for the Education Writers Association.

Exercise judgment. People who attend protests are passionate, creative and colorful in expressing their opinions. Their language and signs may be explicit. Watch and listen for what might not meet your editorial standards.

Savor the experience. You are witnessing history and helping to record it. Enjoy!

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Tips for audio reporting of protests, walkouts

Posted by on Mar 21, 2018 in Blog, Broadcast, Digital Media, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Video and audio by Lucie Rutherford. Used with permission Part of HHS Media, Harrisonburg High School’s coverage of students, faculty and staff lined up to show solidarity with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High where 17 died in a shooting Feb. 14.

Knowing how to prepare and work with audio in covering protests, walkouts. SPRC member Vince DeMiero and junior Marianne Nacanaynay of  talk about solutions to audio issues.

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Handling online comments QT34

Posted by on Nov 29, 2017 in Blog, Digital Media, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Deciding whether to accept online comments can be a tough decision they can carry a lot of baggage. How to review and verify them? How does refusing to run them affect your forum status?

And that’s only the first decision.

Next come a choice of approving them before posting or posting the then reviewing, which can result in takedowns.

Whatever decision students make, they should not make it lightly. Having enough students to monitor the letters in a timely manner is but one question to be answered.



Student media should accept letters to the editor or online comments from outside the staff to solidify their status as a designated public forum where students make all final decisions of content. This allows their audience to use their voices as well. Question: Should student media enable online comments?

Key points/action: Handling online comments seems to have three options:

  • Review them first and then post
  • Post and then pull down unacceptable ones
  • Don’t accept any comments online at all.

All three work, depending on the mission and policies of your student media.

Stance: We feel there are no quick and easy answers, but plenty of ethical room for discussion and implementation of workable solutions.

Reasoning/suggestions: Within the choices above, your students could:

  • Require authenticated identification of poster before posting
  • Initiate a verification system of the source and his or her information
  • Consider your mission and forum status before students make a decision
  • Decide how much person power and time do you want to devote to authenticating posts?
  • Decide how will your decision fit into existing policies and ethical guidelines?
  • Ensure online and print standards are consistent


Online ethics guidelines for social media

Questions student staffs should discuss before entering the social media environment

Online Comments: Allow Anyone to Post or Monitor and Approve First. An Ethics Lesson, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
Online Ethics Guidelines for Student Media, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee
A Newsroom Guide for Handling Online Comments, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee

Related: These points and other decisions about mission statement, forum status and editorial policy should be part of a Foundations Package that protects journalistically responsible student expression.

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Social media that works
in high school newsrooms QT33

Posted by on Nov 27, 2017 in Blog, Digital Media, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Social media has had such a profound effect on journalism that it’s sometimes hard to remember how traditional news functioned before it. Reading this 2009 MediaShift article is a powerful reminder that Twitter wasn’t always the source of breaking news. In fact, as author Julie Posetti wrote just eight years ago, “Some employers are either so afraid of the platform or so disdainful about its journalistic potential that they’ve tried to bar their reporters from even accessing Twitter in the workplace.”

Not accessing Twitter in the newsroom? It’s laughable now. Yet for some high school newsrooms, this is still the case. Overzealous school policies banning the use of various forms of social media and cell phones at school cripple student journalists who need to learn these tools in order to survive and thrive in our new media world.

However, setting students loose with social media journalism without strong guidelines is just as problematic. Just as professional news producers such as NPR have developed thorough social media policies, advisers should work with their student edition board to develop a robust social media policy for their own publications.

A place to start when tackling this task is to look to professional models like NPR’s. This recap of a 2014 panel about the ethics of social media news is another good resource. For scholastic guidance, check out JEA/SPRC’s foundation materials or this 2012 Social Media Toolbox masters project — though a bit dated, it still contains some great lessons and ideas. For help convincing administration of the value of social media in the newsroom, Quill & Scroll’s Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism has a strong rationale and additional resources.

As you develop your guidelines, however, it’s important to consider both sides of social media journalism: not only how to use it as a tool to share information or report a breaking story, but also how to use it as a reporter seeking information — the importance of verification so not to spread misinformation. For this second part of the equation, the Columbia Journalism Review’s “Best Practices for Social Media Verification” and the Online News Association’s Social Newsgathering Ethics Code are good places to start.

Our student journalists deserve to use the same tools as the professionals, but they also need the same caliber of ethics and responsible practices to guide them. These guidelines must be specific, yet flexible, as social media platforms are constantly evolving. With guidance for how to post to social media as a journalist and how to use it as a reporting tool, students will be uniquely poised to take new media journalism to places we can’t yet even imagine.


Journalists should hold to the same ethical standards and guidelines for their use of social media as they do for print or broadcast. Editors should devise a social media guide with clear expectations and make sure all staff members are trained in the procedures before providing username and password information for shared social media accounts.

Social Media Post:

How can students use social media effectively in high school newsrooms?


Social media has become a critical part of commercial journalism: adult reporters use social media both as a reporting tool and as a news source. Student reporters should also use social media to distribute and research news, but they — like adults — need clear guidelines for its use.

Student journalists should hold their social media posts to the same standards as print, digital or broadcast news. Examining commercial social media policies and these JEA/SPRC guidelines will provide a foundation for editors to develop their own publication policy. Student reporters also need strategies for verifying information gathered from social media posts. The Columbia Journalism Review’s “Best Practices for Social Media Verification” includes tips from experts to help students use these sources.


JEA/SPRC Social Media Use, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee

NPR ethics handbook: social media, NPR

SXSWi 2014: Accurate, Fair & Safe: The Ethics of Social News, Storify

Social media toolbox, Hendrix Project

The value of using social media in journalism, Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism

Best practices for social media verification, Columbia Journalism Review

ONA Social Newsgathering Ethics Code, Online News Association


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Student news media fulfill growing need:
covering local news no one else does

Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in Blog, Broadcast, Digital Media, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


by Cyndi Hyatt

Student newspapers – the new papers of record?

Nearly 350 teachers wearing white T-shirts, chanting slogans and holding signs calling for a fair contract lined the front of the high school before the September school board meeting. Philadelphia’s television news vans were there: Action News, Fox 29, CBS 10.

And so was the local paper, the school newspaper, the only print media present.

As local and regional newspaper circulation continues to decline, there is less and less local coverage for more and more communities. Residents of areas without the local paper sometimes have to look long and hard to read about what’s happening in their own backyards leaving them in the dark about most community matters including politics, policies and police activity. 

Because of this lack of local press, student journalism is now more important than ever. While the regional TV stations may air a 15-second voiceover on the nightly news about a local happening, the school newspaper can tell the full story and often is the only media outlet doing so. The school newspaper has become the paper of record for many areas.

Good student newspapers are authoritative and cover the local community unlike other media. Because of protected speech, they can be editorially independent.  The result is fair and balanced reporting with high standards for news gathering and writing, paying close attention to accuracy in detail and fact-checking.

The paper and its online presence are publicly available not only to the immediate school but through distribution to local merchants and public buildings, like libraries and municipal offices.

That night of the school board meeting, four student journalists covered the event, arriving at 6 p.m. and staying until the meeting adjourned at 9 p.m. They shot video and stills. They interviewed parents, teachers and students. They listened, recorded and took notes. They were present to document the entire event.

The week prior and the week after the meeting they contacted school board members and union representatives, reached out to attorneys representing each side, researched past contract negotiations, learned about process, past and present.

The result was an informative and timely news story that objectively told both sides – a story that informs the community, both the school and municipal stakeholders, what is happening in their local school district.

Student journalists’ news media matter. They mean more than ever to their school and surrounding neighborhoods because oftentimes they are the only voice of authentic and honest local news coverage.

They have become the paper of record.

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