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Activities based on media coverage of high school of student working in adult industry

Posted by on May 5, 2019 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Lessons, New Voices, News, Scholastic Journalism | 0 comments


by John Bowen, MJE
In my last blog we discussed the importance of fighting prior review, and noted its use is growing, even in states with state legislation protecting student expression.

To emphasize the issue, we highlight recent review attempts with the Bruin Voice of Stockton, California, and related reporting about the student story.

You have a link to the story and multiple links to commercially reported information. To study the original story and reporting on it, we provide possible starting questions for discussion of the concept of review itself and how other reporters covered the original story.

By doing this, we hope not only to create critical thinking about prior review and about how such topics are reported.

The Bruin Voice

Media that reported the story

Writing about teenager who makes sex videos, school paper becomes the news

Bear Creek student newspaper’s controversial story will run as planned

Students express support for Bear Creek newspaper after controversial story publishes

Profile of student porn worker allowed to run in Stockton high school newspaper

Q&A: Teacher facing possible firing over student sex worker profile

Story on high school porn performer sparks censorship clash

District relents, allows Stockton school paper to run story about student in porn

Reporting and information gathering questions

• What are differences in the coverages?

• Are any questions unanswered? What, and who could be additional sources?

• What, if any, bias shows through in reporting, word usage, sources, approach?

• What information is missing? What sources could have provided it?

• Was the best lead used? If not, what alternatives might have been better?

• What background was used? What could have been used?

• What were coverage strengths? Weaknesses?

Legal and ethical questions

• What ethical issues did the reporter(s) have to address?

• What legal issues should be addressed? Were they? If addressed was the reporting accurate, robust and complete?

• Should topics like the Bruin Voice piece be reported by scholastic media? Discuss the legal and ethical issues and how you might handle them?

Our last blog: Prior review imposes ineffective educational limits on learning, citizenship

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Tinker v. Des Moines: a legacy for the nation

Posted by on Jan 27, 2019 in Blog, Lessons, Scholastic Journalism | 1 comment



Taking action on Student Press Freedom Day


In preparation for the 50th anniversary of the Tinker vs. Des Moines U. S. Supreme Court decision, students will learn about the case and its legacy for both students and teachers. This groundbreaking decision’s opinion stated “neither students or teachers lose their rights at the schoolhouse gate.”

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News vs public relations

Posted by on Jan 3, 2019 in Lessons | 0 comments



News vs. Public Relations 


The community gets information about what is happening at school through different publications, but not all of these publications are journalistic. In this lesson, students will differentiate between student reporting and school public relations by comparing and contrasting student publications with school public relations content such as newsletters, school-created magazines or school websites created and maintained by adults in the community.

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Bringing light to relevant issues, past and present, defines journalistic leadership

Posted by on Jan 2, 2019 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Lessons, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


by John Bowen, MJE
“I’d rather be a hammer than a nail
“Blowing in the Wind
“Find the Cost of Freedom
“Where Have All the Flowers Gone

How do these lyrics and titles relate to scholastic journalism?

  • They all came at a time when people questioned the media, its role and its leadership.
  • They all came at a time when citizens and journalists complained of government mis-, dis and censored information.
  • They all came at a time when activism and protest – from multiple viewpoints – clouded not only the truth on timely issues but also many people’s minds.

Sound familiar?

Fifty years ago, The U. S. Supreme Court upheld students wearing of black armbands as protected speech during the Vietnam war. That war also spawned events and issues that continued to bring activists, protestors and media together.

The war brought new levels of violence against expression some called unAmerican. “America, love it or leave it” was a forerunner of today’s “Enemy of the State.”

Such verbiage frustrated citizens who sought the truth about issues: The Pentagon Papers. MyLai 4. Lt. William Calley. May 4, 1970. The impact of drugs.

2018 and 2019 highlight a tumultuous new era with key similarities to the past.

Distrust of government and news media. Who tells the truth? Whom can citizens believe? Who lies?

And the current issues: Availability of guns, health, drugs, the environment, misinformation and lying. Growing amounts of stress in student lives.

Sound familiar?

We began to learn from Mary Beth and John Tinker and others who opened the schoolhouse gates to free expression, social awareness and creation of change. Free speech and press are important.

If we truly believe the social responsibility role of the news media is an essential partner with freedom – at all levels – we will empower student journalists to seek the truth, to dig for the whole story and to always question authority. They then question what authority tells society as the Tinkers and others modeled 50 years ago.

Reporting will add new meaning to journalistic leadership, advocacy and solutions.

Consider, as a New Year’s resolution, expanding your journalistic studies to include current issues as well as their historical perspectives. Content choices include:

And, as we move into 2019, the hammers, not the nails, will bring clearer insight and exert stronger leadership in today’s societal issues.

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Fighting fake news one Tweet at a time

Posted by on Aug 20, 2018 in Blog, Lessons | 0 comments



Fighting fake news one Tweet at a time


The principle of freedom of speech allows Americans the right to express opinions without censorship or restraint, and social media provides a 24/7 platform for that purpose. According to Pew Research, approximately two-thirds of Americans report that they get at least some of their news from social media outlets. In this lesson, students will review what Twitter is doing — and not doing — to fight fake news. After careful analysis, students will present their opinions in a Socratic Seminar.


  • Students will recognize the pros and cons of people relying on social media as their primary news source.
  • Students will gain an understanding of how Twitter filters news.
  • Students will discuss the level of responsibility social media platforms have in preventing the spread of misinformation.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.


1 class period (Easily extended into two class periods. Day 1 – Research, Day 2 – Socratic Seminar)

Materials / resources

Rubric for Socratic Seminar

Teacher Scoresheet (at end of lesson)

Lesson step­-by-­step

Step 1 — Introduction and article reading (15 minutes)

Read this article from Poynter Institute “What’s the matter with Twitter?”

Step 2 – Individual preparation for Socratic Seminar (15 minutes)

Write thoughtful answers to the following questions, citing evidence from the text and other research.

  • What does Twitter do to combat the spread of misinformation on its platform?
  • How do Twitter’s policies and actions compare to Facebook, Google and YouTube?
  • Share your thoughts about freedom of speech vs. spread of misinformation on social media platforms. What do you think companies should do about fake news and hate speech?


Step 3 – Socratic Seminar (30 minutes)

Host a Socratic Seminar in which the classroom is divided into two groups, an inner circle and an outer circle. The inner circle will discuss the first two questions aloud while the outer circle observes and completes the Socratic Seminar participation rubric. Halfway through the time, the inner circle and outer circle will switch places, and the new inner circle will now discuss the final question.


  • Have students interview each other regarding social media’s responsibility to prevent the spread of misinformation. Ask them to recall instances when they have been fooled by fake news. Have students record their interviews and create a podcast to share with the class and/or online.
  • Student can research Twitter, Facebook, and one other social media site such as Snapchat or YouTube to create a comparison/contrast chart regarding their policies when handling misinformation on their platforms.

Additional Resources:

Socratic Seminar Instructions (if you have never hosted one before):


Socratic Seminar Rubric : Teacher Score Sheet

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Fake or Fact? seminar available
via live-streaming, archived video

Posted by on Sep 17, 2017 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Lessons, News, Teaching | 0 comments


Looking for additional materials for Constitution Day and lessons about fake news  in addition to what’s available from JEA and the SPRC?

The 13th annual Poynter-Kent State University Media Ethics Workshop is Thursday, Sept. 21, and focuses on fake news. The theme is “Fake or Fact?”

Details about the workshop, including speaker bios and a tentative schedule, are here.

A lesson plan for scholastic students, created by Candace Bowen, is available on the site.

The event is on the record, live streamed and archived. Show your students panel discussions as the happen or return to them by accessing the archives.

The keynote speaker will be NPR’s David Folkenflik, NPR media correspondent who is now featured in Netflix’s documentary “Nobody Speak.”

Other sessions will address fake news and journalism credibility, fake news and the 2016 election, how to identify and combat fake news, and fake news and public relations. Kelly McBride, Poynter’s VP, will be present, along with Indira Lakshmanan, who is Poynter’s new ethics chair.

You may recognize Indira as the Boston Globe’s Washington columnist who is frequently on PBS’s Washington Week and other political news shows.


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