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The importance of linking to reporting

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Links in online reporting provides context, credibility and transparency for coverage

by Kristin Taylor
You can’t click on a print newspaper, so why should we include links in digital stories?

The Nieman Foundation provides four main purposes for adding links:

  1. Links are good for storytelling.
  2. Links keep the audience informed.
  3. Links are a currency of collaboration.
  4. Links enable transparency.
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Promote online coverage with facts, without hype

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


When promoting, leave the rah-rah to the cheerleaderd. Supply the facts.

Guideline: Staffs should have clear guidelines for the tone of information published in social media. Although tweets are often used to promote people or events, that’s not the job of news media — student-run or otherwise. Remember to be a journalist all the time and provide facts, not opinion and hype.

Social media post/question:Social media doesn’t have to turn your publication into a cheerleader. Stick to news and information.

Stance: Whether you’re producing a print publication, a news website, a broadcast or a tweet, you’re in the news business and the story isn’t about you. Leave the rah-rah to the cheerleaders and supply the facts.

Reasoning/suggestions: Sometimes it’s a fine line, but think of it this way: You can notify your audience about an upcoming game, even tell them its significance and what to expect, but when you include something like, “So get out there and support our Fighting Eagles!” then you have gone over the line from news to promotion.

And that’s not a good thing.


Developing standards for social media use in your student media JEA SPRC

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Unnamed sources should be used sparingly …

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


… and only after students evaluate how the value of the information balances with the problems such sources create

Journalism is based on truth and accuracy. Using unnamed sources risks both of those standards. For that reason, students should seek sources willing to speak on the record. Unnamed sources should be used sparingly and only after students evaluate how the value of the information balances with the problems such sources create. 

Occasionally, a source’s physical or mental health may be jeopardized by information on the record. In this instance, journalists should take every precaution to minimize harm to the source.

Staff manual process

Editors should train staff members on how to conduct proper interviews on the record. Poor interview techniques could lead to confusion between potential sources and reporters. Staff members should always identify themselves when working on behalf of student media. Reporters should be advised to use anonymous sources rarely. Before agreeing to do so, they should ask the following questions:

  • Why does the source want to remain unnamed? Is it possible he/she would be in danger if his/her name is revealed? What other problems could occur?
  • How important is the story? How important is the information provided, and is there an alternative means for gathering it? Using an unnamed source hurts credibility and could risk legal action.
  • Students should consider what might happen if a court demands to know the source’s name. Most professional journalists would not reveal the name, and many have gone to jail instead of doing so. Would student reporters be willing to go that far? What legal protections exist in your state for protection of sources?
  • What might the source have to gain from getting this information published? Some sources who want to be off the record have ulterior motives that could harm someone else.
  • If students decide the information is vital and the source has a solid reason for remaining unnamed, who, besides the reporter, should know the identity? Many staffs decide the editor should know to assess the credibility of the source, but not the adviser in order to protect the adviser’s professional position at the school.


Legal protections for journalists’ sources and informationby the Student Press Law Center

Position paper on anonymity of sources, Society of Professional Journalists

Use of unnamed sources, National Public Radio

Lesson: Exploring the Issues with Anonymous Sources, Journalism Education Association



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Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Transparency maintains credibility, strengthens reporting


In order to maintain credibility, student reporters and editors should strive to be transparent in all aspects of their reporting. This includes revealing within the text of a story how interviews were obtained (if anything other than an in-person interview is used), giving proper attribution to direct quotes, as well as using indirect quotes to give attribution to ideas and details that come from sources. 

Reporters should also be transparent in how secondary source information was obtained (i.e. through a public records request, etc.).


Why is transparency important in student reporting? How can students be transparent in their reporting?


Student reporters should strive for transparency within their writing and student editors should confirm where information came from as part of their routine fact-checking duties before publication.

Key points/action:

  • Teach students that during the reporting process they should take thorough notes so they know where information comes from
  • Teach students how to attribute information using both direct and indirect quotes
  • Require student editors to do a “transparency check” before publication. While editing stories, if they are not sure where a piece of information came from they should discuss with the reporter the need to be transparent


Transparency is important in student media because it establishes credibility and combats the illusion of “fake news.” If readers or viewers know where the information came from, they are less likely to question its accuracy or claim falsities in the publication.

Bottom line: Be clear where information comes from so no one can question the validity of that information (or if they do they can take those questions to the source and not the publication/reporter).


Related:Attribution & Objectivity



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Standards for accepting non-staff content

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Standards for non-staff generated content (including student media ads) 


Our publication will not accept advertising content that includes profanity, obscenity or nudity (with the exception of baby pictures for the personal ads). The editors reserve the right to edit all copy for style or to refuse an ad on the basis of its content.

Social media post/question:

What’s your guideline on questionable material in content students submit?


Create guidelines that allow student editors to still maintain some control of the content allowed to others, and to generate and communicate these guidelines clearly to your readers.


When you accept business or personal ads for your yearbook or newspaper, you turn over some content generation privileges, but you maintain the same responsibilities. By creating a clear guideline, which you communicate with your readers, you help to ensure those that submit the content demonstrate some level of journalistic responsibility and understand you, as the editor, still have the final say.











Needs resources and blog

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Study others’ First Amendment climate to better your own

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Quick Tips | 0 comments


First Amendment survey

Social media post/question: What does your school’s empowerment of free expression entail? 

Topic: By localizing the survey “Gallup: Free Expression on Campus: A Survey of U.S. College Students and U.S. Adults,” students can begin to see their students’ reactions to free expression points made in the survey.

Stance: Free expression isn’t always a friendly venture. Oftentimes, the values of free expression can be tested by speech that may make another uncomfortable.

Reasoning/suggestions: By examining their school’s current free expression climate, students can evaluate what type of community education is needed and act accordingly.

According to the Gallup poll results concerning seeking out and listening to alternative views, “Only 16 percent of students and 24 percent of adults say Americans do a good job of this; 50 percent and 39 percent, respectively, say Americans do a poor job.”

How can education of a school culture allow for a forum for student discussion?


Top 10 High School FAQs

Summary ofTinker v. Des MoinesandHazelwood v. Kuhlmeier

The SPLC First Amendment rights diagram(for public schools)

SPLC law library





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