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What to tell your principal about Prior Review? QT 62

Posted by on Apr 23, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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Quick Hits: Student First Amendment Rights

The bad news is that administrators may legally ask to see stories before they are printed or aired, but prior review leaves them in an awkward situation, because of the good news below.

The good news is that they generally cannot ask students to change anything or spike the story. That would be prior restraint, allowed legally only under narrow conditions.*

Prior Review is a bad idea for both students and the school. But how do you convince the administrations?

You have two strong arguments against prior review. The first is a legal argument, the second is a pedagogical one.

First, when administrators review student publications prior to publishing, they and the school district become responsible for its content and policies. These three cases show the protection schools enjoy when they allow student control of student media:

  1. Because Lexington High School students made all the editorial, business and staffing decisions for both the LHS Yearbook and the school paper, a suit brought against the district failed. The adults were sued because the student leaders of the paper had refused to run two ads. The school’s superintendent, principal, the two publication advisers and the five school members of the school committee escaped unharmed from the suit that alleged they were violating the First and Fourteenth amendments when the school publications refused the ads. (Yeo v. Town of Lexington (1997) in the First Circuit Court of Appeals)
  2. Because the students, not the school district, decided which senior portraits to allow in the Londonderry High School yearbook, the district was protected from successful suit for First Amendment violation when the students rejected a senior portrait with a shotgun. The judge found that it was not the school district that rejected the photo. It was the student yearbook editors. “The state has not, it seems, suppressed Blake’s speech. His fellow students have done so.” (Douglass v. Londonderry School District (2005) in the U.S. District Court for New Hampshire.) 
  3. Because the students of Roosevelt High School in Seattle practiced strong journalism and controlled the content of their student media, a lower court ruled in favor of the Seattle Public Schools and against slumlords suing the district for libel following an article in The Roosevelt News, “Sisley Slums Cause Controversy: Developers and neighborhood clash over land use.”  The lower court ruled that if what the students write is true, it is not libel, and where the students make the content decisions, the school district is protected from successful suit. (Sisley v. Seattle School District (2011 in the Court of Appeals of Washington (state), Division 1)

Second, when administrators exercise prior review, students lose the opportunity to develop skill crucial to democracy, including the ability to recognize sound journalism and fake news. When students choose the content of their publications to please—or at least “get past”—administrators, they are denied the opportunity to apply what they learn in class about news values, ethics and press law.

In contrast, students who control the content of their publication regularly consider their audience’s right to know and individuals’ right to privacy. They judge the strength and reliability of sources. They strive to make their reporting fair and accurate. They come to cherish their audience’s trust and they admit mistakes, issue corrections and retractions, and live with the consequences. They are prepared to be responsible citizens as intelligent consumers of media.

There is no evidence that prior review by administration improves learning in any way.

 

 

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*In states under the Tinker standard, an administrator could restrain stories that pose a clear and present danger of inciting students to commit crimes on school premises or violate lawful school regulations, or substantially disrupt the orderly operation of the school. The administrator could also restrain stories that contain obscenity or slander/libel.

 

In the states that remain under Hazelwood, the administrator would need a “legitimate pedagogical concern.”

 

Resources:

QuickHits So what does Hazelwood actually allow administrators to do?

QuickHits The Perks of Being a Wallflower: How a School District Escaped a Lawsuit by Fostering an Independent Student Press.  Yeo v. Town of Lexington (1997) in the First Circuit Court of Appeals

Quickhits More Perks of Being a Wallflower: How two other School District Escaped Lawsuits by Fostering an Independent Student Press. Douglass v. Londonderry School District (2005) and Sisley v. Seattle School District (2011)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How should student media
handle academic dishonesty? QT56

Posted by on Apr 8, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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Dishonesty compromises the integrity and credibility of the student publication. The editorial board and/or adviser should address any instance of academic misconduct immediately.

Student editors should develop a clear process for handling academic dishonesty. Both media staff and school policies may dictate consequences for academic dishonesty. In addition to school consequences, other approaches could include removal or suspension from the media staff and publishing an apology.

Guidelines

Students should be honest in all stages of their work. Dishonesty is a serious offense and should not be tolerated. Dishonesty compromises the integrity and credibility of the student publication. The editorial board and/or adviser should address any instance of academic misconduct immediately.

Stance

Student editors should develop a clear process for handling academic dishonesty. Both media staff and school policies may dictate consequences for academic dishonesty. In addition to school consequences, other approaches could include removal or suspension from the media staff and publishing an apology.

Suggestions

In journalism, academic dishonesty is not limited to cheating and plagiarism. Issues especially relevant to student media include:

  • Fabrication — inventing quotes or other content
  • Non-contextual content — taking quotes, facts or other content out of their intended context in a way that misleads the audience
  • Manipulation of photos, video and text — editing or altering content in a way to change its meaning or misrepresent reality
  • Inadequate verification — failing to assure the veracity of information, quotes or facts for your story.

Resources

The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity, The Center for Academic Integrity

Journalism Department Code of Ethics and Conduct, San Francisco State University

The Medill Justice Project Ethics Book, Northwestern University

Our cheating culture: Plagiarism and fabrication are unacceptable in journalism, The Buttry Diary

Audio: Plagiarism, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee, Press Rights Minute

National Press Photographers Code of EthicsAudio: Creative Commons Licensing, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee, Press Rights Minute

 

 

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Celebration and grief: Parkland journalists embody importance of student voices during Scholastic Journalism Week

Posted by on Feb 28, 2018 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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by Kristin Taylor
Normally, Scholastic Journalism Week is about celebrating the hard work of student journalists around the country. JEA spotlights great student coverage, publications staffs wear journalism t-shirts and sweatshirts and show off their mastery of the First Amendment. We make videos to share the inner workings of student newsrooms and get our communities engaged and excited about that work.

But this Scholastic Journalism Week, as our nation reeled from yet another horrific school shooting, the last thing on the minds of student journalists at Stoneman Douglas High School was celebration.

If you haven’t already read Alexandria Neason and Meg Dalton’s Columbia Journalism Review article “In Parkland, journalism students take on role of reporter and survivor,” start there. It describes how Parkland students began to think like journalists even before they had fully evacuated, getting footage and interviewing classmates.

The article describes how newspaper adviser Melissa Falkowski texted her students the next day and “gently nudged them to start thinking about how they might cover the events rapidly unfolding around them,” and how staffers Nikhita Nookala and Christy Ma volunteered to write that first, difficult story, using a Google doc to collaborate from home.

It’s a story about student voice and resilience in the face of unspeakable horror.

I sent this article to all my journalism students and asked them to reflect on its implications, and the conversation we had the next day was powerful. My students expressed their admiration for Nookala, Ma and the other student journalists at Stoneman Douglas. They wondered if they would have the presence of mind to think like journalists in a crisis like that and admired Nookala’s statement that she needed to “do something” to help her community in such a difficult time.

We also looked closely at this passage, which describes one reason why Parkland student journalists felt compelled to report: “This was their story. And telling it was as much about ownership as it was about beginning what will undoubtedly be a difficult reckoning with their own trauma and grief.”

Is there a more powerful statement about the importance of scholastic journalism than that? Seeking the truth while minimizing the harm done to an already traumatized community, being reporters who are also survivors and using journalism to own their community’s stories — these student journalists’ voices were and are important during this crisis.

As a complement to the CJR article, my class also talked about the op-ed in Teen Vogue called “Black Teens Have Been Fighting for Gun Reform for Years.”

The piece asks hard questions about the outpouring of support that the #neveragain movement has received in comparison to the nation’s response to black youth groups “organizing anti-violence rallies…meeting with presidential candidates, proposing policy ideas, participating in national debates, and organizing intensely to advocate for more equitable state and federal gun laws that impact black and brown people.”

Regardless of their personal opinions, this second piece was a great opportunity to talk about the concept of media framing. What role do news organizations have in framing one group as heroic and another as disruptive? Are student newsrooms also guilty of this? Do they have diverse voices in their newsrooms to ensure multiple perspectives? Why are these conversations so crucial to have when deciding how to cover teen activism and national tragedies?

For me, the answer to these questions comes down to this year’s Scholastic Journalism Week theme: “Student Voice, Student Choice.” When we support our student journalists, we support their efforts to grapple with these difficult questions and report as fairly and accurately as they can, making hard decisions about what to cover and how to cover it.

As I’ve listened to commentators marvel at the articulateness and poise of the Parkland students, I have to shake my head. They are amazing, no doubt, but anyone who thinks it’s shocking that teenagers can speak and write well, whether as journalists or activists, hasn’t spent much time around teenagers lately.

I hope no student has to report on a tragedy like Stoneman Douglas again, but I have every confidence they can if they have to.  Our job as advisers is to teach our students journalistic skills and ethics, empower them to own their stories and then get out of the way.

There is no truer celebration of Scholastic Journalism Week than that.

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Handling sponsored content, native ads QT52  

Posted by on Feb 27, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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Although it is quite possible scholastic media will never face making a decision to run material known as sponsored content or native ads, students and advisers should prepare guidelines just in case.

Sponsored content and native advertising, two media terms for paid materials, are becoming a fact of life for media and consumers. That said, student media, when faced with publishing them, should act carefully and with the best interests of the audience/consumer first.

Scholastic media owe it to their audiences to expect clearly sourced and non-slanted information, particularly with so much concern with fake news.

Guideline

In the last several years, commercial media have faced a new kind of paid content — “native advertising” or “sponsored content.” The goal with this content is to provide advertising in a way that mimics the look and style of news/editorial content instead of appearing as traditional advertising. This style of advertising has raised serious ethical issues and discussion.

Given the influx of this type of advertising and its spread into scholastic media, students should remember their obligation to keep their communities aware of what kind of content they are publishing.

Communities need to know the type content they are exposed to so they can make informed and rational decisions.

Question: Should your student media accept sponsored content?

Key points/action: Sponsored content and native advertising, two media terms for paid materials, are becoming a fact of life for media and consumers. That said, student media, when faced with publishing them, should act carefully and with the best interests of the audience/consumer first.

Since it is financed ads or reporting, it can be fake news or at least deceptive information, and approached carefully.

Stance: We believe sponsored content can be accepted and published while still protecting the integrity and credibility of student media.

Reasoning/suggestions: Students must create clear guidelines for publishing sponsored content. Recommendation for inclusion in those guidelines should include:

  • Prominent and clear identification of the piece as sponsored content.
  • A clear statement, at least on the op-ed pages or their equivalent, of why your student media publish sponsored content and who paid for the piece or benefits from its publication.
  • Verification, as much as is possible, of the credibility and factualness of information and sources in the piece.
  • A concise statement, at least on the op-ed pages or their equivalent, that what your editorial board’s support of included material is Ex: this content does not necessarily represent the view of your media or school system).Resources:

Making Memories, One Lie at a Time (example of native ad), Slate Web magazine
New York Times Tones Down Labeling on Its Sponsored Posts, Advertising Age
Native Advertising Examples: 5 or the Best (and Worst), WordStream Online Advertising
The Native Advertising Playbook, Interactive Advertising Bureau
Audio: Sponsored Content, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee, Press Rights Minute
PR Giant Edelman Calls for Ethics in Sponsored Content, Forbes
FTC: Publishers Will Be Held Responsible for Misleading native Ads, Adexchanger.com

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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Handling controversial ads/content QT51

Posted by on Feb 25, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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Student media should not discriminate against advertising based on students’ personal beliefs.

For example, students should attempt to include advertisers from multiple perspectives. According to the federal court decision in Yeo v. Lexington, student editors have the right to reject advertisements and school administrators are not legally responsible for advertising decisions students make.

A potential advertiser proposes an ad for your student media concerning a controversial product or service — tanning salons, for example. It’s money, but you also know recent studies show the possible harmful effects of such tanning.

How do you handle the request? What obligations do you have in terms of social responsibility, ethics and health-related issues. Likewise, you may be presented with an ad for an organization many in your staff or student body do not support.

The best path to resolve those questions and face the issues is to prepare for them ahead of time.

Guidelines: Students should not discriminate against advertising based on their personal beliefs. For example, students should attempt to include advertisers from multiple perspectives. According to the federal court decision in Yeo v. Lexington, student editors have the right to reject advertisements and school administrators are not legally responsible for advertising decisions students make.

Question: Should there be a point when media don’t accept ads?

Key points/action: A potential advertiser proposes an ad for your student media concerning a controversial product or service — tanning salons, for example. It’s money, but you also know recent studies show the possible harmful effects of such tanning.

How do you handle the request? What obligations do you have in terms of social responsibility, ethics and health-related issues. Likewise, you may be presented with an ad for an organization many in your staff or student body do not support.

The best path to resolve those questions and face the issues is to prepare for them ahead of time.

Stance: While there are no quick and easy answers, you can build ethical room for discussion by anticipating the issues.

Reasoning/suggestions: First, is it a right v wrong situation? That’s easy. If a right v right ethical situation, then you should have a process of weighing issues.

Develop a set of criteria best suited to your school and its communities. Whose values are the most crucial to the communities? Harm no one? Free expression? Credible information and from which point of view?

Our recommendation is to develop an ethical guideline outlining your key values and then develop a checklist to help students through the decision-making process.

Resources: SPLC Advertising FAQs

Yeo v. Lexington

SPRC: Advertising

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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