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Panic Button


If you are a journalism teacher, student media adviser or scholastic media/journalism student who needs assistance concerning censorship issues, use the panic button above to generate an online form to explain your situation. This will go to a Student Press Rights Commission member who will assist you quickly and notify others in your state so they can offer assistance. This outreach capability is a direct result of JEA’s Adviser Assistance Program and is designed to combat censorship issues advisers and students might face.

Resources for Panic Button

• A conversation about prior review
• A process for developing editorial policies that mean something

• JEA model editorial policy

• JEA Adviser Code of Ethics

• Guidelines, recommendations for advisers facing prior review

• Lessons on handling prior review; lessons on designating your publication as a public forum

• Questions to ask those who prior review

Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism

Quick ways to avoid the big C (censorship):

• Be accurate in your reporting is a key requisite for good reporting. The slightest error or omission or grammar mistake can persuade a reader the reporting is flawed. It can also give those who want to control reporting an opportunity to do so by citing obvious flaws. Your credibility is built on how accurate you can be. Prior review and censorship are only designed to limit or destroy accuracy.

• Be thorough and complete in your reporting as sometimes it is not enough to just present information but also to put that information in perspective. What seems like a single issue of point today might have a long history that completes the information audiences need to make informed decisions. Reporting can be slanted by omission as much as by viewpoint, so be thorough in finding all relevant information.

• Use multiple and credible sources to give all stakeholders a voice. Find the best and most credible resources – live and nonlive – to help tell and show all angles and all affected. Think ahead to what questions audiences might have and try to answer them all. All relevant viewpoints should have a voice. The more credible and reliable sources used, the more comprehensive and effective the reporting.

• Follow professional standards that include legal and ethical approaches that are defendable. Just because students can report a story does not mean they should; just because administrators can call for prior review and restraint (censorship) does not mean they should. Work to find common definitions of journalism, journalistic responsibility and accountability and then practice them.

• Think through the implications of what your students are reporting, how they are reporting it and why they are reporting it. It is the adviser’s job to help students think along these lines. Think of the possible danger points but instead of creating red lights empower green lights that support successful publication of information. Anticipate what challenges or questions various audiences might raise and know how to respond.

• Know your audience: Although no topic is automatically taboo, how the topic is covered should result from a knowledge of the audience, including their ages and cultural sensitivities.  A written description of the audience will help the student staff decide how to report the subject and help prioritize elements of coverage,  headlines, web teasers,  language use and graphic presentation of information.  For instance, how young is the youngest member of the audience?  Do not assume the audience shares staffers sense of humor, has consumed the same media staffers consume nor are as sophisticated.

Additional essential resources for legal and ethical information and guidance:

Student Press Law Center is the premier site for legal and ethical advice, detailed information and the ability to ask legal expert question. The information is vast, with soon-to-be-added lesson plan and teaching resources.

Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press is an excellent Web site and resource for a myriad of information about legal and ethical issues as well as reporting and information gathering issues.