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Student journalists are the real deal

Posted by on Nov 4, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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As editor Gillian McGoldrick and former editor Tanvi Kumar tell their stories to NPR co-host Audie Cornish, another former student who stood up for her right so speak — Mary Beth Tinker — tapes the presentation. (photo by John Bowen)

by Cyndi Hyatt
A few weeks back a student reporter asked a school administrator if she could cover a school-related banquet at a local country club, an event much touted and advertised.

Sure was the response, but she would have to buy a ticket.  

She was not expecting that response, nor was I.  After some adviser-led investigation and nudging, the reporter was granted access to the event and the story appeared in the latest issue of the newspaper.  

The student reporter was even approached by the district’s public relations people for photos to use on the district website and in press-releases.

But what got me thinking was the initial assumption about her – that a student reporter was not a “real” reporter.

And that is a gross misconception to say the least.

Would the response be the same if the local news van showed up to cover the story?  I doubt they would have had to dish out $100.00 for entrance to the event. I imagine the organizers would have welcomed the professional media, grateful for the coverage.  

And, as it turned out, the only coverage was from the school student-run newspaper.

Facing the challenge of having students recognized as legitimate, trained journalists will never go away, but this most recent incident had me thinking of three steps we take every year to help others recognize the credibility of our young journalists.

  1. Press passes for everyone.  Each year we have our photography editor take head shots of all staff.  A local printer makes us complementary color photos so all we pay for are the sleeves and the logo lanyards.  All passes are dated and signed by the advisers.
  2. Staff apparel.   Student reporters are identified further as journalists by the tee-shirt or fleece jacket they wear to events.  It’s a uniform approach, recognizable in school and community.
  3. Assertion.   In the case of a paid event, our students are encouraged to approach the organizers with a statement rather than a question.  “We would like to cover your event Saturday” is a lot stronger that “May we come to your event on Saturday?” A few adjustments in language can make a difference.

A solid student journalism program needs to command the respect it deserves.  Don’t settle for no when you are doing the community a service, telling others’ stories or spreading the news.

Look the part and be assertive. The results are worth it.

 

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The importance of linking to reporting

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

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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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Transparency

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

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Transparency maintains credibility, strengthens reporting

Guideline

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.).

Question:

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

Stance:

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

Reasoning/suggestions:

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).

Resources:

Related:Attribution & Objectivity

 

 

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Credibility strengthened with
use of sources in opinion pieces

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

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Writers should show they have done research and interviews in opinion pieces just as they do in objective reporting.

Doing this provides credibility and authority to their views. It also shows audiences the students are informed on the issue.

Each opinion story should show sufficient research which has informed the writer’s viewpoint.

Include sources in opinion writing for credibility, verification

Guideline:

In opinion stories, writers should demonstrate they have done sufficient research and interviews to inform themselves of all sides of the issue for which they are writing and/or to allow for right of response from subjects who may be mentioned in the story.

Social media post/question:

Why do I need to include sources if it’s my opinion?

Stance:

The writer of an exemplar opinion story should have sources including in-person responses from stakeholders, sourced quotes from other publications or sourced background information.

Reasoning/suggestions:

Students often view the opinion pages of the newspaper as an easier assignment because the incorrectly assume all they have to do is write their opinion.

To maintain credibility with their readers and/or to show balance, publication staffers must show they have made every effort to inform themselves of all sides of the issue. They also must reach out to experts or stakeholders who may add to their story and/or who may be challenged by their story. Consider adding in, as one of your guidelines, that each opinion story should show sufficient research which has informed the writer’s viewpoint.

Resources:

Persuasive writing: Take a stand

How to write an op-ed or column

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Time for informed civic engagement

Posted by on Aug 20, 2018 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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2018 is the season of the which

by John Bowen, MJE

Student journalists must learn to face key questions this fall, not only in terms of scholastic media but also in terms of informed civic engagement:

For example, which information inundating them deserves their belief and active support and which deserves their active skepticism:
• Which version of the truth about collusion in the issues surrounding election meddling?
• Which vision of what America stands for will prevail in the 2018 midterm elections?
• Which political, social, scientific, medical, cultural and educational positions most accurately present reality?
• Which skills will students develop so they cannot only tell the difference between information, misinformation and disinformation but act successfully on those differences?

Responding and acting on these questions – and others below – are among the SPRC’s mission this year.

In other words, when students question authority, as citizens or journalists, they must also question what authority said, authorities’ credibility and reliability and what authority has to gain.

Some call this skeptical knowing or learning. Not cynicism. Not the attack dog theory of media.

The watchdog.

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