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Censored news is fake news

Posted by on Jan 8, 2017 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Hazelwood, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Censored news is fake news.

Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, wrote that in Fake News, Real Solutions recently. He said the first wave of responses to fake news does not cure the underlying problem.

We agree wholeheartedly.

LoMonte blamed part of the problem on an educational system that tells students across the country to “publish only news that flatters government officials and reflects favorably on government policies.”

Censored news is fake news.

Such censored news at least partly stems from the 1988 U.S. Supreme Court’s Hazelwood decision.

LoMonte suggested the way to fight the fake news epidemic is to ensure educational institutions inoculate their students and don’t spread the virus.

That inoculation comes from more freedom, not less; more journalistic responsibility, not less; and from solid practice of ethical journalism.

As journalism groups strive to fight fake news in many ways, let’s begin in our schools by identifying at least four types of fake news:
• Information meant to deceive
• Information generated through sloppy and incomplete reporting
• Information not clearly identified as sponsored news
• Information spread by censored media

Follow JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee and others over the next several months as we examine the issue of fake news, identify the problems it creates and seek solutions so scholastic journalism can lead in the fight against fake news and its impact.

Noteable resources:
• Evaluating information: The cornerstone of civic online reasoning
• Students have ‘dismaying’ inability to tell fake news from real, study shows
• A guide to spotting fake news
The dangers of crying wolf with ‘post-truth’
How to spot fake news
• A savvy news consumer’s guide: How not to get duped
Many Americans believe fake news is sowing confusion



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Honor – and elevate – all programs
during Scholastic Journalism Week

Posted by on Feb 18, 2015 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Hazelwood, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


by John Bowen
With Scholastic Journalism Week starting Feb. 22, it would serve us well to note SPLC executive Frank LoMonte’s words in this week’s Education Week.

LoMonte covers a number of points he suggests disrespect and trivialize high school journalism: mistreating female scholastic journalists, establishing the lowest, barely legal level of freedom for scholastic media and undermining the news-literacy obligation of a high school education.

As we rightfully celebrate our strengths in scholastic journalism next week, we should also heed LoMonte’s points so we help others reach the levels of scholastic journalism programs we honor.

Check out a story here about such a situation where the principal  is quoted as saying, “The school paper here at school is mine to control.”

Examine LoMonte’s thoughts, compare with the comments of the principal, and commit ourselves to elevate all journalism programs as they strive to reach the uncensored educational quality of the ones we honor most.

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In case you missed Mary Beth Tinker
students provide solid coverage

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Uncategorized | 0 comments


Editor’s note: The following is the introduction to Mary Beth Tinker at Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif. It is used here with permission in an effort to reach as many people as possible.

Kavleen Singh, co-editor-in-chief, The Roar introduced Mary Beth Tinker and the Tinker tour April 1  at Whitney High School.
Here is her speech:
We listen, we read, and we speak. How do we do all of that? With words. The string of sounds and syllables we convert into meaningful messages is the most prominent outlet in expressing one’s thoughts.
There’s great power that comes with the mastery of words, and it can cause a massive uproar. Just over the past few years, Egypt and Tunisia incited a revolution that was fueled through Twitter and Facebook. Both social media outlets are traversed with words. But here in the United States, we have a protection for words that many countries unfortunately do not. We have the First Amendment.
It is through the 45 words of the First Amendment that we are granted a voice in society, free to speak our minds and participate in a melting pot of diverse opinions and clash constructively with others. There have been challenges throughout history regarding the First Amendment, and few are more prominent than that of the 1969 Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines. As a freshman in Journalism I class, I learned about the Tinker case and how the courage of Mary Beth Tinker led to the high court setting a precedent that would forever impact students. In the decision, Justice Abe Fortas said, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
Now, as I stand before you as editor-in-chief and a much more experienced journalist, I can better appreciate that protection. In my four years with Whitney High Student Media, we have reported on two teacher arrests, bullying, online privacy, struggles with sexuality, smoking, body image, suicide, depression and a variety of other stories important to our readers. I am grateful for the freedom of speech and of the press afforded to us by the First Amendment and the California Educational Code that supports us in this responsibility. I also am grateful to have the resources available from the Student Press Law Center and to know that outside the gates of our school, other journalists are working just as hard to tell the important stories at their school — stories that take courage to find, hear, and deliver with fairness and accuracy to help improve communities and their audiences all around the world.
It is my honor and absolute pleasure to present free speech activist Mary Beth Tinker.
– Kavleen Singh, co-editor-in-chief, The Roar
Whitney High Student Media; Rocklin, Calif.

Journalism students at Whitney also published Storify coverage of the Tinker Tour here. Consider using Storify as another way to report events. News coverage can be read here and photo gallery coverage here .

The Tinker Tour also stopped April 2 at Monta Vista High School, and included a panel discussion with Tinker, Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center and Nick Ferentinos, retired adviser whose students won a post-Hazelwood censorship battle. Two Monta Vista students who successfully defied a subpoena earlier this year using the California shield laws also spoke.

Tomorrow, April 3, journalism students will  live stream the Tinker Tour assembly from Convent of the Sacred Heart HS in San Francisco at 10:45 PDT. At the end, student journalists will take questions hashtagged #TinkerTourSF via Twitter.

Coverage can be accessed here.
For those of you in PRIVATE SCHOOLS, this is your chance to get in questions specific to your situation. (But everyone else should feel free to logon, too
For those in PRIVATE SCHOOLS, this is your chance to get in questions specific to your situation.
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Tinker Tour theme opens at OSMA

Posted by on Oct 1, 2013 in Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Uncategorized | 0 comments


MBT-60sAs Gabby, the Tinker Tour bus, wheeled into town for a stop at Kent State University Oct. 1, we became aware of another way to celebrate Mary Beth Tinker, Mike Hiestand and the myriad of student journalists, their advisers and families who endorse and support the idea that the Constitution and the right of free expression applies to students.


The Tinker Tour Theme Song.

With lyrics and music created by SPLC Executive Director Frank LoMonte, performed by California’s Carlsbad High School Chamber Singers, filmed and edited by the school’s television students, the song premiered  immediately following Tinker’s keynote presentation at the Ohio Scholastic Media Association’s Region 1 Conference.

Interact with the Tinker Tour on Twitter @tinkertour and follow them online here.



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Students forced to publish censored paper

Posted by on Nov 24, 2009 in Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Turkeys in the news tomorrow may not be just on people’s plates.

Lately, some have been dressed as administrators at Stevenson High in Lincolnshire, Illinois.

First, school officials’ objections held up the paper’s initial release. Then they forced journalism students to remove  several stories and several pages from the latest issue.

Next, administrators demanded the issue run despite student objections. According to information in the Daily Herald and Chicago Tribune, administrators wouldn’t allow students to remove their bylines from the stories and threatened to fail the student journalists if they did not do as told.

Prior review, administrators said last year when a previous dispute occurred, would only last a short time.

They were right about one thing. Review is now prior restraint of the least educationally defensible kind.

Executive director of the Student Press Law center, Frank LoMonte, called administrative actions a confession that they had lied.

Stevenson’s conduct today is a confession that its administrators lied when they claimed in a press release last week that they had problems with only one story in the Statesman,” he said. “We trust that the school board will immediately investigate the source of this intentionally false public statement and will remove any employee who played a role in distributing it.

LoMonte also praised student editors.

“Student editors have dealt with Stevenson in an honest, professional and restrained manner, attempting to work out a peaceful resolution. Their reward for it was a sucker-punch in the gut. To threaten the highest-achieving students in the school with flunking journalism, potentially endangering their college careers, simply confirms that Stevenson puts its image ahead of the well-being of its students. When a school tries this hard to silence student journalism, the public should start asking hard questions about what is going on at Stevenson High School that its administrators are so desperate to conceal.”

This Thanksgiving the communities that send their students to Stevenson definitely may want to be thinking of ways to deal with these leftover turkeys.

For related reporting and coverage, go here, here, here and here.

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