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Playing in the court of public opinion

Posted by on Apr 25, 2010 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Students and friends of student media in Washington’s Puyallup school district are ready to take the next step in their fight against prior review since a jury declared they had not invaded students’ privacy and the school had no liability in a story about oral sex.

Their next fight will be in the court of public opinion.

Student journalists in the three schools have set up a Facebook site in preparation for an organizational meeting May 3 to urge local schools to drop prior review from Puyallup publication policies. The site has 300 plus friends.

They also have a Twitter site.

They are psyched and have T-shirts, buttons and flyers.

They have talked to Henry Rome, 2009 JEA Journalist of the Year who, with other students in his community started a website to convince his school not to implement prior review.

The Friends of the Spoke won. The Conestoga High students also presented a session at the Portland JEA/NSPA convention  about how others could duplicate their feat. Rome also addressed the convention about their fight. Their website also has information on the resources they used in an effort to change the board’s views.

Now, the Puyallup students will try to do the same.

Check out their website. Join their cause. Consider such action if you face prior review.

Prior review – which leads only to prior restraint –has no educational value. Help end it in Puyallup’s schools.

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DC: Truly inspiring

Posted by on Nov 16, 2009 in Blog, News | 0 comments


After the past couple of months of news on this blog, it would be easy to be despondent.
Student work being censored for laughable reasons. Advisers having their authority usurped. Creativity being stifled.
As it always does, the JEA/NSPA national convention, has energized me. Sitting in the SPRC panel on Saturday, we had the good fortune to meet with a courageous group of students who are undergoing censorship, but who are seeking out the information and ammunition to fight these attempts to deprive them of their rights.
They came armed with information and questions, with emotion and with resolve. I’m hopeful the students who showed up and sought knowledge from those of us assembled were happy with what was provided. I also hope they continue to stay in touch with the SPRC and let us help them in their struggles.
Seeing Henry Rome and Seth Zweifler, from Conestoga, Pa., win award after award for their work administrators sought to quash was similarly energizing. As was hearing Al Leonard, a principal who gets it, speak to those assembled at the panel and hopefully provide the assembled students with hope that there are some principals who seek to nurture the First Amendment rather than strangle it.
It’s not easy to stand up to an administrator as a teacher. It’s tough to imagine what it’s like as a teenage journalist. Administrators are pretty well counting on the fact that students will not be aware of their rights and will cede to their authority.
But it fills me with hope for the cause this blog is here to promote – scholastic press rights – that these brave students are so willing and passionate to stand up and fight for what is right.

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