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Quick Tips…because you asked

Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Blog, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


by John Bowen
Because of questions asked on JEA’s listserv this week, the Scholastic Press Rights Committee reposts information and guidelines from earlier content ownership and takedown guidelines.

To repost links to these materials, we will use a new format, Quick Tips, designed to respond to questions, offer suggestions and provide resources so advisers and students can make informed decisions.

Rather than term these approaches as policy suggestions, we like to refer to them as guidelines for ethical decision making and procedures to apply the ethical process.

Here are Quick Tips responses to concerns about ownership of student media content and takedown demands.

Quick Tips: Content ownership
Question: Who owns the content of student media and why should this be a concern?

Key points/action: Advisers asked several questions this week about who should own content of student media, what the possibilities were and what steps are involved in the decision-making process.

Stancec:Deciding who owns content of student media should be an important decisions for all platforms and programs. Contained within that decision are implications for the forum concept, how content can be used and by whom and on takedown demands.

Reasoning/suggestions: Students, with input from advisers, should pick a solution that best fits their situation. The choices are students own rights to content with granting access to student media for its use or student media owns the content with access rights to students.

For multiple reasons it is not a good idea to have the school own student media content.

Resource: Who owns student-produced content?

Quick Hits: Takedown demands
Question: When and why should student media take down content, in print or online?

Key points/action: Source’s remorse, writer’s second-thoughts or other rethinking of existing information accessible to employers, colleges or simply to friends sometimes causes uncomfortable questions for student staffs.

What guidelines should student media staffers adapt or create that fulfills the role of historical-record, forum and source of information.

Stance: We feel there are no quick and easy answers, but plenty  of ethical room for discussion and implementation of workable guidelines (not policy) that can withstand the test of time.

Reasoning/suggestions: Policies are not meant to be easily changeable as are journalistic tools and process. Guidelines give flexibility for changing conditions and room for students to make ethical decisions.

ResourcesTakedown demands? A roadmap of choices

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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JEA-SPRC, SPLC condemn Neshaminy school district for
punishing newspaper editor, adviser
in ongoing fight over ‘Redskins’ name

Posted by on Sep 17, 2014 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments



The Student Press Law Center and Journalism Education Association Scholastic Press Rights Commission condemned the actions of the Neshaminy School District in Pennsylvania Wednesday, following the District’s retaliatory and illegal actions calculated to punish thePlaywickian student newspaper, its editors and its adviser.

In response to an editorial board decision not to print the word “Redskins” because of its use as a racial slur, the administration handed down a decision this week to pull $1,200 of funding from the publication; to suspend its adviser, Tara Huber, for two days; and to suspend Editor-in-Chief Gillian McGoldrick from the newspaper until the end of September.

It has long been the law of this country that no government official can compel a student to speak or adopt words with which she disagrees. West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943). Imposing discipline for refusing to participate in the use of a racial slur is not only unconstitutional; it is un-American in the extreme.

These actions come at a time when a transparently illegal publications policy remains on the books at the District level, one that also purports to compel the use of certain words and attempts to hijack ownership of student work. These are, at their core, bullying tactics—forcing people to say words, then turn over their property.

Competent educators of good conscience would never resort to bullying tactics to perpetuate any ideology, let alone a racially offensive one.

We encourage the students to explore their legal options and urge the State of Pennsylvania to investigate whether the Neshaminy School Board members should be removed.


Frank LoMonte, Executive Director, Student Press Law Center
703.807.1904 /

John Bowen, Director, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Commission
330.676.3666 /

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