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Tweet25- Paying the cost of Hazelwood

Posted by on Feb 7, 2013 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Uncategorized | 0 comments


Tweet-25 Information coherence and civic engagement cannot develop under Hazelwood. #25HZLWD

by John Bowen
Information coherence is at the core of democracy.


Information coherence allows those in a democracy to compare, digest and use information. With it, communities can make informed and intelligent decisions.

Without it, communities falter.

Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in The Elements of Journalism also refer to this approach as one that allows audiences to make sense of information.

“Coherence,” the authors write, is “making sense of the facts. Coherence must be the ultimate test of journalistic truth.”

Accuracy, they write, is the foundation on which everything else – context, interpretation, debate, public communication and trust – is built.

Journalistic truth is a process, they say.

“If the foundation is faulty, everything else is flawed,” they say.

Neither the journalistic process nor information coherence works under an educational system guided by foggy and manipulative Hazelwood thinking, where prior review and prior restraint keep information from making sense, silence debate and undermine trust.

Information coherence is been a priority in schools and communities where 25 years of Hazelwood have limited – or should we say strangled – exchange of ideas and development of information coherence.

We could call it the cost of Hazelwood. Unless cured, this cost of Hazelwood has been, and will continue to be, high.

This cost includes:
• Citizens who do not trust authority figures because they never were involved with decision making in a learning environment
• Citizens who do not trust information authority presents because their background has shown them it has always been slanted or incomplete
• Citizens who do not participate in civic engagement because they have taught or have experienced education in which they had no voice
• Citizens who cannot respect the principles and actions of a free and responsible press because they have never seen one in their schools.

Given this heritage, these costs will only deepen in the future as schools reach out to control expression outside the school environment because untrained students misuse social media and the Internet to bully others.

We must, as the Student Press Law Center says, develop a cure for Hazelwood, one that empowers students to practice the essential freedoms and skills of a democracy, and become engaged with decision-making that creates an impact on their lives and on the lives of others.

We honor schools which have not paid Hazelwood’s price. We salute these schools and celebrate their leaders, whether administrators or community members, for actions leading to the path of learning and civic enrichment.

But, in the end, we have not done enough. It is not enough to note that Hazelwood has led to a decline in information coherence as well as in civic engagement. If we have not tried to intercede in this process in and outside schools, then we are, in many ways, responsible for it.

Others in this series have said it well: Hazelwood is, has been and will continue to be everyone’s problem.

Its effects will only continue unless we do all in our power to educate ourselves, our students and our communities about why we must have a Hazelwood Cure.

And then work to create one.

If we continue to ignore Hazelwood’s cost, if we do not seek a cure, then we bear the burden of responsibility for the lack of action that enables such cultural malaise to continue.

To do nothing to is chose.

What will be at the core of your plan of action?  What will you do to empower a Hazelwood Cure?

• Press Freedom in Practice
• Cure Hazelwood
• Resources for school newspaper advisers
• Media Adviser’s Forum
• Scholastic Journalism Resources
• Statements
• Teaching and learning about journalism
• Scholastic journalism resources
• High school journalism

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The power of choosing the right words – and images

Posted by on Sep 21, 2010 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Whether it’s news about a tornado that hit New York City recently, the use of mosque in stories about the World trade Center or just how scholastic journalists refer to those they report, choosing the right words, and knowing their various meanings, is just another example of ethical decision making.

Consider these articles as classroom guideposts on content and ethical issues:

• In Six Lessons for Journalists and Consumers in Statue of Liberty Tornado Photo, a Making Sense blog at Poynter, Steve Myers urged journalists to be skeptical when presented with being “scooped.” Points he makes include “Check your source” and “apply a critical eye” because if we don’t “our readers will.”

“It’s hard to pick up on subtext in e-mails,” he writes. “It’s even harder to do so on Twitter, where earnest, nutjob and ironic tweets all look the same — especially to strangers.”

• Poynter’s Roy Peter Clark, in one of his Writing Tools pieces, talks about the language use, in particular the difference between denotation and connotation. Word associations, he quotes himself from The Glamor of Grammar, “The fair choice of words is one of the most important and common challenges in American speech, writing and politics.” Clark stresses that word choices can be loaded even when the reporter does not intend to create an editorial view.

• To tie it all together, teach from this 2005 post by Clark, Red Light, Green Light: A Plea For Balance in Media Ethics.

“Language, we know, reflects reality, but also helps define it,” Clark wrote then. “The words we choose will determine how journalists and the public see the world ethically.”

His words apply today, if not even more so.

The power of words is immense. Let’s learn to empower to our sense of freedom by using words to enlighten and illuminate accurately, not to trivialize or sensationalize.

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