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Handling sponsored content, native ads QT52  

Posted by on Feb 27, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Although it is quite possible scholastic media will never face making a decision to run material known as sponsored content or native ads, students and advisers should prepare guidelines just in case.

Sponsored content and native advertising, two media terms for paid materials, are becoming a fact of life for media and consumers. That said, student media, when faced with publishing them, should act carefully and with the best interests of the audience/consumer first.

Scholastic media owe it to their audiences to expect clearly sourced and non-slanted information, particularly with so much concern with fake news.


In the last several years, commercial media have faced a new kind of paid content — “native advertising” or “sponsored content.” The goal with this content is to provide advertising in a way that mimics the look and style of news/editorial content instead of appearing as traditional advertising. This style of advertising has raised serious ethical issues and discussion.

Given the influx of this type of advertising and its spread into scholastic media, students should remember their obligation to keep their communities aware of what kind of content they are publishing.

Communities need to know the type content they are exposed to so they can make informed and rational decisions.

Question: Should your student media accept sponsored content?

Key points/action: Sponsored content and native advertising, two media terms for paid materials, are becoming a fact of life for media and consumers. That said, student media, when faced with publishing them, should act carefully and with the best interests of the audience/consumer first.

Since it is financed ads or reporting, it can be fake news or at least deceptive information, and approached carefully.

Stance: We believe sponsored content can be accepted and published while still protecting the integrity and credibility of student media.

Reasoning/suggestions: Students must create clear guidelines for publishing sponsored content. Recommendation for inclusion in those guidelines should include:

  • Prominent and clear identification of the piece as sponsored content.
  • A clear statement, at least on the op-ed pages or their equivalent, of why your student media publish sponsored content and who paid for the piece or benefits from its publication.
  • Verification, as much as is possible, of the credibility and factualness of information and sources in the piece.
  • A concise statement, at least on the op-ed pages or their equivalent, that what your editorial board’s support of included material is Ex: this content does not necessarily represent the view of your media or school system).Resources:

Making Memories, One Lie at a Time (example of native ad), Slate Web magazine
New York Times Tones Down Labeling on Its Sponsored Posts, Advertising Age
Native Advertising Examples: 5 or the Best (and Worst), WordStream Online Advertising
The Native Advertising Playbook, Interactive Advertising Bureau
Audio: Sponsored Content, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee, Press Rights Minute
PR Giant Edelman Calls for Ethics in Sponsored Content, Forbes
FTC: Publishers Will Be Held Responsible for Misleading native Ads,

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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Introduction to news literacy

Posted by on Aug 22, 2017 in Blog, Lessons, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


by Kristin Taylor


Introduction to News Literacy


In order for students to understand the importance of the freedom of speech and freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment, they must understand the responsibilities that come along with this freedom. It is not enough to have a free press — we must be able to evaluate our news and vary our news diets. This lesson provides a foundational understanding of news media literacy and asks students to reflect on their own news media habits to escape our filter bubbles and avoid fake news. Although this lesson is formatted here as a 60-minute class period, it can be approached in a number of ways. The presentation could happen in specific classes (social studies, English, etc.) or to groups of students (school assembly, class meeting, advisory groups) with the discussion happening immediately or in a follow-up class.


  • Students will be able to define and explain the difference between traditional news sources, non-traditional news sources, news aggregators, partisan news sources and fake news sources.
  • Students will be able to define and explain the difference between objective news, news analysis, opinion and native ads/sponsored content.
  • Students will be able to evaluate the importance of news media literacy in a democratic society.
  • Students will reflect on and evaluate their own news media literacy to determine how they should continue or change their current news habits.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1.C Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.



60 minutes

Materials / resources

Whiteboard and markers

Teacher laptop and digital projector

Handout: TrumpBriefings_newslit.pdf (used with written permission from National Report)

Slideshow: Intro to News Media Literacy

Discussion questions can be projected on the board or handed out to small groups.

Lesson step-by-step

Step 1 —  Warm up (10 minutes)

As students arrive, hand out copies of the (fake) news story “Trump to limit all intelligence briefings to 140 characters” (TrumpBriefings_newslit.pdf). Have students look at the article and ask for reactions. Is this a real story or is it fake? How do they know? If students have access to laptops or phones and go to Google this story or site, let them — the internet is the central verification tool for 21st century news consumers.

After a few minutes, of investigation and discussion, have students share why they think it is or is not fake. Then reveal that this is a fake news article and tell students that today’s class will focus on understanding different types of news sources and becoming more news literate consumers.

Step 2 — Lecture and class discussion (40 minutes)

Use the framing slideshow (with instructor notes) to discuss how the media frames the news.

Step 3 — Small group discussion (10 minutes)

Questions for small group discussion

  1. What did you learn from today’s presentation that you didn’t know before? Will this new knowledge affect the way you think about or consume news?
  2. Why do you think so many teenagers are fooled by fake news and images?
  3. Have you ever reposted an article without reading it? What is the danger of relying on headlines or assuming someone else has verified the content before you share it?
  4. Part of being a responsible citizen in a democracy is being informed. What is your media diet? Do you consume credible news sources? Do you read local news (student-run school publications, local news sources)? Why or why not?
  5. Evaluate your own news media literacy. What are you doing right? What else do you need to do to be more news literate?


Students should create a ticket-to-leave with one concept they understand about the news that they didn’t understand before and one question they still have. The teacher will collect these as they leave to plan for follow-up and clarification as needed.


Students could watch this 10 minute 2011 TED talk about “online filter bubbles” by Eli Pariser — he predicted our online experience would become more and more polarized as sites like Facebook and search engines like Google use algorithms to personalize our digital experience. Do you think his predictions have come true? What can we do to get outside our own filter bubbles?

Additional Resources



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JEA statement on student free expression
in a vibrant and flourishing democracy

Posted by on Apr 9, 2017 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


The Journalism Education Association, at its board meeting in Seattle Washington April 6, unanimously passed the following statement:

To address current negativity toward news media in general and misunderstanding of its roles in a democracy, the Journalism Education Association reiterates its principles and practices that nourish a lifelong commitment for a vibrant and flourishing democracy.

We strongly believe free student expression as taught and practiced in journalism classes anchors successful scholastic media. So empowered, our programs showcase the importance of news and media literacy, civic engagement, critical thinking and decision-making as the core of lifelong involvement in a democracy.

To protect our democracy and its principles:

  • JEA reaffirms its position that the practice of journalism is an important form of public service to prepare students as engaged, civic-minded citizens who are also discerning information creators and users.
  • JEA will recognize, promote and support strong editorial policies with each media outlet as a designated public forum for student expression where students make all final content decisions without prior review or restraint.
  • JEA will encourage all journalism teachers and advisers to strongly encourage diversity, accuracy and thoroughness in content so student media reflect and make sense to communities they serve.
  • JEA will produce sample editorial policies and accompany them with model ethical guidelines and staff manual procedures that enhance and implement journalistically responsible decisions across media platforms.
  • JEA will encourage journalism teachers and media advisers, even if they must teach and advise under prior review or restraint, to recognize how educationally unsound and democratically unstable these policies and rules are.
  • JEA will insist student free expression not be limited by claims related to program funding or equipment use. Instead, journalism programs should showcase student civic engagement and practice democratic principles no matter what media platform is used.
  • JEA will demonstrate, to communities in and out of school, through its actions, policies, programs and budgeting, its commitment to an informed, vibrant nation where free expression is expected and practiced as part of our diverse American heritage.

Additionally, we believe groups we partner with and endorse should faithfully support principles of free student expression for student media.

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What our tech-savvy kids don’t know

Posted by on Nov 28, 2016 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 1 comment


by Candace Bowen, MJE
Foundations_mainThey may be digital natives with instincts that allow them to use the latest app and easily share photos and video on social media platforms, but when it comes to evaluating information they access on the web, those from middle school through college aren’t nearly as knowledgeable as some might think.

In fact, they can’t tell an ad from a news story or hate group propaganda from factual material from a respected news outlet. In fact, the Stanford History Education Group described students’ reasoning ability when it comes to Internet information as “bleak.”

The group’s 18-month project, “Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning,” looked at “the ability to judge the credibility of information that floods young people’s smartphones, tablets and computers.”

From January 2015 to June 2016, the researchers developed and administered assessments to 7,804 students in 12 states, from inner-city LA to suburban Minneapolis, and at six different universities from those with tough admission standards to state schools that accept most applicants.

[pullquote]As the group’s recently released report states, “For every challenge facing this nation, there are scores of websites pretending to be something they are not. Ordinary people once relied on publishers, editors, and subject matter experts to vet the information they consumed. But on the unregulated Internet, all bets are off.”[/pullquote]

As the group’s recently released report states, “For every challenge facing this nation, there are scores of websites pretending to be something they are not. Ordinary people once relied on publishers, editors, and subject matter experts to vet the information they consumed. But on the unregulated Internet, all bets are off.”

To get an idea of just how much these students really know about the Internet, the researchers tested their understanding of a range of information that appears on social media and other Internet venues. For instance, they showed middle school students “sponsored content” and news articles to see if they could recognize an ad. They showed high school students studying about gun laws a chart from a gun owners’ political action committee to see if they would accept it at face value. And they showed college students a tweet to see if they might use it as an eventual source in an article.

Perhaps even more intriguing – especially for education nerds – are the sample questions the report contains, along with a rubric for each and sample responses that show mastery (the student answers correctly and provides coherent reasoning for the response), emerging (the student answers correctly but provides limited or incoherent reasoning) and beginning (the student answers incorrectly).

The results the group reports are indeed bleak, but this shows the kind of media literacy journalism teachers might be able to help promote. Much of it deals with concepts we teach all the time: “Question Authority.” And of course there’s “verify” and “be transparent.” At least we hope our students would do better on this group’s assessment.

Also, the report ends with “Next Steps,” which include a promise to pilot lesson plans to use with these assessments and an awareness of the problem that is far worse than the researchers originally thought.

“Many assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally savvy about what they find there. Our work shows the opposite,” the researchers say. They hope to produce web videos to show how digital literacy is vital for a country like ours that relies on an informed electorate.

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New lessons on fairness, crisis coverage,
media literacy and more for NIE Week

Posted by on Feb 26, 2013 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Uncategorized | 0 comments


March 4-8 marks Newspaper In Education Week, the annual celebration of newspapers as a classroom resource across a variety of subjects.

This year, the American Press Institute and the Newseum have teamed up to deliver a new, three-unit curriculum with six lessons aligned to Common Core State Standards. Lessons focus on the following topics:

  • Newspapers in Your Life – What’s News Where? and The First Rough Draft of Histor
  • In the Newsroom – The Fairness Formula and Planning for the Unpredictable
  • Media Literacy – Where News Comes From and Evaluating the News

If you’re not familiar with API and the Newseum, here’s a little background. In 2012, the former Newspaper Association of America Foundation was merged into the American Press Institute. API, now headquartered at NAA in Arlington, Va., is continuing the NAA Foundation’s long tradition of producing new curriculum materials in honor of NIE Week. The Newseum, the “museum of news” located in Washington, D.C., also has a tradition of providing educational resources for teachers.

“With so many sources of news and information at their disposal, young people more than ever need to be educated media consumers,” API Executive Director Tom Rosenstiel said in a news release. “This curriculum is designed to help educators accomplish that. It makes use of original, professional journalism produced by local newspapers and combines it with the Newseum’s educational resources for something that is timely, real and proven in schools.”

Lessons in the NIE Week 2013 curriculum incorporate existing Newseum resources, such as the Today’s Front Pages gallery. They are geared toward middle- and high-school students, but include extension activities for elementary students. Although they are being released for NIE Week, lessons are “evergreen” in terms of subject matter and can be used anytime.

Need more lessons aligned to Common Core? Check out High Five, an integrated, three-unit curriculum that includes reading, writing, journalism, grammar, linguistics and visual literacy. All materials are age-appropriate for middle-school students. The curriculum uses the daily newspaper as a textbook and information source.

Marina Hendricks, a member of the SPRC, is director of communications at NAA and former manager of the NAA Foundation.


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