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Reporting controversy, issues student journalists can tell best

Posted by on Feb 24, 2020 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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by John Bowen, MJE
The above statement is a good reminder in 2020 of our social responsibility to report all aspects of teen issues – those with good, bad and impact – because our audiences  have a right to know.

These are stories student journalists can tell best.

As journalists we do not actively protest, lead walkouts or engage others We examine issues and events with diverse points of view, in context, accurate and complete that might as effectively create change.

We are mirrors to reflect events and candles to illuminate causes and issues that surround us, like the March 14 and March 24 planned protests, marches and discussions initiated by student reactions to the shooting deaths of 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

Our journalistic leadership should not prevent expression of our personal feelings and views. Our first obligation is to the truth as Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel write in The Elements of Journalism.

“A community that fails to reflect  its community deeply will not succeed,” the authors write in Elements, third edition.”But a newspaper that does not challenge its community’s values and preconceptions will lose respect for failing to provide the honesty and leadership newspapers are expected  to offer.”

In this case and others, student media can best tell that story.

We lead when we channel our insights into reporting so communities – or societies – can make intelligent and informed decisions affecting our democracy.

To assist students as they report events and issues surrounding walkouts and protests, local and national, the SPRC begins a series of blogposts focusing on protest in America, its relevance and why student media should make every effort to report on its deeper issues.

To help start the discussion, note the following links:

  • Covering controversy  Controversy is often in the eye of the beholder. The best way to prevent a subject from becoming controversial is to use verifiable information, in context, from reliable sources – truthful, accurate, thorough and complete reporting. Students should be able to show why they used some information and not other. They should be transparent about why their coverage was important.
  • Practice sensitivity in your reporting  How do we, as today’s information consumers and creators, sift through the rumors, the gossip, the failed memories, the spin to capture something as accurately as possible? How can we overcome our own limits of perception, our biases, our experience and come to an account people will see as reliable. This essence of journalism is a discipline of verification. Controversy is in the eyes of the beholder. Our job is make sure anything controversial is reported thoroughly, accurately and coherently.
  • Respecting privacy and public space important for photographers, too  Student journalists should never invade the privacy of others while accessing information or photos for a story.However. it is their journalistic duty to know what constitutes invasion of privacy or what spaces they are legally allowed to access and what spaces they are not legally allowed to access. Student journalists should check the legal and ethical parameters of public space and the latest recommendations for journalistic activity from the Student Press Law Center.
  • Student Press Law Center online guide and resources for student journalists The new resource page is just one of several major steps SPLC took to ensure student journalists can cover protests, walkouts and the growing gun control discussions freely and fairly. See its news release: http://bit.ly/2ozAW5o
  • Covering walkouts and protests   From the SPLC, this guide provides helpful information student journalists reporting protests and walk-outs.

Resources:
Introductionand Civic engagement and journalism, Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism

The 2017 State of the First Amendment, Newseum

High School Journalism Matters, American Press Institute

Framework for 21st Century Learning, Partnership for 21st Century Learning

Civic Implications of Secondary School Journalism, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

Principals, presidents and getting along, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Commission

Teaching grit for citizenship — why we must empower, not shield students, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Commission

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The importance of linking to reporting

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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Links in online reporting provides context, credibility and transparency for coverage

by Kristin Taylor
You can’t click on a print newspaper, so why should we include links in digital stories?

The Nieman Foundation provides four main purposes for adding links:

  1. Links are good for storytelling.
  2. Links keep the audience informed.
  3. Links are a currency of collaboration.
  4. Links enable transparency.
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Transparency

Posted by on Oct 29, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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Transparency maintains credibility, strengthens reporting

Guideline

In order to maintain credibility, student reporters and editors should strive to be transparent in all aspects of their reporting. This includes revealing within the text of a story how interviews were obtained (if anything other than an in-person interview is used), giving proper attribution to direct quotes, as well as using indirect quotes to give attribution to ideas and details that come from sources. 

Reporters should also be transparent in how secondary source information was obtained (i.e. through a public records request, etc.).

Question:

Why is transparency important in student reporting? How can students be transparent in their reporting?

Stance:

Student reporters should strive for transparency within their writing and student editors should confirm where information came from as part of their routine fact-checking duties before publication.

Key points/action:

  • Teach students that during the reporting process they should take thorough notes so they know where information comes from
  • Teach students how to attribute information using both direct and indirect quotes
  • Require student editors to do a “transparency check” before publication. While editing stories, if they are not sure where a piece of information came from they should discuss with the reporter the need to be transparent

Reasoning/suggestions:

Transparency is important in student media because it establishes credibility and combats the illusion of “fake news.” If readers or viewers know where the information came from, they are less likely to question its accuracy or claim falsities in the publication.

Bottom line: Be clear where information comes from so no one can question the validity of that information (or if they do they can take those questions to the source and not the publication/reporter).

Resources:

Related:Attribution & Objectivity

 

 

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Tips for reporting the year’s toughest story

Posted by on Oct 7, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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by Candace Bowen, MJE

It’s the story of the year, perhaps even the decade. The general topic is listed in the top 10 issues of concern for teens in almost every poll. Misunderstandings and misinformation play a big role, and adults so often don’t know how to talk about it either. This could and should be where student journalists step up, yet, sadly, it’s one of the hardest for them to write about.

Sex. And in particular, sexual assault, has been a female concern for a long time, getting more attention with Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo last year. And now with the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings, teen males see the impact it could have on them – rightly or wrongly.

So, can student journalists write about it? Of course, they can – and should. Some administrators – face it, ALL administrators – may squirm at the thought, but how a staff covers the topic will make a huge difference and might help determine their success.

Here are some things to think about if your students want to write about sexual assault and some helpful resources as well.

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Stories students can best tell:
Reporting protests, walkouts and marches

Posted by on Mar 29, 2018 in Blog, Featured, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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Between March 14 and March 24, the SPRC shared legal and ethical guidelines as well as coverage suggestions for reporting walkouts, protests and marches.

Because the topics are still ongoing and current, we’re loading all of our advice under one banner, for your convenience.

If you have other questions or examples of coverage you would like to share here, please submit them through the comments section below.

We intend to add material as needed or available.

Students, join movement to make change: Mary Beth Tinker
Legal issues in covering protests
Tips for reporting protests
Tips of audio reporting of protests, walkouts
Plan and pack for social media coverage of protests
More than a march: a civics lesson and a wake-up call
SPRC package offers  insights for reporting protests, marches
Reporting stories student journalists can best tell

Shared materials 

• Eric Garner shared this collaborative documentary created by the students of WMSD-TV at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as well as students and alum from schools across the country. It covers the days after the incident as the school begins the rebuilding, and healing, process. youtu.be/8EB5Uk5l660

• Coverage by Harker School of San Jose and San Francisco student marches. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JufhGhnFAbk

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