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Arkansas student journalists lose publishing rights, regain them, support from other journalists

Posted by on Dec 9, 2018 in Blog, Legal issues | 0 comments


by Jackie Mink, JEA Emeritus member
A recent challenge in Arkansas left a high school’s newspaper censored and prior review started. With support from other scholastic and professional journalism organizations, the school newspaper has now been allowed to publish.

I thought of a line in my favorite book “To Kill a Mockingbird”recently. It was in the courtroom scene when Atticus Finch says to a witness,“You ran to the house, you ran to the window, you ran inside, you ran to Mayella, you ran for Mr. Tate. Did you in all this running, run for a doctor?” As well as wondering why there was no medical attention, Atticus was probably wondering if the real truth may have been discovered if the doctor had been called.

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Working together more than just a phrase

Posted by on Oct 15, 2018 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


by Stan Zoller, MJE
More than a few years ago, I produced a corporate television show designed to inform the United States sales force of a major corporation about new sales, existing customer successes and general corporate information.

It was also quasi motivational and one of the anchors’ walk-off lines was  “Working together, we make the difference.” Remember, I produced the show, I didn’t write the copy.

However, as trite as the walk-off for the show was, there is more than a fleeting truth about working together. Especially when it comes to scholastic press rights.

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Sponsored content and native ads:
Community education

Posted by on Aug 29, 2017 in Blog, Lessons, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


by John Bowen


Sponsored content and native ads: Community education

Description — fourth in the sequence
From previous lessons, student journalists should be aware of native ads and sponsored content and the importance of understanding the issues they raise. Now, they take this awareness and knowledge a step further and become the teachers to their various communities. They can use the positions they reported in the last lesson and inform others.


  • Students will identify a community for which they would prepare a presentation on native ads or sponsored content.
  • Students will prepare arguments, pro and con, to prepare for the presentation.
  • Students will construct the presentation for their chosen community to create dialogue and action.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1.C Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1.A Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.
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.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


50 minutes

Materials / resources

Blackboard or whiteboard

Teacher laptop and digital projector

Internet access

Rubric for student article summary and statement

Small group Action Plan organizational form

Lesson step-by-step

Step 1 — Warm-up (5 minutes)

Students have learned about sponsored content and native ads. Now they are going to create plans to share their knowledge with chosen communities.

Step 2 — Small group work (45 minutes)

The teacher will ask students to discuss what they think would be the most effective strategies to influence others about the topics of native ads or sponsored content. During the discussions students would also talk about the best strategies and to which communities students could reach out.

Students should reassemble into small groups of their choice to do the following:

  • Identify and choose a community they feel would benefit from a presentation about native ads or sponsored content. (Middle school groups, other high school peers, civic groups, school board, faculty, etc.)
  • Select a focus on either native ads or sponsored content.
  • Discuss which resources they had access to turning their classes on the topic that would be the most helpful for a presentation to their chosen community They could assignment certain resources to group members.
  • Presentation platform(s) (live presentation, forum, podcast, video, written articles, slideshows, combinations, etc.)
  • Begin to complete the action plan organizational form
  • Depending on choice of group, type of presentation and more, the small group teams will work to create their action plan organizational form and establish a timeframe for its presentation.
  • Students would do as much planning, research and decision-making in this class as they can. They should also try to share with the teacher questions and concerns.


Because it is a group project, the teacher will ask students to create a one-page reflection on the outcomes of the action plan.


It is quite likely the teacher might plan one or more work days for completion of the action plan. Additional class periods might be set aside for:

  • Completion of research and outline of presentation. Personal assignments
  • Practice of presentation approaches. Development of evaluation approaches and forms.
  • Evaluation of the presentation
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Why society needs New Voices legislation

Posted by on May 29, 2017 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Arizona Gov. Ducey shows why
we need journalists who
question those in power

by Lori Keekley, MJE
The idea any New Voices bill would result in students being unsupervised or teachers not mentoring students is preposterous.

That’s the excuse Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey gave for vetoing the Arizona New Voices legislation. The New Voices bill clarifies the roles of advisers, students and administrators; it empowers student voices; it doesn’t protect speech that is libelous, obscene, etc.

The governor did say in the Arizona Capitol Times article these are the next group of journalists “who will hold our government and leaders accountable.”

If students first learn only the news a school administrator deems appropriate is accepted, then we will have fewer journalists who question authority. We should teach students how to question authority — including requesting Freedom of Information Act requests.

We’ve seen how legislation similar to the current New Voices campaign has fostered this authority check Ducey would like to see. In Kansas, students were the only ones who questioned the incoming principal’s credentials.

Additionally, the SPRC has helped students whose administrators try to censor stories on types of birth control, cost of a stadium, coverage of rape culture.

This censorship may impact girls more than boys. According  to the SPLC’s The Active Voice  campaign, girls make ups a majority in high school media. When girls try to cover topics administrators attempt to censor, they may not re-engage.

The fact that Ducey said if this had been college students, he would have signed the bill into law. Too bad for many of our students, they may be too defeated by college to question authority.

It’s time for students’ voices to be empowered and not stifled.


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Our tasks for the future:
Building a Tool Kit of Trust, integrity

Posted by on Jan 18, 2017 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments



Trust in sources, information, journalists. Trust in audiences. Trust in education.

Ways to help student journalists and their audience fight fake news and bad journalism begin in middle and high school, and especially in journalism programs.

Helping journalism students and their audiences fight fake news and sloppy reporting should include understanding what type of journalism is involved. Bill Kovach and Tom Riosenstiel identified the four types in the book Blur.

Each type provides its own journalistic function and each can play roles in fake news:
• Journalism of Verification: “a traditional model that puts the highest value on accuracy and context.”
• Journalism of Assertion: “a newer model that puts the highest value on immediacy and volume and in so doing tends to become a passive conduit of information.”
• Journalism of Affirmation: “a new political media that builds loyalty less on accuracy, completeness, or verification than on affirming the beliefs of its audiences, and so tends to cherry-pick information that serves that purpose.”
• Interest-Group Journalism: “targeted Web sites or pieces of work, often investigative, that are usually funded by special interests rather than media institutions and designed to look like news.”

In the third deditiion of their book Elements of Journalism, Kovach and Rosestiel changed the last category to Journalism of Aggregation.

Studying the four types can help scholastic journalism prepare for a Tool Kit of Trust, preferably without censorship and prior review.

Our Toolkit of Trust would provide materials and journalism resources in at least these six areas:
• Fighting bad journalism
• Uncovering and educating about, then limiting the spread of fake news
• Preventing charges of fake journalism aimed at our student media
• Limiting impact of censored student media
• Uncovering sponsored news
• Building trust in journalistic values through gatekeeping that stresses journalistic responsibility

We feel these areas can be the focus for the war agains fake news and bad journalism.

Because of new-found attention directed toward critical news thinking and news literacy, including proposed California legislation, we hope to, by next fall, share educational materials that:
• Focus on answering the “why” news question to make the “what” meaningful.
• Help your communities understand the need for communications/sense making responsibilities as they question authorities.
• Once journalists have questioned authorities, question them about the quality, motive and detail of their information. Remain skeptical until all questions are answered.
• Double down and stress what speech is protected and why and its importance to the well-being of a democracy.
• Show diversity in all its meaning as a guiding light for scholastic journalism. Let all people and ideas be represented.
• Remember objectivity as a process remains the core of scholastic journalism. It’s a process rooted in truth, credibility and coherence as essential, even as reporters are skeptical and challenging of sources.
• Strive to focus on solutions (journalism) to the issues and problems coverage raises.
• Protect and empower the whole process of fighting fake and misleading news by supporting and becoming involved in states’ New Voices legislation.
• Stress journalists’ social responsibility in a factionalized media/political environment.
• Fight the spread and use of fake news in all its forms and assist student journalists and their communities understand, respond to and counter it.

If you or your students have other areas you feel would help your program and/or scholastic journalism, please use the comment form and let us know.

In a recent Student Press Law Center Ball of Rights promotion, the words “censorship is deplorable” appear. We would add to that “prior review is insidiously deplorable.” Both lead to misinformation and distortion. Both limit journalistic integrity.

Both are at the core of fake news we need to change.

When it comes to legal issues, journalism schools leave students unprepared, a new study argues
Six skills every journalist should possess
• Truth, truthiness, triangulation: A news literacy toolkit for a “post truth” world
Fake news? Bias? How colleges teach students not to be duped

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