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Student free expression resources

Posted by on Sep 5, 2016 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

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Tips for reaching out to communities
for info on student free expression

Posted by on Sep 5, 2016 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Foundations_mainSteps students and advisers can use to help others understand the importance and need for student and free student expression
With new legislation, or attempts to pass it, comes the need for ways to engage those who would support it. The ways can run from concept to concrete and can be delivered in many approaches with details determined locally.

  • Convert or update your editorial policy so it reflects your public forum status and explain why that status is important
  • Know the law in your state and have policy and practice correspond to it
  • Know your school board policies and know how to bring them into line with changes in state law
  • Hold a forum for your community/administrators/students to share information. Student media leaders could also invite questions and provide guidance
  • Establish a strong network of alumni, parents and community members to help spread the value of free student expression and to assist you with problems
  • Prepare an op-ed piece for your community media about the importance of free student media
  • Maintain an active and informed voice opposing censorship wherever it occurs
  • Blog what your students will do, as protected by a state free expression law, to prevent fear of irresponsible journalism. This could include discussion of media mission, policy, decisions, ethical guidelines and staff manual process
  • Endorse the use of adult blogs and social media to show now that students have freedom of expression they will uphold standards of journalistic responsibility.
  • Don’t self-censor. Know what to publish that is meaningful content, and how and why to do so effectively
  • Empower your students, through their decision-making, to practice socially responsible journalism and to know the difference between sound and unsound journalism so they can better teach their communities
  • Invite the various groups into your newsroom to see students at work
  • Explain what terms like forum, etc., mean and how they will work with students making decisions
  • Develop Talking Points on the educational and civic values of free student expression
  • Create a press release based on a model release in this package
  • Stress social responsibility across platforms in journalism: truth, accuracy , content and completeness
  • Use the Panic Button to reach JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee if you need additional assistance
  • Remember three additional points:

–Your credibility as student media rests not on Hazelwood and review, but on journalistically responsible, ethical and complete reporting

–Journalism is at the core of democracy. If students learn that control trumps freedom because of decisions like Hazelwood and its practices, then democracy crumbles, bit by bit

–Communities cannot be informed, or act upon the information they have if it is limited, controlled or distorted by prior review or censorship

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Changing not so great expectations

Posted by on Nov 22, 2015 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


sprclogoby John Bowen

People shouldn’t be surprised at what happened at University of Missouri recently involving student media trying to do their jobs and groups disagreeing with what their role is.

After all, they have seen it in their secondary schools since at least 1988.

They have only to look at the impact of various Supreme Court decisions starting with Hazelwood as a contributing cause of the problem.

Hazelwood and other decisions gave schools the ability to control student expression, to limit what questions were asked, what stories were told and whether they were told thoroughly. It is possible this contributes to access issues, too.

In some cases, students, teachers, administrators and community members have known nothing  but a limited, controlled and incomplete student media. Perhaps an expectation of thorough and accurate reporting starting in high school could help improve the access issue.

If these groups do not support and advocate for free expression and journalistically responsible student media, they set the stage for later misunderstanding of media roles and obligations in a democracy.

Like actions at the University of Missouri.

It should not be surprising then that both a mass communication faculty member and a university administrator sought to control the media’s role and access during an incident when protesters wanted to bar media from a public event.

They may have known no better because of what many high school environments allow to become the expected role of journalism: lapdogs that do not challenge authority, do not seek a complete story and do not carry out their role in a democratic society.

They may have known no better because of what many high school environments allow to become the expected role of journalism: lapdogs that do not challenge authority, do not seek a complete story and do not carry out their role in a democratic society.

We all can learn from the events at the University of Missouri. It could happen again, elsewhere,  if we don’t.

We can:
• As teachers, ensure our students have access to information and principles that show the importance of free expression in student media.
• As teachers and students, apply the principles of the First Amendment to student media, in policy and practice.
• As teachers, students, administrators and community members, we can demand our states pass legislation that would guarantee student free expression, like North Dakota that just passed New Voices Act and 20-some states looking at similar legislation.
• As citizens in a democracy, we can inform ourselves about the role of media in a democracy and empower students to fulfill it in socially responsible ways.

We can, and should, in part because of the misinformed reaction to student media at the University of Missouri, act as the Student Press Law Center and the Journalism Education Association both agree: Cure Hazelwood.


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When law and ethics and good journalism combine

Posted by on Nov 12, 2013 in Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Uncategorized | 0 comments



An experienced Ohio newspaper adviser teams up with a former student — who now has a law degree — to teach the staff about using public records. An alleged rape on campus requires student editors to stand their ground accessing information about it. Once they have details about the incident, they have to decide just what they should – or maybe should not – use. It’s a tale that has all the makings of excellent reporting.

The discussion and next steps.

Editors of the Shakerite have class at 8 a.m., and they had a lot to discuss Sept. 11. Editor Shane McKeon and campus and city editor John Vodrey had the police report showing that what the principal, in his letter to parents, said was an assault had really been classified by the police as a rape.

Now what?

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