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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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Ammunition against prior review and restraint Handling controversy, Part 3 of a series

Posted by on Oct 4, 2011 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Part of the difficulty in reporting controversial issues is how to define the term and the concept. Any article, if misreported in some way, can be controversial. Journalists would start with looking at the process of gathering information, of observing and conducting research.

Each of these steps would take place following journalistically responsible legal and ethical guidelines, no matter their platform.

In short, we avoid controversy even in sensitive issues through preparation and reliance on journalistic standards.

Our goal in Part 3 of Ammunition Against Prior Review and Restraint is to show coherent reporting begins with preparation using a variety of approaches. Resources for at least some of those ways are listed below.

As Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel wrote in The Elements of Journalism, “Rather than rush to add context and interpretation, the press needs to concentrate on synthesis and verification. Sift out the rumor, the innuendo, the insignificant and the spin, and concentrate on what is true and important about a story.”

Reporting in scholastic media that omits essential pieces of information because of review or restraint is an indirect form of fabrication. It destroys not only truth but credibility and reliability. Worse, it may be a little recognized contributor to a world where stakeholders – politically right and left – grow to mistrust media of all types.

We hope these resources will help you and your students in the quest to find a process for reporting stories that are thorough, accurate – and coherent:

• Reporting controversy requires establishing a sound process
• Sensitive Issues Guide
• 10 Tips for Reporting Controversy
• Using Anonymous Sources with Care
• Verification Before Publishing Prevents Issues
• Importance of Getting Consent in Some Issues
• Tips for covering controversial subjects
• Covering controversial topics guidelines, teaching outline

• Questions to ask about controversial issues
• 10 roles activity
• Introduction to handling controversial reporting PowerPoint
• Confidential sources PowerPoint
• Resources for reporting controversial issues




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Can the Elements of Journalism help replace prior review?

Posted by on Nov 4, 2009 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Hazelwood, Legal issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


As we’ve tried to emphasize in the last several posts, prior review is not a valid or workable educational practice. It betrays the trust of the audience (as well as that of student journalists and their advisers) and negates any concept of students taking responsibility for what they write.

Let’s see if we can build some common ground to lessen the need for prior review, which we have seen lately undermines the whole educational process.

Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel call this approach the science of reporting.

Together, these points, say the authors, lead to the discipline of verification, meaning published material is accurate, truthful and in context.

Paired with responsible journalism, as defined by JEA and outlined in an earlier post, Kovach and Rosenstiel’s verification of information and science of reporting provide a framework for scholastic journalism without prior review.

Given the outrageous examples of recent prior review, isn’t it time to give student journalists a chance to prove good journalism can and will occur without review?

In their book, The Elements of Journalism, they outline five points for this concept:

• Never add anything that was not there: This requires solid reporting and a variety of credible sources.

Never deceive the audience: This requires building a framework of trust with your audiences and ties to the next point.

Be as transparent as possible about methods and motive: It allows the audience to judge the validity of the information, the process by which it was gathered and the motives and biases of the journalists providing it, the authors say.

Rely on your own original reporting: Reporters who can do their own work, with encouragement and support from school officials and advisers will produce  stronger, more complete reporting. This might even mean turning off the Internet filters so they can have unfiltered access to information and sources.

Exercise humility: Journalists should be humble about their own skills as well as what they see and hear from sources. This reinforces the need to know perspective on stories as well as being open-minded to story-changing resources.

Recent examples of prior review leading to censorship clearly show we must find a way to encourage students practice what they are taught. We hope The Elements of Journalism can help pave the way.

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A process for developing editorial policies that mean something

Posted by on Oct 18, 2009 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Editorial policies are among the most important documents advisers and their students will create. Done correctly, they will protect you and your students, your administrators and your school system against unwanted legal issues.

The first educational mission for all schools:  To develop responsible citizens through enabling critical thinking and empowering student decision making.

Done incorrectly, policies will lead to such unwanted legal issues. Past experiences show sound policies are well worth the time and energy it takes to develop then.

Steps to develop policies include:

• Research

• Study

• Practice



  1. The SPLC for policy models and articles about them
  2. The Internet for sample school policies
  3. The Internet for articles of the value of publications or editorial policies
  4. Provided links and articles from JEA’s Press Rights Commission, including JEA Model Policy and others
  5. Research data and academic studies for research into editorial policies
  6. Specific administration organization Web sites
  7. Search terms can include:

• Editorial policies
• Publications policies
• Staff policies

  1. Conduct interviews with those have are familiar with sound policies and those who have had issues with weaker ones. Some of the stronger policies can be found here .


  1. Examine gathered material. What makes policies acceptable? Unacceptable?
  2. Based on readings or examination of  a PowerPoint included on editorial policies, what topics or concepts need to be included in acceptable policies? Which ones should be avoided?
  3. Compile arguments for and against concepts and specific wording
  4. Evaluate selected points for strengths and weaknesses
  5. Outline acceptable policy sections and points. Reference models your work should be based on
  6. Evaluate your outline in separate groups and set up a process to complete the next steps


  1. Evaluate a draft policy for effectiveness and completeness
  2. Compare your draft policy with other student media policies
  3. Identify and communicate with scholastic media experts and legal experts about the effectiveness of the draft.

This process is a good start in the creation of or adaption of effective policies.

Journalism provides us with something unique to a culture – independent, reliable, accurate and comprehensive information that citizens require to be free. Anything else – from review to censorship – subverts democratic culture.

The Elements of Journalism
Kovach and Rosenstiel

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