A message from the American Society of News Editors

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The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) is pleased to sponsor the publication of the Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism through the ASNE Youth Journalism Initiative. Supporting the development of strong student journalism programs at the secondary school level has never been more important.

The onset of the digital age forever changed the way all of us interact with news. More data is produced in a single second than can possibly be consumed in a lifetime. A student’s ability to use critical thinking to analyze the credibility of news reports and information sources and to differentiate among facts, opinions and assertions are essential 21st century skills. Scholastic journalism programs help students learn these news literacy skills while providing a valuable service to their school community.

Student publications foster community and encourage public debate on issues that matter to students. ASNE encourages students to aspire to journalistic excellence and the highest journalistic standards as found in ASNE’s Statement of Principles, which are summarized below:

  • Responsibility. The primary purpose of gathering and distributing news and opinion is to serve the general welfare by informing the people and enabling them to make judgments on the issues of the time.
  • Freedom of the Press. Freedom of the press belongs to the people. It must be defended against encroachment or assault from any quarter, public or private. Journalists must be constantly alert to see that the public’s business is conducted in public. They must be vigilant against all who would exploit the press for selfish purposes.
  • Independence. Journalists must avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety as well as any conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict. They should neither accept anything nor pursue any activity that might compromise or seem to compromise their integrity.
  • Truth and Accuracy. Good faith with the reader is the foundation of good journalism. Every effort must be made to assure that the news content is accurate, free from bias and in context, and that all sides are presented fairly.
  • Impartiality. To be impartial does not require the press to be unquestioning or to refrain from editorial expression. Sound practice, however, demands a clear distinction for the reader between news reports and opinion.
  • Fair Play. Journalists should respect the rights of people involved in the news, observe the common standards of decency, and stand accountable to the public for the fairness and accuracy of their news reports. Persons publicly accused should be given the earliest opportunity to respond.

The future of our communities and the future of our democracy depend on news literate citizens and well-trained journalists. We hope you find the Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism a valuable resource in this endeavor.

Arnie Robbins
Executive Director
American Society of News Editors
209 Reynolds Journalism Institute
Columbia, Missouri 65211

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Susan A. Enfield, JEA 2012 Administrator of the Year and superintendent for Highline Public Schools, Burien, Washington, shares her belief in the educational need for scholastic journalism and student media in schools. Enfield is also a former publications adviser and journalism teacher.

Susan A. Enfield receives the 2012 Administrator of the Year award from Journalism Education Association president Mark Newton.

Susan A. Enfield receives the 2012 Administrator of the Year award from Journalism Education Association president Mark Newton, MJE. JEA photo by Bradley Wilson, MJE.

Part 1: Why maintain a journalism program

Part 2: Pressures on today’s principals

Part 3: The First Amendment and school publications

Part 4: Qualities of a good adviser

Part 5: Checklist for principals

About Susan Enfield, JEA 2012 Administrator of the Year

The Journalism Education Association chose Dr. Susan A. Enfield, superintendent of schools for Highline Public Schools in Burien, Wash., as its 2012 Administrator of the Year. This award goes to an administrator who has shown a dedication to journalism education.

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Journalism organization resources

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• American Society of News Editors  The ASNE Youth Journalism Initiative, launched in 2000, provides journalism-related training and resources for teachers and students through its website, SchoolJournalism.org . The initiative also sponsors weekly and monthly journalism contests for students, as well as the Quill and Scroll International Writing and Photo Contest . ASNE’s goal is for every student to learn why news matters and acquire the skills needed to succeed as 21st century citizens.

• ASNE Reynolds High School Journalism Institute The Reynolds High School Journalism Institutes are intensive two-week journalism training programs for secondary-school teachers coordinated by the ASNE Youth Journalism Initiative. The Institutes combine in-depth instruction on journalism skills with hands-on experience in reporting, writing, editing, design, videography, photography, multimedia and online news. Teachers learn how to help students develop news literacy skills and understand their rights and ethical responsibilities as student journalists and citizens. http://www.schooljournalism.org/reynolds-high-school-journalism-institute/

• Center for Scholastic Journalism The Center, located at Kent State University in Ohio, is committed to conducting and collecting the best national and international research on scholastic media and the role it plays in journalism education and citizenship training. The center also provides educational, legal and ethical scholastic resources. http://csjkent.edu

• Columbia Scholastic Press Association Founded in 1925, the association unites student editors and faculty advisers working with them to produce student newspapers, magazines, yearbooks and online media. The association is owned by Columbia University and operated as a program affiliated with its Graduate School of Journalism. http://www.columbia.edu/cu/cspa/

• Journalism Education Association The nation’s largest national scholastic journalism organization for teachers and advisers. The organization offers training workshops and conventions, print and online educational and resources, and monitors and defends First Amendment and scholastic press rights issues nationally. http://jea.org http://jeasprc.org http://jeadigitialmedia.org

• National Scholastic Press Association The National Scholastic Press Association provides journalism education training programs, publishes journalism education materials, provides media critique and recognition programs for members, provides information on developments in journalism and student media and provides a forum for members to communicate with others and share their work. Through these activities, NSPA and its divisions promote the standards and ethics of good journalism as accepted and practiced by print, broadcast and electronic media in the United States. NSPA and its divisions also endorse and advocate free expression rights for student media. http://www.studentpress.org

• Quill and Scroll Society Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society for High School Journalists was organized April 10, 1926, at the University of Iowa by renowned pollster George H. Gallup and a group of high school advisers for the purpose of encouraging and recognizing individual student achievement in journalism and academics. The organization provides educational resources, contests and workshops for students and educators. http://www.quillandscroll.org

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Rating services and contests

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Rating services and contests

Awards and accolades – everyone wants them. Especially in this era of accountability, recognition of achievement offers a measure of effectiveness. Community members and boards relish the awards students earn.

Parents and students value the experiences leading to honors, as well as the actual awards and what they signify to scholarship grantors, colleges and employers.

Rating services and contests are plentiful at the local, state and national levels. Advisers and teachers should be familiar with these services, including rankings and evaluation of individual student work or staff products. Because judging is a subjective process, administrators should encourage students’ participation in a range of competitions so they receive a variety of ideas and suggestions.

Administrators, students and teachers should not emphasize winning over the experience of participation. Further, students should produce work in alignment with course and professional standards, and not simply to please judges.

Rating services and contests are valuable to scholastic journalism educators because:
• They are instructive, providing standards for measuring students’ work, and they reinforce classroom learning. These services recognize student achievement and praise outstanding accomplishments.
• Feedback identifies whether students meet goals and course objectives and suggest ways to improve the product.
• Competition and rating service evaluations are instructional tools for teachers and students. Some contest sponsors also offer samples of winning entries with judges’ feedback in useful formats.

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Internet freedom of expression

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The Journalism Education Association has always believed students involved in print media should enjoy freedom of expression. As an extension of that, JEA also believes student use of the Internet should be free from prior review, restraint and other hindrances preventing free expression.

In particular, JEA:

  1. Endorses the Student Press Law Center’s revised Model Publication Guidelines that include statements on use of the Internet and urges journalism programs and school systems to adopt the SPLC model;
  2. Joins with the Internet Free Expression Alliance in working to ensure the Internet is a forum for open, diverse and unimpeded expression;
  3. Strongly opposes the use of filters or blocking software that interfere with the legitimate gathering or authoring of information protected by the First Amendment and recent Supreme Court decisions. All current blocking and filtering software consistently has been shown to restrain more than unprotected speech, taking from educators valid educational decision making and often giving it to unknown parties with unknown rationale;
  4. Recommends communications teachers assist administrators, parents, students and others in their understanding the importance of free expression on the Internet;
  5. Urges teachers, advisers and students to be fully informed of their rights in use of the Internet, websites and acceptable use policies; and
  6. Urges communications teachers and advisers to be the leaders in the shaping of their systems’ Internet policies and decision making.
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Achieving diversity in coverage

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Just as professional newspapers need different voices to tell community stories, so do school media. Having publications that reflect, as accurately as possible, the full picture of the school and its community requires diverse student media participation. A diverse staff offers various viewpoints and is more likely to cover a broader range of topics.

A 2012 American Society of News Editors survey showed the percentage of minorities in newsrooms had declined since 2010, even while the percentage of minorities making up the total U.S. population increased. Because many of today’s most pressing news topics (immigration, poverty and crime, for instance) reflect issues of culture and race, diversity among the journalists who cover these stories can mean greater sensitivity and understanding of the nuances involved.

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Six principles of scholastic journalism

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Six principles of scholastic journalism

1. Establish policies enabling effective and responsible reporting.

Students: Practice effective and responsible reporting.

Student journalists practice their First Amendment rights and responsibilities when reporting as designated public forums. When students follow and adapt a code of ethics based on professional standards such as those of the Society of Professional Journalists or the Radio Television Digital News Association, they develop civic responsibility and understand their free speech rights and responsibilities. When they adhere to professional, legal and ethical standards, student journalists enhance their credibility and build public trust. Democracy stagnates when the flow of information is impeded.

Advisers: Develop policies and practices for effective and responsible reporting

Advisers should teach and coach students about legal and ethical principles of responsible journalism by working with them to develop effective policies as well as sound learning processes. In instilling professional legal and ethical standards in their students and creating open forums for student expression, advisers should follow the Journalism Education Association’s Adviser Code of Ethics. Central to this guidance is empowering students to make final decisions of all content, and to anticipate the impact of their decisions.

Administrators: Establish policies for effective and responsible reporting

Effective and responsible student media policies and processes enable all student media to operate as designated public forums where students practice their First Amendment rights – and responsibilities. A code of ethics for students and advisers, based on professional standards such as those of the Journalism Education Association and Society of Professional Journalists, supplements these policies and provides direction. The more student journalists adhere to professional, legal and ethical standards, the more they serve their communities, developing civic responsibility, enhancing their credibility and building public trust.

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