Student journalists make ethical decisions daily, whether in advertising, design, information gathering or reporting. It is essential and ongoing.

A number of excellent resources exist for helping students, their advisers and those in their communities make those decisions. Administrators help students and their advisers with this task through positive reinforcement of journalism activities. One point is important to note: Ethics are only guidelines. They do not represent standards for punishment or discipline.

Administrators should follow two basic practices with student media:

1. Share these sites with journalism students and teachers as they develop an editorial policy outlining the legal and ethical responsibilities for student journalists.
Journalism Education Association’s model editorial policy and Student Press Law Center’s model editorial policy
• SPLC’s Hazelwood Talking Points
• Information about why no to prior review
JEA statement on prior review and why it is not good educational practice

2. Encourage teachers and advisers as they develop a staff manual with an ethical code.
• National Scholastic Press Association Model Code of Ethics
• JEA Adviser Code of Ethics
• JEA Teacher’s Kit for Curing Hazelwood
Online ethical guidelines
Yearbook ethical guide
Visual reporting ethical guide
Social Media Toolbox
Social Media, the Classroom and the First Amendment

Remember, media view very few things as “taboo.” High school student media should be prepared for worst-case scenarios. Imagine the potential for growth and responsibility when students have journalistic conversations with informed, sincere and open-minded adults before the “taboo” happens.

See also:
First Amendment and student media
School boards and student media
The value of using social media in journalism
Internet access and safety
Differences between law and ethics
Yearbook ethical guidelines for student media
Online ethical guidelines for student media
Visual ethical guidelines for student media
Definitions of prior review, restraint and forums
Which type of forum best serves your students and community
Importance of open forum status
JEA Adviser Code of Ethics
Internet freedom of expression
Why avoiding prior review is educationally sound
First Amendment Press Freedom questions