First Amendment Press Freedom questions

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Do your student media meet First Amendment standards?

The five scholastic media organizations offer secondary schools across the country an opportunity to show they are First Amendment-relevant schools through completion of a survey as part 1 for the First Amendment Press Freedom Award. The questions below are part 1, and can be used to evaluate your school’s First Amendment status.

Circle your choice: Yes, No or Don’t know (should be avoided or explained) Take this quiz before and after you read the book.

1. Does your school actively protect First Amendment rights, including artistic expression by students and faculty?

Yes No Don’t know (explain: __________________________________________________)


2. Does your school promote and support teaching of the First Amendment through classroom instruction and activities?

Yes No Don’t know (explain: __________________________________________________)

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Supporting student media with technology and finances

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Supporting student media with technology and budgeting

Just as the science lab requires specialized equipment such as microscopes and incubators, journalism classrooms need up-to-date digital cameras, computers and software.

Because journalism provides hands-on application of 21st-century skills, the classroom has unique needs in both setup and equipment. Administrators should allocate adequate funds to create the best learning environment.

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Content development from start to finish

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Key questions student journalists address in determining coverage

When students determine content, they evaluate how the issue or coverage affects those in their communities. Journalists ask themselves what readers need to know and how best to tell the story. Student editors examine the issue collaboratively, considering angles for coverage while also thinking about what readers already know.

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Hiring the qualified adviser

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Selecting the best candidate to advise a student media program involves a range of considerations. Finding journalism teachers with the necessary background and training helps to ensure students will have the best knowledge and skills to produce quality products. Those products are created for an outside audience rather than just teacher assessment within the classroom.

Teachers with the knowledge who know how to create excellent publications help students be responsible staff members — ones operating with accuracy, truth and integrity

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Journalism Educator standards

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Teaching secondary school journalism requires a broad range of knowledge and performance abilities. Journalism courses, frequently based in a school’s English department, go beyond what most English or language arts curriculum requires. Therefore, these standards reflect a need for skill in teaching storytelling, writing, listening, speaking, researching and reporting, leadership, collaboration, media law and ethics, fiscal responsibility and multimedia production. Mastery of these skills helps teachers prepare their students to become knowledgeable media producers and consumers essential to our democracy while using critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.

Exemplary journalism educators engage students using the best strategies in communication, instruction, management, motivation and evaluation. The ever-changing nature of media demands journalism educators keep pace with technology and pedagogy. Finally, such journalism educators seek growth through deliberate reflection, both individually and in professional learning communities

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Collaboration & Protocol for Scholastic Journalism

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Collaboration is at the core of scholastic journalism programs that achieve high standards of competency, ethics and community service.

The ability to collaborate effectively is particularly important in addressing controversies involving the student press. An inherent function of American journalism is to encourage diversity, which includes covering perspectives that may be disagreeable, unpopular and discomforting. While that function is essential to the democratic process, it also can cause headaches for principals who want to avoid any kind of conflict at school (outside of academic and sports competition, of course).

But schools are marketplaces for ideas, and controversial topics should be considered  carefully rather than censored. To avoid controversy is to deny students opportunities to improve skills in conflict resolution, to appreciate minority voices, to modify attitudes based on new insights and to contribute to problem solving. The roots of American freedom were nurtured by controversy and conflict—both inherent attributes of democracy. The student press can be an instrument of civility when values, judgments and feelings collide. By amplifying student and community voices on important issues, the press helps people define problems, identify alternative solutions, reach common ground and fix things.

Protocol, an concept originally suggested by Bob Steele of The Poynter Institute for Media Studies,  is a structure that facilitates collaboration by providing procedures that inspire ethics, help build ideal partnerships and make consensus more attainable.

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The value of empowering student decision-making

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The value of empowering students to make all content decisions lies in the following responsibilities.

By using journalistic standards and processes in their decision-making, student journalists learn to:
• Recognize legitimate news values and apply them in reporting;
• Develop a relentless pursuit of the truth;
• Apply the same ethical standards and guidelines to all media;
• Inform accurately, thoroughly and coherently;
• Verify information;
• Ask the challenging questions a democratic society needs to evolve and prosper;
• Seek complete and relevant answers;
• Find the most credible and reliable sources;
• Present information in context, with perspective, reflecting diverse viewpoints;
• Be aware of their own and others’ biases by identifying issues with and limitations of information;
• Clearly separate and label fact from opinion;
• Use public records;
• Select the best platform to tell the story

See also:
Journalism Educator Standards
Six principles behind news literacy
Media literate consumers
Career Technical Education (CTE)
Civic engagement and journalism
Partnership in 21st Century Skills
Common Core Standards
Ties to educational initiatives
Informed communities

• Principles of journalism
• Journalism’s moral responsibility: three questions
• Sensitive Issues guide
• Twenty years of Hazelwood

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