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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Internet access and safety

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Internet access and safety
Today’s student journalists must learn to navigate and produce online media. The choice is clear — provide an educational environment in which students learn to use the Internet with adult facilitation, or leave students to educate themselves with no such guidance. Because the First Amendment protects Internet freedoms in much the same way it protects print media, it is essential for administrators to understand the boundaries of the law.

Understanding filters
The Children’s Internet Protection Act mandates filters in public schools, although many administrators are unaware CIPA also allows for their removal in certain situations. Use in journalism programs should be one of those exceptions because filters often block relevant research material and prohibit students from learning online responsibility.

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