Leading the way in scholastic journalism & media education since 1924

Statements

The Journalism Education Association is a dynamic, adviser-focused organization serving a diverse media community. To develop and support effective media advisers, JEA must protect scholastic press and speech freedoms of advisers and their students; provide an environment that attracts, develops and retains the best educators in the profession; build diversity at the scholastic and professional levels; promote and demonstrate educational use of the latest technologies, and provide innovative, consistent and quality services.

    Media advisers will:

  • Model standards of professional journalistic conduct to students, administrators and others.
  • Empower students to make decisions of style, structure and content by creating a learning atmosphere where students will actively practice critical thinking and decision making
  • Encourage students to seek out points of view and to explore a variety of information sources in their decision making.
  • Ensure students have a free, robust and active forum for expression without prior review or restraint.
  • Emphasize the importance of accuracy, balance and clarity in all aspects of news gathering and reporting.
  • Show trust in students as they carry out their responsibilities by encouraging and supporting them in a caring learning environment.
  • Remain informed on press rights and responsibilities to provide students with sources of legal information.
  • Advise, not act as censors or decision makers.
  • Display professional and personal integrity in situations which might be construed as potential conflicts of interest.
  • Support free expression for others in local and larger communities.
  • Counsel students to avoid deceptive practices in all practices of publication work.
  • Model effective communications skills by continuously updating knowledge of media education.

The Journalism Education Association, as the nation’s largest association of scholastic journalism educators and secondary school media advisers, denounces the practice of administrative prior review as serving no legitimate educational purpose. Prior review leads only to censorship by school officials or to self-censorship by students with no improvement in journalistic quality or learning.

Better strategies exist that enhance student learning while protecting school safety and reducing school liability.

School administrators provide leadership for just about every dimension of schools. They set the tone and are crucial in a meaningful educational process. Undeniably, administrators want their schools’ graduates to be well-educated and effective citizens. Often, school or district missions statements state this goal explicitly. JEA supports them in that effort.

So, when the Journalism Education Association challenges the judgment of administrators who prior review student media, it does so believing better strategies more closely align with enhanced civic engagement, critical thinking and decision-making.

Prior review by administrators undermines critical thinking, encourages students to dismiss the role of a free press in society and provides no greater likelihood of increased quality of student media. Prior review inevitably leads to censorship. Prior review inherently creates serious conflicts of interest and compromises administrator neutrality, putting the school in potential legal jeopardy.

    Without prior review, administrators retain better strategies that support journalism programs. Such approaches include:

  • Working with students cooperatively to be good sources for stories
  • Hiring qualified advisers and journalism teachers
  • Building trust in the learning and communication process in a way that also lessens liability concerns of the school system
  • Offering feedback after each publication
  • Increasing dialogue among school staff and students, thus encouraging outlets of expression that strengthens school safety
  • Expanding school and community understanding and appreciation of the value of free – and journalistically responsible – student media
  • Providing necessary resources to support and maintain publication programs, including financial support, master schedule preferences, development opportunities and time

These strategies, and others listed below can enhance the influence of administrators without intruding on student control of their media as outlined by court decisions and the First Amendment.

    Administrators can and should:

  • Foster appreciation for America’s democratic ideals by inspiring students and their advisers to practice democratic principles through free student media
  • Hire the most qualified educator to teach and advise or help one without solid journalism background become more knowledgeable. This allows the educator to provide training so students can better become self-sufficient as they make decisions and practice journalism within the scope of the school’s educational mission and the First Amendment
  • Trust and respect their advisers, their student media editors and staff as the students make decisions
  • Maintain dialogue and feedback to protect and enhance student expression, to afford students real input in the process, and to broaden their opportunities to excel
    Teachers and advisers can and should:

  • Model standards of professional journalistic conduct to students, administrators and others
  • Emphasize the importance of accuracy, balance and clarity in all aspects of news gathering and reporting
  • Advise, not act as censors or decision makers
  • Empower students to make decisions of style, structure and content by creating a learning atmosphere where students will actively practice critical thinking and decision-making
  • Encourage students to seek other points of view and to explore a variety of information sources in their decision-making
  • Ensure students have a free, robust and active forum for expression without prior review or restraint
  • Show trust in students as they carry out their responsibilities by encouraging and supporting them in a caring learning environment
    Student journalists can and should:

  • Apply critical thinking and decision-making skills as they practice journalistic standards and civic responsibility
  • Follow established policies and adopt new ones to aid in thorough, truthful and complete reporting using a range of diverse and credible sources
  • Seek the advice of professionally educated journalism advisers, teachers and other media resources
  • Maintain open lines of communication with other students, teachers, administrators and community members
  • Operate media that report in verbal and visual context, enhancing comprehension and diverse points of view
  • Develop trust with all stakeholders – sources, adviser, administration and fellow staffers

JEA Board of Directors
Adopted April 16, 2009

Given the rapid growth brought about by photo-manipulation software and the reliance scholastic journalism programs are placing on them, the Journalism Education Association urges students and advisers to follow these principles:
Advisers of student media should not make decisions about the suitability or legality of images in question. Instead, advisers should empower students to make such decisions and to counsel students to avoid deceptive practices in all aspects of publication work.
Advisers should also counsel students to seek professional legal advice in all legal and ethical questions.

    Students working on publications should consider the following tests devised by University of Oregon professors Tom Wheeler and Tim Gleason about “whether and how to manipulate, alter or enhance” images:

  1. THE VIEWFINDER TEST Does the photograph show more than what the photographer saw through the viewfinder?
  2. THE PHOTO-PROCESSING TEST A range of technical enhancements and corrections on an image after the photo is shot could change the image. Do things go beyond what is routinely done in the darkroom to improve image quality-cropping, color corrections, lightening or darkening?
  3. THE TECHNICAL CREDIBILITY TEST Is the proposed alteration not technically obvious to the readers?
  4. THE CLEAR-IMPLAUSIBILITY TEST Is the altered image not obviously false to readers?
    • If any of the above tests can be answered “yes,” JEA urges student journalists to:

    • not manipulate news photos
    • not publish the image(s) in question, or
    • clearly label images as photo-illustrations when student editors decide they are the best way to support story content.

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:

  • 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;
  • joins with the Internet Free Expression Alliance in working to ensure the Internet is a forum for open, diverse and unimpeded expression;
  • 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;
  • recommends communications teachers assist administrators, parents, students and others in their understanding the importance of free expression on the Internet;
  • urges teachers, advisers and students to be fully informed of their rights in use of the Internet, Web sites and acceptable use policies; and
  • urges communications teachers and advisers to be the leaders in the shaping of their systems’ Internet policies and decision making.

    The Internet Free Expression Alliance will work to:

  • ensure the continuation of the Internet as a forum for open, diverse and unimpeded expression and to maintain the vital role the Internet plays in providing an efficient and democratic means of distributing information around the world;
  • promote openness and encourage informed public debate and discussion of proposals to rate and/or filter online content
  • identify new threats to free expression and First Amendment values on the Internet, whether legal or technological;
  • oppose any governmental effort to promote, coerce or mandate the rating or filtering of online content;
  • protect the free speech and expression rights of both the speaker and the audience in the interactive online environment;
  • ensure that Internet speakers are able to reach the broadest possible interested audience and that Internet listeners are able to access all material of interest to them;
    closely examine technical proposals to create filtering architectures and oppose approaches that conceal the filtering criteria employed, or irreparably damage the unique character of the Internet; and
  • encourage approaches that highlight “recommended” Internet content, rather than those that restrict access to materials labeled as “harmful” or otherwise objectionable, and emphasize that any rating exists solely to allow specific content to be blocked from view may inhabit the flow of free expression.


The JEA board passed this resolution unanimously on Nov. 19, 2004

Whereas the Journalism Education Association supports free and responsible scholastic journalism and promotes professionalism and excellence among its 2,300 members;
Whereas the JEA believes the media adviser’s role is many-faceted and includes but is not limited to modeling standards of professional journalistic conduct and empowering students to learn and grow as they make decisions of style, structure, presentation and content;
Whereas the JEA values free, robust and uncensored student expression and encourages advisers to create a learning atmosphere where students actively practice critical thinking and decision making;
Whereas the JEA views the process of journalism practices and production to be as valuable to the educational mission as the product students create;
Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Journalism Education Association encourages administrators at all levels of educational institutions served by student media to seek evaluation tools for their advisers that use methods for assessing an adviser’s performance.


The JEA board passed this definition 8-5 on April 15, 2010

Prior review occurs when anyone not on the publication/media staff requires that he or she be allowed to read, view or approve student material before distribution, airing or publication.
Prior restraint occurs when someone not on the publication/media staff requires pre-distribution changes to or removal of student media content.
Prior review itself is a form of prior restraint. It inevitably leads the reviewer to censor and and student journalists to self-censor in an effort to assure approval.
An officially designated adviser, when working with students and offering suggestions for improvement as part of the coaching and learning process, who reads or views student media before publication is not engaged in prior review.
However, when an adviser requires pre-distribution changes over the objections of student editors, his/her actions then become prior restraint.