Standards for Journalism Educators

Secondary school journalism teachers must have a broad range of knowledge and performance abilities. Although their courses are frequently found in a school’s English department, their teaching responsibilities go beyond what most English or language arts curriculum requires. Therefore, these standards reflect a need to be skilled in teaching researching and reporting, writing, listening, speaking, leadership, cooperative processes, press law and ethics, fiscal responsibility, and multimedia design and production. To best teach verbal and visual storytelling relevant to a 21st-century audience, teachers must integrate story design into the curriculum. The mastery of these skills helps teachers prepare their students to become knowledgeable media producers and consumers essential to our democracy.

Professional journalism educators demonstrate expertise in content, engage students and reflect on their practices. Exemplary journalism educators understand content, development and differentiation. These outstanding teachers communicate, manage, motivate, plan, evaluate and employ the best instructional strategies. Finally, superior journalism educators seek professional growth by actively reflecting on their practices individually and in professional learning communities while also acquiring new skills and staying informed about emerging technologies.

Standard #1A – Knowledge of Curriculum and Content/Classroom

Knowledge – Journalism teachers understand:

  • Key principles of journalism curriculum development, instruction and assessment.
  • A variety of curriculum models to help frame journalism as a unique discipline and profession.
  • A variety of effective instructional strategies to help students become active scholastic journalists.
  • The law of the student press in their state, including First Amendment-related rights and responsibilities, state and local laws and regulations, copyright and fair use and privacy.
  • Professional and student journalistic codes of ethics and how they apply to the special circumstances a student journalist faces.
  • The history and evolution of media as well as functions, limitations and influences of media in society, including factors affecting shifts in public perception and access to information and the value of news as a neutral source of truth for today’s media consumers.
  • The writing process as it relates to journalism to include brainstorming, questioning, reporting, gathering and synthesizing information, editing and evaluating the final multimedia product.
  • A variety of forms and techniques of journalistic writing, including news, features, opinion and their appropriate style.
  • Importance of matching language use, angle and style with intended audience.
  • Value and skills needed to package and market multimedia products effectively using various forms of journalistic design with a range of visual, auditory and interactive methods.
  • The importance of data journalism, from investigative research to analysis and presentation.
  • Value of audio, video and still photography to tell stories in compelling ways.

Performance – Journalism teachers:

  • Select appropriate and diverse teaching materials in print and digital formats for classroom use.
  • Design a journalism curriculum that is student-centered and reflects students as continuous learners.
  • Construct lesson plans that cover the full range of journalistic storytelling and multiplatform delivery.
  • Utilize appropriate professional and scholastic media legal and ethical policies and practices as well as foster student-led discussion covering these topics.
  • Ensure students understand media’s role in a democracy and their part in its preservation.

Standard #1B – Knowledge of Curriculum and Content/Student Media

Knowledge – Journalism teachers and student media advisers understand:

  • Key principles of journalism and mass media as they function in a product-based curricula.
  • Course organization emphasizes process over product, thus allowing for continuous student learning.
  • The value of technology for producing and disseminating multimedia content.
  • Law and ethics as they relate to scholastic media and their importance in practice.
  • The role of leadership training, fiscal responsibility, conflict resolution and time management in student media production.
  • The importance of effective information design for all distribution platforms, including social media, coding and emerging media, with emphasis on differentiation by platform and time frame.
  • How to find, evaluate and present credible and reliable data.

Performance – Journalism teachers and scholastic media advisers:

  • Use technology (including computers, mobile devices, cameras, internet, etc.) as teaching and production tools.
  • Use text, graphics, photography, audio, video, social media as appropriate to emphasize the range of storytelling possibilities.
  • Encourage creative approaches to information design and packaging for student media.
  • Show positive professional examples which include proper sourcing and transparency and contrast those with poorly sourced journalism to help students understand the difference and identify whether media sources are credible.
  • Construct and utilize financial guidelines for scholastic media relating to subscriptions, advertising, activity funds and fundraising with students as decision-makers.
  • Construct and utilize staff organizational models that emphasize responsibility, risk-taking, problem-solving under student leadership.
  • Construct and utilize production schedules that encourage scholastic journalists to mirror practices of professional journalists, including the accountability and structure of a rigorous deadline system.
  • Ensure students understand their roles as curators of content in school-based media and their rights and responsibilities as journalists.

Standard #2 – Knowledge of Learning Theory

Knowledge – Journalism teachers understand:

  • Theories of human behavior and cognition that help nurture journalism students.
  • Principles of effective classroom management and assessment.
  • Rights and responsibilities within a journalism education environment.
  • Conditions that enhance the development of life-long learning.
  • The influence of students’ diverse backgrounds, attitude, interests and expectations on their communication skills.
  • Methods for selecting case studies and examples about media to help students understand the importance of sourcing that reflects diverse perspectives and rigorous verification of information.
  • Interrelationship and concurrent development of each communication skill.
  • Ways the public forms its opinions and the process/interaction involved.
  • Value and effective use of research in a mass media setting.

Performance – Journalism teachers:

  • Create a media-rich atmosphere for students to learn both collaboratively and individually.
  • Model and nurture life-long learning.
  • Use knowledge of journalism and media literacy skills to design appropriate learning experiences.
  • Integrate a variety of media within instruction/curriculum.
  • Select and order assignments that support integrated units of instruction.
  • Set meaningful goals as part of short and long-term planning for journalism instruction.

Standard #3 – Knowledge of and Adaptation to Diverse Students

Knowledge – Journalism teachers understand:

  • Learning theories and how they relate to individual students’ diverse backgrounds and learning styles.
  • Influence of diversity on the ways students learn and use media and communication skills.
  • Materials and instructional activities appropriate for helping students to connect to, extend and enhance their unique media and communications skills development.
  • Necessity of journalistic diversity to allow for greater accuracy in coverage

Performance – Journalism teachers:

  • Base instruction on students’ strengths and build upon student differences to further journalism learning.
  • Plan journalism instruction that accommodates a wide range of learners with different learning needs and experiences.
  • Recruit and develop a diverse student staff and use awareness of diversity to enhance understanding of journalistic media.
  • Use a variety of materials including publications, emerging media, software, equipment and instructional activities to empower students to use media and symbol systems effectively.
  • Respect the worth, contributions, abilities and language of all learners.
  • Create environments that support respectful approaches to individual differences.
  • Use a variety of assessment strategies including rubrics, portfolios and projects, differentiating presentation, schedule and setting as needed so all students can successfully participate and be assessed.

Standard #4 – Knowledge of Instructional Environment

Knowledge – Journalism teachers understand:

  • Use of discussion for a variety of purposes to suit the needs of students.
  • Use of questioning to show understanding, help students articulate their ideas and thinking processes, promote risk-taking and problem-solving, facilitate recall of information, develop critical thinking skills, stimulate curiosity and help students question on their own.
  • Value of conferencing as a strategy for working with individual students.
  • Environments that support learning about various aspects of the media.
  • Atmospheres that address students’ needs for a sense of belonging to the school and to the larger community.

Performance – Journalism teachers:

  • Create classrooms that encourage active participation in learning communities.
  • Promote students’ appreciation and understanding of audience and the ways to communicate with different audiences.
  • Help students understand their unique role as disseminators of information and their rights as journalists and media consumers.
  • Employ and model the use of technology as an essential component of learning and production of media.
  • Use various avenues to encourage students to take responsibility for their learning and production of media.
  • Invite and reward positive risk-taking through experimentation.
  • Encourage students to consider journalism or mass media as a career possibility.

Standard #5 – Assessment

Knowledge – Journalism teachers understand:

  • Multiple assessment strategies for reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, designing and producing.
  • Appropriate times to use each type of assessment.
  • Ways to use information from assessments to promote student learning.
  • Interpretation of various data assessing the learners’ skills and abilities.
  • Ways to convey those interpretations to students, parents, administrators and community stakeholders.

Performance – Journalism teachers:

  • Respond effectively and constructively on an ongoing basis to students’ work.
  • Recognize students’ production and publication errors as a means of making curricular choices for individual and group instruction.
  • Design a variety of assessment tools such as selected and constructed response items, portfolios, objective quizzes and tests, rubrics, projects, publications and guided reflection.
  • Use assessment results to shape or revise instructional design and/or strategies.
  • Interpret and report assessment methods and results to students, administrators, parents and the public.
  • Use the requirements of state and national evaluation tools to make informed curricular choices and instructional strategies as appropriate to journalism.
  • Guide students in learning to assess their own growth through creation of career portfolios of their work, publications, photography and digital media.

Standard #6 – Professional Development

Knowledge – Journalism teachers understand:

  • The value of professional organizations/associations, conferences, certification and licensure, advanced coursework, internships and other professional opportunities in the journalism field to enhance professional growth.
  • A variety of ways to evaluate reflectively their own practice and continue their own learning.
  • The importance of teacher collaboration and cross-disciplinary cooperation.
  • The purposes of and ways to generate classroom research.
  • The value of enthusiasm in a dynamic journalism/media program.

Performance – Journalism teachers:

  • Attend conferences, workshops, graduate education classes and other professional development opportunities in journalism and related fields.
  • Study professional media and research relevant to journalism instruction on a regular basis and conduct classroom research to improve their practice.
  • Participate in continual personal and collegial reflection on practice.
  • Use a variety of ways to monitor the effects of their practices on students, parents, colleagues and community professionals.
  • Collaborate with colleagues in journalism and other disciplines for curriculum development and research.
  • Investigate their own biases and seek to resolve problems that stem from areas of conflict.
  • Model effective audio and visual storytelling, writing, designing and effective journalism/multimedia skills and uses.
  • Create opportunities for professional/scholastic association critiques of programs/publications.
  • Seek professional licensure, certification and/or an advanced degree in a relevant media-focused field.


Standards for Indiana Journalism Educators, State of Michigan Professional Standards for the Preparation of Teachers of Journalism, and the Journalism Standards Grades 6-12 from the State of Kansas were the basis for many of these national standards.

Initially provided by the Journalism Education Association and Scholastic Journalism Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Updated by Logan Aimone, MJE, Marina Hendricks, MJE, Michael Hernandez, Sarah Nichols, MJE, and Justin Raisner (September 2019).

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