Adviser Update Adviser Update Fall 2017 - Page 18

PR ES S R IGH T S M IN UTE Don’t let funny things happe A new school year often brings new challenges for a new staff and sometimes a new adviser. John Bowen John Bowen, MJE, is an adjunct professor at Kent State, chair of Journalism Education Association (JEA) Scholastic Press Rights Commitee and former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. Bowen has been a member of the SPLC Board of Directors and convener of the SPLC Advisory Council and a high school journalism teacher and adviser. One of these challenges is to ensure your students have the best possible editorial policy, accompanying ethical guidelines and staff manual procedures. The language of those policies (whether they give editorial control to students or keep it in the hands of school officials) and the amount of freedom that students have traditionally operated under at the school can determine whether Hazelwood or Tinker sets the standard for what school officials will be allowed to censor. The Journalism Education Association’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee (SPRC) Foundation package can help both beginners and experienced advisers and their students achieve an informational package that guides and protects students, adviser and school system. Such a package starts with students choosing which of three forums they would rather be: • A CLOSED FORUM is akin to a school or PTA newsletter, content controlled by adults. • A LIMITED PUBLIC FORUM suggests the forum is “open” but limited in some way. How it is limited is the crucial determination. At least one court case suggests schools can limit content and national policy consultants have that interpretation. • A DESIGNATED PUBLIC OR OPEN FORUM gives students final control of the content. A designated public forum is created when school officials have “by policy or by practice” opened a publication for use by students to engage in their own free expression. Of the three types of forums, JEA strongly endorses the designated (open) public forum model. Specifically, the SPRC endorses this statement for scholastic media editorial policies: [Name of publication] is a designated public forum for student expression. Student editors make all content decisions without prior review from school officials. Two things are important about the phrasing of this policy statement. First is the use of the words “designated public forum” as opposed to “limited public forum” or other similar language. Although many once believed the two phrases were interchangeable, some recent court decisions have suggested that using the word “limited” opens the door to school censorship as permitted under Hazelwood. Second, using the phrase “student editors make all content decisions” is in many ways a clearer restatement of the meaning of “designated