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Death By Cheeseburger book available again

(07/21/09 2:52pm)

SPLC friend and student press advocate extraordinaire Brian Schraum, who is working at the First Amendment Center in Nashville this summer, has created an electronic copy of the Freedom Forum's very readable 1994 book, Death By Cheeseburger: High School Journalism in the 1990s and Beyond, and made it available on the FAC's Web site as a free PDF download. The book, one of the most comprehensive looks at high school journalism ever published, has been out of print and generally unavailable for many years. While Brian accurately notes that much of the information is out of date, it still retains relevancy today both as a research guide and a historical marker of high school journalism in the 1990's.

Retired Supreme Court justice warns of "dangerous state of civics knowledge"

(08/10/09 4:41pm)

If the various surveys from the last several years pointing out the deplorable state of American civics education and understanding weren't convincing enough, recently retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter — noting that two-thirds of Americans can't name all three branches of the American government — told those attending the American Bar Association's annual meeting this month that such ignorance is "dangerous" and "something to worry about." It is certainly something that we at the SPLC — where, working with students and school officials, we see the effects of such ignorance and lack of appreciation on a regular basis — have been talking about for years.

Student photojournalist's Woodstock coverage featured at Newseum

(08/11/09 11:52am)

If you’re in the D.C. area between now and October 31, make time to check out the Newseum’s recently opened “Woodstock at 40” photo gallery – not just for the story, but for the story behind the story. The back-story is that major news organizations largely underestimated the significance of the upstate New York music festival.

Another warning about the sad state of American civics education

(10/15/09 8:33pm)

Lou Ureneck, chairman of the journalism department at Boston University, has a column in The Boston Globe this week that sounds yet another warning bell about the "sorry" (I might substitute "scary") state of our nation's "civic health" and the impact it has -- and will continue to have -- on political discourse in the United States.

Finally -- some good news about civics ed!

(10/19/09 1:53pm)

It looks like the incoming president of the American Bar Association has been reading many of the same alarming surveys we've discussed and has seen enough: He intends to make civics education the hallmark issue of his presidency. ABA President-Elect Stephen Zack said in an interview this week that he wants the group, the largest voluntary professional organization in the world with more than 400,000 lawyer and law-student members, to take a leadership role in creating a pilot program with other bar associations that would give students from every high school in the country the opportunity to participate in an educational course that would immerse them in civics.

Show your First Amendment passion — and win a cool $2k

(01/13/10 6:01pm)

The Radio Television Digital News Foundation (RTDNF) will award $2,500 in prize money to the students who create the most inspiring and exciting 30-second public service announcement (PSA) showing the importance of the First Amendment's five freedoms — speech, press, religion, assembly and the right to petition — and demonstrating how those freedoms protect us all. The contest is open to both high school and middle school students, with the first place high school winner taking home $2,000 and the first place middle school winner $500.

Haitian earthquake photos available to student media

(01/28/10 11:26am)

We have had several students contact us regarding their use of news media photos to include with their newspaper or yearbook coverage of the Haitian earthquake. As usual, the general rule for using copyrighted material applies: If you didn't take the photo and/or you don't own the copyright to it, you must first obtain permission, which sometimes requires paying for a license.

Defense lawyers' revised strategy may moot subpoena for Medill student journalists' records

(02/11/10 8:52pm)

The showdown over state prosecutors' demands for the news-gathering materials of Northwestern University student journalists may be resolved without confronting the core issue of the students' entitlement to protection under the Illinois reporter shield law. Lawyers for Anthony McKinney, whose conviction in the 1978 shooting death of a Chicago security guard was the subject of the student journalists' investigation, have decided not to rely on three witnesses whose testimony is central to prosecutors' subpoena to the Medill Innocence Project. The Project is part of Northwestern's journalism school, and students enrolled in Prof.

Saving education coverage - here's one solution that costs nothing, except trust

(06/22/10 8:48pm)

One-point-four percent. That is how much of their time and space leading news organizations are devoting to education coverage, according to scholars at The Brookings Institution who've studied how the decline in staffing at mainstream media outlets is impacting both the quantity and the quality of school news. The Brookings study, "Invisible: 1.4 Percent Coverage for Education is Not Enough," was released in December 2009 by a team headed by Darrell M.

Back to School Checklist: Evaluating your staff’s ‘media-law radar’

(08/31/10 7:13pm)

For better or worse, knowledge of the law continues to be an ever-growing part of the skill set required of all journalists, including students. One fairly quick -- and mostly painless/sometimes entertaining -- way to check how much your students/staff know about media law as they head back to the newsroom is to direct them to the SPLC's Test Your Knowledge of Student Media Law quiz series.

Touching the third rail of school reform -- if teachers are accountable, why not principals?

(09/09/10 12:59pm)

When public school teachers are terrible at their jobs -- when their students consistently fail to learn anything, when they are demeaning or abusive to those under their supervision -- they can be denied pay raises, refused tenure, discharged and (in extreme cases) brought before teacher certification boards and stripped of their licenses.

UNL paper's architecture sex story prompts backlash

(02/10/11 1:05pm)

A Daily Nebraskan article that discusses the sex lives of University of Nebraska-Lincoln architecture students has caused a flurry of controversy for the newspaper. The story, which appeared in the arts and entertainment section, quotes multiple sources by their first names only, with an illustration alongside showing two students having sex on a drafting table.