Wednesday, February 28, 2007

More info on how to support HB 1307

As House Bill 1307, the Student Free Press Bill, awaits further debate and a possible vote on the House of Representatives floor, Rep. Dave Upthegrove (the author of the bill) has passed along a pressing request to those who support the bill:

Anything you can do to get people to contact their Democratic legislators is needed ASAP. Even if they have called/written before, they should do it again. This time, the message to the Democratic legislators should be to ask them to urge the Speaker of the House and their caucus to allow a vote on the bill .

Again, you can search for your legislators here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

State Conference is right around the corner;
more session presenters confirmed

The annual WJEA state conference is now only less than two weeks away, and we continue to assemble a stellar lineup of presenters for sessions at the conferenece. It's still not too late to register for the conference!

In addition to the lineup already reported on this site, we've added some new faces:

  • Mike Sando, Seahawks beat reporter for The (Tacoma) News Tribune and award-winning blogger, will be talking about the Seahawks, sports writing, and how blogging has changed the way journalists do their jobs.
  • Jim Moore, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's "Go 2 Guy," will be giving tips on what makes him a successful columnist at a major metropolitain daily.
  • Mike McLaughlin, former high school and college publications adviser and current desk editor for the Seattle P-I, will help editors and writers alike learn how to write better copy, headlines and captions.
  • DeWayne Crust, video productions teacher at Rogers High School, will help students learn about the world of film festivals, direct from his very own classroom at the host school.

You can find the appropriate registration forms to download at

Monday, February 26, 2007

Still fighting misconceptions of HB 1307

Kudos to WJEA member Fern Valentine for this letter to the editor of The (Tacoma) News Tribune, which was designed to combat the assertion that administrative control of student publications was akin to administrators setting appropriate standards for a school dance.

The News Tribune previously wrote an editorial supporting House Bill 1307, then wrote an editorial supporting an administrator who condemned "dirty dancing" at his school. A reader found this disingenuous:

What you did have right was your statement in the editorial, “It is the nature of adolescents to push the limits and it’s the job of responsible adults to enforce them.” I would add that adolescents have the same tendency to push their limits in their school newspaper as on the school dance floor.

Valentine took exception, submitting this response, which was published today:

Obviously, the writer hasn’t read House Bill 1307. School editors are not unsupervised. Their advisers and their principals have the right to enforce the limits set by the bill. The bill would give the students the right to report responsibly on topics of their choice without fear of censorship because the principal is uncomfortable with the topic.

This process of responsible reporting teaches critical thinking and research skills in a setting where students work together, using technology, to meet deadlines, work within budgets and produce media their audience wants. Finding ways for students to learn these important skills is the job of the schools and the bill promotes that type of learning and deserves support for that reason.

Dirty dancing is a whole different matter.

Way to go Fern!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

A teacher looking for CTE help ...

A teacher in our state is looking for help with Career and Technical Education certification. She writes:

Has anyone found a way to get vocational certification for a high school journalism program?

Our funding is slim and getting slimmer, and I am looking for ways to keep the program going.

Lane Morgan at Nooksack Valley

I actually have my CTE certificate, but I was able to earn it because of extensive professional journalism experience before I became a teacher. Maybe there's someone out there who has their CTE certification who secured it a different way? Leave feedback on the comments below ...

Friday, February 23, 2007

House Bill 1307 makes it out of Rules Committee,
heads to House floor for second reading

Supporters of student journalism in Washington received a huge piece of news today when the House Rules Committee sent HB 1307, the Student Free Press Bill, to a second reading before the general House. This means it likely will be voted on from the House floor sometime before March 14, the deadline for passing the bill out of the House.

While nothing is a sure thing, this is yet another huge step in the right direction for the passage of this bill. A similar bill proposed in the early 1990s never made it out of the Rules Committee.

According to the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-Des Moines), it is now more important than ever that supporters of the bill contact their legislators to express their support for HB 1307. You can find your legislator by clicking here and entering your address. You do not have to be of voting age to contact your legislator. You also can express your support for the bill by calling the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

For all the information on the bill itself, check out the static links on the right hand side of the page.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A journalism booster club success story

We journalism advisers often struggle with how to get our parents more involved in the journalism programs we oversee. One well-documented parent support group is FANs at Mountlake Terrace High School's The Hawkeye, and another one seems to be off to a smashing start.

Wenatchee High School journalism adviser Logan Aimone wrote on his blog today about the kickoff event for the WHS Journalsm Booster Club, and it sounds like it hardly could have gone better. The group raised over $3,000 to be spent on the journalism program, but that wasn't the highlight of the night for Aimone:

"(T)he real reward is not the generosity of dollars but of the people who are so excited to be supporting scholastic journalism — a program not just for their kids but for all of our students. It was awesome to see the donations come in from parents of students that graduated two, five, seven years ago. And tonight the parents socialized with each other so much, looked at past yearbooks and newspapers, ogled the table of plaques and certificates, and watched students demonstrate InDesign and Photoshop. There was such an electricity in the air, and it was all about scholastic journalism at WHS."

You can find the full post here, and it certainly has challenged me to find new ways to get my parents involved in the JagWire program (beyond bringing dinner for the kids on deadline). And if I know Logan, I'm sure he'd love to share how he got the ball rolling.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A case to keep an eye on from the SPLC: How far off campus can administrators go?

With the proliferation of personal publishing on the Internet in the last few years -- think, blogging, etc. -- much has been made of just how far schools can go to regulate the off-campus speech of students.

One case that could have significant impact over just how much power schools have to punish students for what they say off campus is Morse v. Frederick, which will go before the Supreme Court next month. Essentially, a student who was off campus at an event outside school hours displayed a banner that the prinicpal felt was inconsistent with the school's mission and subsequently suspended him for 10 days.

The Student Press Law Center has filed a brief with the court supporting protection of off-campus speech, which you can find here. While this case wouldn't seem to specifically apply to free speech in sanctioned school publications, the SPLC argues:

"(Such a) wide-sweeping view of school power over independent, off-campus student speech has the potential to chill all types of student expression."

Additionally, the SPLC goes on to say:

"It could be used to justify punishment of a student for attending a public rally against illegal immigration that school officials deem insensitive or for writing a letter to the editor of a community newspaper condemning gay marriage that the school decides is intolerant. A student distributing leaflets in the public park urging the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes could find himself subject to punishment as could a student who wears an athletic jersey with a beer company logo on a weekend trip to the supermarket with his parents."

A full press release on the briefing can be found here. It's a case that bears watching if you publish your own thoughts outside school hours ...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Another editorial in support of HB 1307

After some initial resistance from some members of the professional media to support House Bill 1307, the Student Free Press Bill, more and more publications are going on the record in support of the bill. The (Spokane) Spokesman-Review is the latest, with this editorial.

Among the highlights:

"Student journalism is an arena where young people can and should learn the value of bold public discourse. Unfortunately, many administrators get nervous when that happens in their buildings. Too often they restrain expression rather than nourish it. Which is why SHB 1307 is needed. ...

"It's hardly a radical concept, and it's already recognized in general under several sections of the body of regulations known as the Washington Administrative Law. Securing the concept in statute is the next step for Washington state to reinforce a First Amendment truth: Freedom of expression means little if it can be used only when authorities approve."

For the record, professional media with staff editorials supporting the bill now include the Spokesman-Review, The USA Today, The (Tacoma) News Tribune and The (Everett) Herald. Additionally, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Associate Publisher supported the bill by testifying at the House Judiciary Committee and writing a column.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

WJEA co-sponsors First Amendment event for advisers

This has been passed along by WJEA President Kathy Schrier:

A reminder that WJEA will co-sponsor (with the CWU Department of Communication) a March 8 half-day event at Central Washington University (Ellensburg) specifically for teachers, media advisers and administrators who want to know more about how the First Amendment functions on school campuses in our

Clock hours will be available for this half-day of expert presentations and discussions on this timely and important topic.

I don't have a place right now for you to download the brochure, but if you e-mail me, I'll forward it along.

Newspaper columnist seeks input on HB 1307

Dean Kahn, a columnist at the Bellingham Herald, is asking for the input of student journalists and their advisers to add clarity to the questions about House Bill 1307 on his blog, which you can find here.

If you have time, share some of your thoughts and views on the importance of a free student press by clicking on the comment link at the top. So far, there have been very few comments from those who actually will be impacted by the legislation. Most have been from people who don't understand the nuances and complexities of a high school newsroom.

Have your voice heard!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Time is runing out to register for WJEA State Conference on March 10 at Rogers HS

"A lot of young people are not getting news from newspapers. The electron has eliminated the middleman. . . . [But] there can never be a replacement for people who can consolidate news and information into readable form."
- Joseph A. Hays, retired Tribune Co. executive, 2006

The WJEA state journalism conference -- this year titled "Journalism 2.0: The Convergence of Media and Technology" -- is now less than a month away, and if you haven't registered your staff yet, it's time to get on board! The last day you can send off your registration and avoid a $10 late fee is Feb. 15, but if you miss it, don't worry ... there's still room!

Registration materials, which can be downloaded here, will give you the full scoop, but here are some fo the things you have to look forward to by coming to Puyallup on March 10:
  • Keynote speaker Mark Briggs, who has served as editor of, the flagship Web site for The News Tribune, since 2004.
  • Writeoff competitions in nearly 20 categories, with each entry being individually judged by local professional journalists.
  • Sessions on a variety of topics, presented by journalism professionals.
  • Best of Show competition

Not sold yet? Check out some of the people who are scheduled to present sessions:

  • The (Tacoma) News Tribune movie reviewer Soren Anderson, photographer Russ Carmack and sports/outdoors writer Craig Hill
  • Student Press Law Center consulting attorney Mike Hiestand
  • Design expert Mike Watters of Colby Creative
  • Award-winning advisers Logan Aimone (The Apple Leaf and Wa-Wa, Wenatchee HS), Vince DeMiero (The Hawkeye, Mountlake Terrace HS), Susan Fergueson (Cat Tails and Tenas Coma, Mt. Si HS), Dan Hardebeck (The Blazer, Timberline HS), and Jeff Nusser (JagWire, Emerald Ridge HS)
  • WJEA President Kathy Schrier
  • WSU student journalist and House Bill 1307 architect Brian Schraum
  • WJEA Administrator of the Year Brian Lowney (Emerald Ridge HS)
  • And more are being added every week!

What are you waiting for? For even more information, visit

Monday, February 12, 2007

USA Today supports HB 1307 with editorial

Supporters of the Student Free Press Bill, House Bill 1307, got a boost this morning when the USA Today wrote an editorial supporting students' First Amendment rights titled, "Schools fail Free Speech 101: Muzzling student press sends the wrong message":

"Why are some American schools, which are supposed to instill the values of democracy in the nation's youth, instead teaching censorship? The probable answer is the same one that blocks democracy in Iraq, Russia and any number of other places in the world: When those in power find free speech uncomfortable, they're tempted to squash it. ...

"A major function of schools is to prepare students for life in a democracy. And one of the cornerstones of democracy is the free exchange of ideas. Lessons in bowing to life under censorship shouldn't be part of the curriculum."

The USA Today also published an opposing viewpoint from Arcella Hall, president of the Association of Washington School Principals and principal of Grandview High School. She argues:

"We rely on administrators' judgment for so many other things going on in schools, from hiring teachers and guiding curriculum to providing a safe learning environment. Why shouldn't student media — and journalism educators — be subject to accountability by those running the institution? ...

"In our state, we're fortunate to have several nationally recognized student papers. These same outstanding student reporters say a solid working relationship with advisers and principals has contributed to their success. Like real-world editors, good principals meet with their advisers and student journalists to discuss stories. They encourage the tackling of tough issues in lieu of easy, tabloid-style stories."

She neglects to mention, however, that Washington state's nationally recognized student newspapers -- including all five Pacemaker winners in 2006 -- operate in a free press environment where prinicipals DO NOT review the content of the newspaper prior to publication.

It is not a coincidence that students do their best work in the least restrictive environment ...

Friday, February 09, 2007

New WJEA Blog unveiled -- and at your service!

Welcome to the new incarnation of the WJEA Blog, designed to serve the student journalists and scholastic journalism advisers of Washington state!

If you've been to this site before, some of the changes you'll notice right away, such as a redesign of the site. But other changes will be more subtle. For example, we're going to use this space to pass along information more frequently, hoping you'll check in a couple of times a week to catch up on the world of scholastic journalism. We'll post information that we believe will be useful to you, and give you a take on what it might mean for you.

We've added a number of features to the site to serve you better:
  • If you look down the right-hand side of the site, you'll see a statement of purpose and some information on how all readers of the blog can contribute.
  • Beneath that, you'll see some useful links -- headlined by a link to -- to many of the organizations that support scholastic journalism.
  • Next, you'll find a series of links dedicated to information on House Bill 1307, the proposed legislation that, if passed, would prohibit school administrators from censoring student media except in certain instances of unprotected speech.
  • After that, you'll find a series of links provided by RSS feeds from the Poynter Institute on a variety of journalism-related topics. If you're not familiar with Poynter, get familiar -- they do awesome stuff that is extremely useful, from high school journalists on up to professionals.
  • Lastly, you'll find a list of "labels" that will help you get to posts that interest you quickly and easily. For example, if you're looking for all the posts related to House Bill 1307, you would just click on that label, and it will search for all the posts with that label. And beneath that is the archive.
With that said, your first two posts are below -- one an update on the status of House Bill 1307, and the other a look at many of the scholarships that are out there for student journalists.

I hope you enjoy -- and, as usual, feedback is welcome!

UPDATE: House Bill 1307 now on to Rules Committee as supporters try to combat misinformation

We haven't had an update on House Bill 1307 -- also known as the Student Press Freedom Bill -- in a little while, so here's a quick update on where the bill stands.

First off, the bill -- which would keep administrators from censoring student media except in circumstances of illegal speech -- successfully made it out of the House Judiciary Committee on Jan. 31 (thanks to a 7-4 vote that was along party lines, with the Democrats on the committee voting in favor) and now is off to the Rules Committee. This committee controls whether the bill eventually makes it to the House floor for a vote.

During that process, the bill was amended a bit. The essential elements remain unchanged. According to the House Bill Report, this is how the substitute bill, which you can find here, compares to the original bill:

The substitute bill added that the act does not authorize student expression that violates the Federal Communications Act or rules of the Federal Communications Commission. In addition, the substitute bill includes a provision that the act does not apply to educational programs in adult or juvenile correctional institutions or secure facilities for the confinement of sexually violent predators.

For now, the bill is in a bit of a holding pattern until the Rules Committee decides to take it up. We'll let you know when there is new information to report.

Outside of Olympia, the bill has engendered a lot of passionate opinions on both sides. The Seattle Times wrote perhaps the most critical editorial of the bill, titling it "Young journalists, meet your editors." In the editorial, the Times argues:

"A bill in Olympia that would strip high-school and college educators of the ability to make editorial decisions in school newspapers goes too far to correct a problem that could be solved collaboratively. ...

"The daily life of a journalist and editor is one of give and take. The best journalists become so by a constant head-butting collaboration with editors. Student journalists would be well-served by learning to collaborate with superiors rather than bypassing them."

In response, a number of WJEA members -- including WJEA president Kathy Schrier -- wrote letters to the Times (found here) to try and correct many of the incorrect assumptions about the bill and how it would affect journalism education in Washington. A sampling from those letters:

"The Washington Journalism Education Association (WJEA) and its national counterpart, the Journalism Education Association (JEA) provide training to student media advisers in journalism standards and media law. ... These devoted teachers are advisers. Yes, advisers. Not publishers. Not editors. And more important, not censors. We at WJEA urge critics to take a closer look at this bill and the clarity it provides for administrators, advisers and especially for students." -- Kathy Schrier, WJEA President

"You are journalists so you, of all people, should know that when we, students, care about our publications and are given the authority to make all content decisions, we will make the right ones." -- Matt Anderson, Tacoma

"Student newspapers serve a watchdog role within their schools, and administrators who insist on taking an intimate role in the publication process not only cause major credibility issues for these journalists, but they create an inevitable chilling effect on the free flow of information." -- Jeff Nusser, adviser, Emerald Ridge H.S. JagWire

"Since 1990, Colorado high-school journalism students have thoughtfully practiced responsible journalism under a law similar to the one currently being proposed in Washington. During that time — and contrary to The Times' assertion — I have taught essential journalistic intangibles such as editorial judgment." -- Mark Newton, adviser, The Orange & Black student newsmagazine; chair, Certification Commission, Journalism Education Association; journalim teacher, Grand Junction (Colorado) High School

Additionally, Student Press Law Center Executive Director Mark Goodman wrote his own response, the full text of which you can find here, titled, "Why young people hate the media." In it, he says:

"Time and again, young people see a commercial news media that believes the First Amendment should only be big enough to cover its own behind and that press freedom really isn't that important unless it is somehow the direct beneficiary of its protection. ...

"If I am one of the more than 100 young people who packed a hearing room of the legislature last week to show their support for the bill (or the thousands of their peers who couldn't get out of school but were there in spirit), what do I make of this? Once again, the commercial news media has betrayed us."

Washington-based attorney Mike Hiestand also has posted this FAQ page regarding HB 1307 on the Student Press Law Center Web site, designed to bring clarity to the questions surrounding the legislation.

There's money out there for seniors and underclassmen ... you just gotta apply!

The seniors at my school constantly complain about the lack of viable scholarships as they get ready to move on to college. Yet many scholarship givers lament the lack of qualified applicants for their money.

What gives?

Well, the biggest thing is that many seniors eliminate themselves from consideration for scholarships simply because they never apply for ones that they figure they will never get. Additionally, many students avoid smaller scholarships, assuming their time is better spent going after the ones that are worth more money. The problem with that, of course, is that everybody else is thinking that, too, so oftentimes very few people apply for a scholarship.

Sounds like an opportunity to me! Below you will find links to a number of scholarship opportunities for student journalists in the state of Washington. Many of them receive very few applicants, and would be well worth your time to apply for. Take it from someone who has student loans -- four or five scholarships between $500 and $1,000 add up very quickly!

Take note: Some of them have deadlines that are fast approaching ...
  • Lu Flannery Outstanding Journalist Award
    Amount: $750
    Deadline: Feb. 15
    Description: One journalism senior (newspaper, yearbook or broadcast) is awarded this honor, plus $750 is applied to tuition at the college of his/her choice. Advisers of all applicants must be WJEA members.
  • Future Journalist of the Year
    Amount: $750
    Deadline: Feb. 15
    Description: One journalism senior (newspaper, yearbook or broadcast) is awarded this honor, plus $750 is applied to tuition at the college of his/her choice. The winner is Washington's entry into the JEA National High School Journalist of the Year competition. Advisers of all applicants must be WJEA members.
  • NSPA Honor Roll
    Amount: $1,000
    Deadline: Feb. 15
    Description: The NSPA Journalism Honor Roll honors student journalists who have achieved a 3.75 or higher grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) and have worked in student media for two or more years. Additionally, seniors who qualify for the Honor Roll and submit additional information requested on the entry form are entered into a competition for one or more $1,000 scholarships. All Honor Roll inductees will receive a certificate of recognition, and a listing of all inductees into the Honor Roll will be published in NSPA's Best of the High School Press.
  • Wikoff Scholarship for Editorial Leadership
    Amount: $1,000
    Deadline: Feb. 15
    Description: The $1,000 award will be given to a high school senior on the staff of an NSPA member newspaper with a minimum 3.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale or equivalent. In addition to the entry form, applicants must submit three published editorials and a brief recommendation from the paper's adviser.
  • Seattle Foundation/Patricia Fisher Endowed Scholarship
    Amount: Varies
    Deadline: March 31
    Description: The scholarship program is open to African-American students with a serious career interest in print, photo or broadcast journalism. Awards will be made based on scholastic achievement, financial need, and commitment to journalism and to minorities. To be eligible, you must be a high school senior living in Washington State. To apply, you will need to submit a completed application, two reference letters and a school transcript. Work samples are optional, but recommended. Applicants must ask their school to send an official grade transcript directly to the scholarship committee.
  • Northwest Journalists of Color Awards
    Amount: Up to $1,000
    Deadline: May 1
    Description: The Northwest Journalists of Color scholarship program provides five financial grants of up to $1,000 to Washington state high school and college students seeking careers in journalism. NJC's goal is to help motivated Asian American, African American, Native American and Latino students become journalists. Applicants must be enrolled in accredited colleges or universities(not necessarily in Washington state) or in their senior year at a Washington state high school. Past winners are eligible to reapply. This scholarship is aimed at Any Minority students.
  • There also are a number of other national scholarships, which you can find here. The next deadline for any of those awards is Feb. 27; most of the deadlines are in March.

What's that? You say you're not a senior? There are other awards out there for you, too ...

  • WJEA Summer Workshop Study Grants
    Amount: $250
    Deadline: To be determined.
    Description: Two or more $250 WJEA Summer Workshop study grants in journalism are awarded to students in grades eight through 11.
  • Journalism Summer Workshop at Seattle University
    Amount: Tuition, room and board for the workshop
    Deadline: April 3
    Description: A hands-on camp for 14 high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors of color. Usually 10 to 12 students are selected to report/write articles and 2 to 4 for a photojournalism component. All expenses are paid. Students receive intensive instruction from journalists and university professionals. During the workshop students will interview and photograph newsmakers. After the workshop professional journalists will assist students in getting their stories or photographs published by news organizations. Students have seen their work published by Associated Press, MSNBC, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Times, Tri-City Herald, The Wenatchee World, Yakima
    Herald-Republic, the Everett Herald, and The News Tribune. College scholarships are awarded to outstanding workshop participants.
  • Courage in Student Journalism Award
    Amount: Two awards of $5,000
    Deadline: July 1
    Description: The Newseum, the interactive museum of news in Arlington, Va., joins forces with the Student Press Law Center and the National Scholastic Press Association to present the Courage in Student Journalism Award. Two awards of $5,000 each will be presented. The first award is presented to a deserving middle- or high school journalist who has shown determination, despite difficulty and resistance, in lawfully exercising his or her First Amendment press rights. A second $5,000 award is presented to a school administrator who has demonstrated support, under difficult circumstances, for the First Amendment press rights of his or her school's student media. (The student journalist and administrator need not be from the same school.)

There are other awards out there too. If you happen to run across one, send it along to, and we'll get it posted here.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bear with us as we change!

The WJEA blog is going to be undergoing some significant changes over the next week or so. Please bear with us as we work through the glitches ...

If you have questions about the new setup (or, better yet, have suggestions for what you'd like to see), you can e-mail us at We'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for your patience.