Friday, August 31, 2007

More details on Everett settlement

Here's the story from the Student Press Law Center. Additionally, you can read the district's take on the settlement in its official release here.

Lawsuit against Everett School District settled out of court

Two former Everett School District students, Claire Lueneburg and Sarah Eccleston, have settled their two-year-old First Amendment lawsuit with the district just as it was set to go to trial.

Each side is claiming victory, according to The (Everett) Herald.

Mitch Cogdill, an Everett lawyer who represented the two student editors, said the young journalists got what they wanted school administration review of material prior to publication but "not subject to (administration) approval."

"I feel like this pretty much gets us exactly what we wanted," Lueneburg said. "I think we have achieved everything and this is a victory for us."

Michael Patterson, the school district's Seattle attorney, disagrees.

"They absolutely lost," Patterson said. "This is total vindication for the Everett School District."

Who's right? It's unclear.

Although there aren't a lot of details in the story, the fact that both sides claim victory seems to indicate an ambiguity that is likely to set up students, advisers and administrators in that district for more headaches in the future.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tacoma News Trbune seeking contributors for fair blog

The News Tribune, of Tacoma, is looking for high school journalism students to help them with a blog about the Puyallup Fair. If this is something you would be interested in doing, contact Eijiro Kawada at (253) 597-8233, or E-mail him at:

Struggling for story ideas? Try this.

In a recent meeting I had with David Zeeck and Karen Peterson, Executive and Managing Editors of The News Tribune, I asked what they recommended for staffs who, during brainstorming, just can't seem to come up with enough story ideas.

Their responses weren't surprising. What was surprising, however, was the fact that I had never even thought about looking in these places.

They told me to contact any organization that keeps public records regarding your school. They suggested places like The University of Washington, who keeps records of how many students applied and got accepted from your school. You could use this info to do a comparison story between your school and the other schools in your district or even the other schools in the state.

They also suggested looking on On the website, there is a link to Al's Morning Meeting. The link will bring you to a column on the site with different events that are making news. It is a daily column, it also gives ideas as to how you may be able to make the ideas relevant to local audiences. Now, the column is intended for our professional media counterparts, so you may have to think a bit about how to relate them to students, but it can be done, believe me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Everett HS student press rights trial starts Sept 4

After nearly two years, the two former editors of the Everett High School KODAK will have their day(s) in court. The case, filed against the Everett School District for infringement of First Amendment rights, will be heard in Seattle Federal District Court beginning Sept. 4. The case is being watched around the nation.

Members of WJEA will be in the courtroom and will relay the highlights via this blog spot after each days' proceedings.

For a full history of the case, the best record can be found on the Student Press Law Center site: Their news archives will carry you back to the very beginning of the case, with updated stories as the case has evolved over time. Look too for related stories on Everett School District actions against the student underground publication at Jackson High School.

This court proceeding, set for the very beginning of the school year, will put the issue of student press freedom in the news once again. Please be ready, and encourage your students to be ready, to participate in the dialogue that will ensue on this important issue.

We will keep you posted in the coming weeks.

Kathy Schrier
president, WJEA

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Redesign tip #1

First things, first. I am Matt Anderson. I've been on the staff of the Puyallup High school newspaper, The Viking Vanguard, for two years (this will be my third). This year, I was chosen as Editor-in-chief. For the last year, I've been reading this blog to stay up to date with what's happening in the world of scholastic journalism. So when Nusser asked for contributing writers I decided to jump on the opportunity.

So I thought, having just finished what I consider a good redesign for Vanguard, it pertinent to inform other newspaper staffs of the challenges, perks and and some general info on redesigns for my first few posts. So, here you are:

Redesign tip #1:

Know what you're getting into.

Be aware, redesigns cannot be done in a day, not good ones at least. They take time. They take more than two or or three hours. The fact is that revisions can take months.

You will, also, have to convince some staff members that your publication needs a redesign. Don't just assume that they will all see the need the same way you do. There will always be that one staffer who says, "I like our old style. I really don't think we need to change; Arial is relatable."

You must develop a thick skin, as well. If you hope to complete a really well done redesign, you will need to ask for help. Different people will see things differently, and with that comes new and, perhaps, better ideas. It does, also however, bring the critiquing of your old ideas.

And, most importantly, you must know why you want to do a redesign. If, when you ask yourself that, you answer is "So we win awards," then you aren't doing this for the right reason. A redesign must be geared toward helping readers. They are, of course, the end-all-be-all judge of whether or not we did our job correctly. You must make it so it's easier for them.

As Tim Harrower says in The Newspaper Designer's Handbook:

Today, people have changed... They collect data in a dizzying array of ways.

They don't need long, gray columns of type anymore. They won't read long, gray columns of type anymore...

Today's readers want something different. Something snappy. Something easy to grasp, instantly inviting, instantly informative.

And that's where you come in.

If you can design a newspaper that's inviting, informative and easy to read, you can-- for a few minutes each day-- successfully compete with all those TVs, radios, computers and magazines. You can keep a noble old American institution -- the newspaper -- alive for another day.

Suspended Cascade senior won't be allowed to return to school

Everett School District superintendent Carol Whitehead -- at the center of numerous student free expression controversies the last two years -- has decided not to allow David Whittemore to return to Cascade High School after he was suspended 10 days for using school computers to download files for the Free Stehekin, an underground publication.

In her decision, Whitehead said Whittemore -- who lives outside the ESD boundaries and needs a waiver to attend Cascade -- was not sufficiently remorseful and had a track record of truancy.

"He indicated no remorse for his defiant behavior, although he did state he was sorry he had been caught for his infractions," Whitehead wrote.

Whittemore said he felt he had shown remorse and had tearfully pleaded to return.

"Apparently breaking down into apologetic tears isn't a good enough sorry for a minor infraction regarding the misuse of a school computer, from which I had already been suspended for 10 days over," he said.

Oh, and the teacher who was involved is still on administrative leave as she continues to be investigated for her role.

You can read more about the background here. Whitehead also is part of the lawsuit against the ESD brought by a pair of former students which is slated to go to trial in September. Keep an eye out for that, as we'll have plenty of reporting here.