Tuesday, August 05, 2008

We've moved! Find us now at wjea.net/blog

It's been a fun run here at blogspot for this WJEA blog. Unfortunately, Blogger has outlived its usefulness, and we've now moved the blog onto our own server using the wordpress.org software. Check it out at http://wjea.net/blog.

We hope to see you there early and often, and we hope you love the changes as much as we do! And if you want to find something we've written in the past, don't worry -- all of our posts from here appear over there, too.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Everett superintendent stepping down in September

One of the main opponents of student free speech in the state of Washington, Everett School District superintendent Carol Whitehead, is retiring at the end of the summer -- four months ahead of schedule.

Whitehead's free speech legacy includes ...
  • Being sued by a pair of students at Everett High School who were unfairly censored;
  • Watching a pair of her high schools' newspapers (Everett and Cascade) head underground because of repressive administrative practices;
  • Suspending and nearly expelling a student for "working on" one of those underground papers and suspending a journalism teacher for allowing it;
  • The tacit endorsement of secret video surveillance on that teacher; and
  • The relocation of the journalism teachers at both Everett and Cascade to another school in the district.

Whitehead said she decided to up the time frame of her retirement from January to September because of a recent threat on her life.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Some thoughts on the First Amendment

I ran across a couple of stories on the First Amendment today that I thought might be of interest to you that I'm passing along.

First comes this story from the Chicago Tribune, exploring the possibility that censorship is on the rise in the wake of the firing of a respected adviser in Naperville, Ill. Quoted in the story are former SPLC director Mark Goodman and current SPLC director Frank LoMonte.

"Experts are adamant that losses like (adviser Linda Kane's) reverberate and are much more foreboding. The disagreement that led to Kane's dismissal stemmed from some controversial articles on drug use among students, and experts say her firing is part of a growing trend toward censorship in high schools, a trend that erodes citizenship, even chips away at democracy in important — if almost imperceptible — ways."

That last statement rings especially true for those of who believe student journalism is at the cornerstone of teaching democracy to future citizens — both those who work on publications and those who read them — and is supported by this recent article from the First Amendment Center.

"After 12 years of censorship and regimentation, many high school students will graduate this spring with little or no idea about what it means to be a free, active and engaged citizen in a democracy.

"When they march across the stage to get their diploma, let’s hope someone slips them a copy of the First Amendment — with instructions on how to use it.

"Far too many public school officials are afraid of freedom and avoid anything that looks like democracy. Under the heading of “safety and discipline,” administrators censor student religious and political speech, shut down student newspapers and limit student government to discussions about decorations at the prom.

"Fortunately, a growing number of brave students defy the odds and take seriously what they hear about free speech in civics class."

It reiterates a lot of points many of us have made many times over the years, but it never gets old — especially since this particular piece also ran in the Spokesman-Review. (It's the top link on the Google search — that's the only way to get to an S-R article without a subscription.)

If you're hungry for more information on the Naperville issue, I suggest starting here, then going here and here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Come hear NBC war correspondent speak

The Washington News Council is sponsoring a special presentation featuring Richard Engel, war correspondent for NBC News, on June 9 at 7 p.m. in The Seattle Times Auditorium and is inviting advisers and students to attend.

The cost is $10, and only about 60 seats remain out of the 100 originally available. Tickets can be reserved by calling 206-262-9793 -- ask for WJEA President Kathy Schrier.

The evening will be moderated by KING 5 anchorman Dennis Bounds, and is scheduled to last two hours.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Everett School District admits spying on journalism teacher

Every time it seems like the actions of the Everett School District can't get any weirder or more outrageous, Superintendent Carol Whitehead proves us wrong.

It turns out that Whitehead's district viewed Kay Powers, the former journalism teacher at Cascade High School, enough of a threat that it set up video surveillance in her classroom -- without her knowledge -- to see if she was helping students produce an underground newspaper.

For her part, Whitehead says she had no knowledge of the cameras when they were installed, but defends the district's actions as legal. The teachers union, of course, disagrees.

Legal or illegal, the words "hostile" and "unsavory" jump to mind.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

New WJEA officers announced

The results are in, and it's official: These are your new WJEA officers, who are slated to begin their two-year terms in August -- the beginning of the organization's fiscal year:
  • President: Vince DeMiero, Mountlake Terrace HS
  • Vice President: Sandra Coyer, Puyallup HS
  • Secretary: Susan Fergueson-Holihan, Mt. Si HS
  • Treasurer: Deb Kalina, Jackson HS
DeMiero takes over the top spot after a distinguished 20-year career as adviser of The Hawkeye, in which he won numerous awards, including WJEA Adviser of the Year (twice) and the NSPA "Pioneer" award (the organization's highest recognition for advisers). He's stepping down as adviser of The Hawkeye at the end of this year, but will continue teaching at MTHS and will support new adviser Mark Isakson as adviser emeritus.

Coyer (current secretary) and Fergueson-Holihan (current vice president) essentially flip roles, while Kalina takes over for Lu Flannery, who is stepping down after having been the WJEA treasurer for a very, very long time.

Current president Kathy Schrier will move into both the past president role and the newly created WJEA executive director position.

You can learn more about all of your new officers here.

Tri-City Herald picks up on NAA study

We've already talked here about the Newspaper Association of America study that suggests journalism kids do better academically than non-journalism students. The statistics are nice, but wouldn't it be really cool to put an article from an actual journalist who had determined the statistics to be valid in the hands of skeptical parents or administrators?

Now you can.

Ken Robertson at the Tri-City Herald wrote a nice editorial touting the NAA findings and encouraging parents to put their kids in journalism programs if they really want their students to succeed. Feel free to use it liberally for promotion of your program. I know I will.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Text of Plaschke's keynote available

If you attended the JEA/NSPA spring national convention about two weeks ago, you probably attended LA Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke's keynote speech on Saturday. And if you did, undoubtedly you walked away inspired and emboldened to carry out the mission of great journalism: To tell the stories of those around us.

If you didn't attend the convention, or did but somehow missed the most amazing keynote I've heard in my nine conventions, or you just want to relive the speech again, there's good news: Text of his speech is available at this link. I plan on using it in my class every year from here on out. It captures everything that we should aspire to as journalists and journalism educators.

Here's a preview to whet your whistle, or if you were there, to remind you how awesome it was:

I was a miracle. All because of my words. It was proof that words can take you place you will never imagine.

That can be you. Be that miracle. Your words can make you one. That’s why journalism is still the greatest equalizing business in the world. It doesn’t matter your color or your gender or your bank account or where you live or how you talk. If you can write, you can touch, and if you can touch, we will hire you, because that’s one thing newspapers still do better than anyone else, we can touch and be touched, the morning paper soggy from the milk and the tears.

Be the miracle.

And write the miracles.

Awesome. That's the only word I can think of.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Study confirms journalism kids do better

As journalism educators, we all believe that exposing kids to all of the trappings of journalism -- writing, design, photography, leadership, critical thinking and self management -- is good for their education. But for a long time, very little empirical evidence existed to back up what we all intuitively knew.

No longer. A new 2008 study by the Newspaper Association of America has reaffirmed the findings of a groundbreaking 1987 study that found that students with journalism experience had better grades and standardized college entrance test scores than students without journalism experience.

Just over 31,000 college students were sampled for the study, roughly 20 percent of whom had experience on their high school newspaper and/or yearbook. As in the 1987 study, the journalism students had statistically significant higher scores in the following areas:
  • High school overall grade point average
  • ACT composite score
  • ACT English score
  • College freshman English grades
  • College freshman grade point average
While skeptics might say that students involved in journalism are probably better students to begin with, the study does "show conclusively that journalism experience in high school translates into better college performance in several key areas, such as the ability to express oneself clearly and reason incisively," according the study's executive summary.

According to the study itself:

"If nothing else, we can conclude that high school newspaper or yearbook staff involvement is an excellent outlet for talented, active and involved students. It also gives them a chance to apply their natural leadership abilities while also exercising their critical thinking, designing and writing skills."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Create a motto, win a prize

Roy Peter Clark, writing guru at the Poynter Institute, is conducting a contest: Come up with a six-word motto for journalism.

But time is short. Here are the rules:
  1. The motto must be about journalism, but does not have to contain the word journalism.
  2. The motto must be exactly six words long, not five, not seven.
  3. Multiple entries from the same writer are OK.
  4. The deadline for entries is: Friday, April 25, at noon EST.
  5. Poynter is free to publish, or not, any entry.
Here's what he came up with in getting the juices flowing:
  • Last one out, turn off lights.
  • If it doesn't fit, edit it.
  • Need more Knight, but less Ridder.
  • All the news no longer fits.
  • See no evil, write no story.
  • Feed the watchdog, euthanize the lapdog.
Think you can do better? E-mail it to Clark by Friday. The winner will receive a free copy of Clark's book, "Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer." I attended a keynote of his at a national convention, and his 50 tools are simple and powerful. Give it a shot.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

WJEA members: Don't forget to vote!

If you're a WJEA member, you should have received your ballot for the 2008 WJEA officer election in the mail. There are five candidates running for four positions:
  • President: Vince DeMiero, Mountlake Terrace HS
  • Vice President: Sandra Coyer, Puyallup HS, and Jeff Nusser, Wenatchee HS
  • Secretary: Susan Holihan, Mt. Si HS
  • Treasurer: Deb Kalina, Jackson HS
Full candidate information can be found here. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by April 30; you can vote in person at the May board meeting in Kenmore on May 3.

Washington storms California, returns with plenty of hardware

It was a successful weekend for the Washington schools at the annual NSPA/JEA spring national convention in Anaheim, Calif., over the weekend, as seven different publications placed in Best of Show competitions and 94 students came back with individual awards.

The Best of Show competition was highlighted by the first place finish by The Peninsula Outlook in the newspaper of eight pages or less category, led by editor Taylor Buck, the 2008 WJEA Future Journalist of the Year, and adviser Derek Smith.

The other Best of Show placers:
  • The Sound, Gig Harbor HS - Seventh Place, Newspapers 1-8 pages
    Arianna Thornton and Catherine Van Zimmerman, editor
    Ehren Gossler, adviser
  • The Hawkeye, Mountlake Terrace HS - 10th Place, Newspapers 13-16 pages
    Ji Mun, editor
    Vince DeMiero, adviser
  • Viking Vanguard, Puyallup HS - Fourth Place, Newspapers 17+ pages
    Matt Anderson, editor
    Sandra Coyer, adviser
  • The Apple Leaf, Wenatchee HS - Fifth Place, Newspapers 17+ pages
    Claire Mueleman, editor
    Jeff Nusser, adviser
  • The Academy Times, Charles Wright Academy - Seventh Place, Newsmagazines
    Emily Rome, editor
    Steve Matson, adviser
  • WaWa, Wenatchee HS - Eighth Place, Yearbooks 275-324 pages
    Madeleine Warner, editor
    Jeff Nusser, adviser
As for individual awards, the following students earned superior ratings in their contests. Just 6 percent of all entries earned that designation:
  • Dallas Welker, Emerald Ridge HS - Newswriting
  • Megan Albert, Emerald Ridge HS - Sportswriting
  • Alex Gratzer, Kentwood HS - Review Writing
  • Maria DeMiero, Mountlake Terrace HS - Newsmagazine Layout
  • Ji Mun, Mountlake Terrace HS - Advertising
  • Kellen Ray, Wenatchee HS - Yearbook Copy/Caption: Sports
  • Elise Utterback, Franklin Pierce HS - Yearbook Copy/Caption: Sports
  • Laura Livingston, Charles Wright Academy - Yearbook Copy/Caption: Academics
  • Katie Wheeler, Deer Park HS - Yearbook Copy/Caption: Academics
  • Elsy Pawelak, Gov. John R. Rogers HS - Yearbook Layout: Theme
  • Sara Chemodurow, Gov. John R. Rogers HS - Computer Design: Infographics
  • Mike Ake, Puyallup HS - Computer Design: Photoshop Art
  • Travis King, Peninsula HS - Newspaper Sports Photography
  • Cody Gibbons, Wenatchee HS - Two Weeks' Work
  • Rebecca Perry, Emerald Ridge HS - Video Commercial/PSA
The full results of the Best of Show can be found here, while the full results of the write-offs can be found here. Congratulations to all the winners!

Monday, April 07, 2008

A challenge from the state of California

Many of you out there have received the free help of the Student Press Law Center at one time or another. WJEA supports this awesome organization with a $500 donation each year, but this year, we've been challenged to raise the bar.

California's state student journalism organization has pledged $2,000 to the SPLC, and is challenging other states, including Washington, to best that figure.

A couple of WJEA members already have pledged support, and we're asking if you'd consider doing the same. If you'd like to make a pledge -- no matter how small -- you can either e-mail WJEA president Kathy Schrier with the amount and she'll send you an invoice, or you can make a direct pledge and donation online via this link.

California is a much bigger state, but wouldn't it be awesome if we could show up to Anaheim with a big check for our important friends at the SPLC?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Workshop opportunity for editorial cartoonists

Just passing this along from the American University Discover the World of Communication Summer Program:

(At the program) students will work with professional editorial cartoonists on how to capture the essence of an issue or event in a single drawing. The course will introduce beginners to world of editorial cartooning, while giving experienced cartoonists a chance to hone their skills. Partial to full tuition scholarships will be available to the top high school editorial cartoonists.

Students wishing to be selected for a partial to full tuition scholarship should send 3 editorial cartoons or drawings, or a paragraph describing his/her interest in learning how to become an editorial cartoonist by May 1 to:

Discover the World of Communication
American University
4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20016

Attn: Sarah Menke-Fish, Assistant Professor and Director

Please include your name, age, high school and home phone number. Winners will be notified no later than May 5, 2008. Check out the website at soc.american.edu/highschool.html for additional courses.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Another successful conference in the books

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2008 WJEA State Conference at Auburn High School on Saturday. The conference was a huge success, as we had more than 350 students and nearly 40 advisers attend.

If you missed out, you can catch up on all of the award winners here. Special congratulations to our major award winners.

  • Future Journalist of the Year: Taylor Buck, Peninsula HS (Gig Harbor)
  • Lu Flannery Outstanding Journalist: Emily Rome, Charles Wright Academy (Tacoma)
  • Newspaper Best of Show: JagWire, Emerald Ridge HS (South Hill)
  • Newsmagazine Best of Show: The Commoner, Gov. John R. Rogers HS (Puyallup)
  • Yearbook Best of Show: The Thunderbolt, Todd Beamer HS (Federal Way)
  • Adviser of the Year: Kay Locey, Gov. John R. Rogers HS (Puyallup)
  • Fern Valentine Freedom of Expression Award: Jeff Nusser, Wenatchee HS
  • Special Recognition awards: Brian Schraum and Fern Valentine
  • Adviser Scholarship awards: Stephanie Keagle, Auburn Mountainview HS (Auburn), and Michelle Hornaday, Edmonds-Woodway HS (Edmonds)
Thanks again to all who participated and attended! And don't forget to mark your calendars for the adviser and student workshops at Central Washington University.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Conference just three days away; presenter lineup finalized

The 2008 WJEA state conference at Auburn High School is now just three days away, and we've finalized the presenter lineup.

If you just can't wait until Saturday to get your presenter program, you can get a sneak peak at this Google spreadsheet. I think it's a tremendous lineup that is going to give all students a wide variety of learning opportunities. This is in addition to the contests in the morning and the keynote by the Seattle P-I's Monica Guzman. Exciting stuff!

Hopefully we'll see you all there.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WJEA state conference deadline just a few days away!

Don't miss out on what is shaping to be one of the very best WJEA state conferences yet.

The event is on March 15 at Auburn High School, and is going to feature write-off competitions, a keynote from Seattle Post-Intelligencer blogger Monica Guzman, presentations by advisers and industry professionals that will give you knowledge you can take with you to make your publication immediately better, and an awards ceremony that will celebrate the accomplishments of student journalists around the state.

Still not convinced? Check out some of the presenters we've got lined up for the day:
  • Chris Pirello, podcaster extraordinaire from the University of Washington
  • Mike Sando, football writer for ESPN.com
  • Brian Schraum, instigator of the student press legislation in Washington and recent graduate of Washington State University
  • Kathy Schrier, WJEA president
  • Julie Simon, Graphics and Design Editor for the Seattle P-I
  • David Montesino, Assistant Managing Editor for Visuals at The News Tribune
  • Judith Endejan, lawyer for Graham and Dunn speaking on reporter privilege
  • Patrick O'Callahan, chief editorial writer for The News Tribune
  • Mike McLaughlin, desk editor at the Seattle P-I
  • Dan Hardebeck, 2007 WJEA adviser of the year from Timberline HS
  • Scott Bush, freelance designer
  • Students such as Matt Anderson, editor-in-chief of the Puyallup HS Viking Vanguard, and the editorial board of JagWire newsmagazine at Emerald Ridge HS.
  • And me! (Jeff Nusser, adviser at Wenatchee HS)
And trust me when I tell you more are on the way. What are you waiting for? Download your registration materials here. Or, if you like, you can do it all online now! Check it out at wjea.net.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

WJEA state conference now less than four weeks away

The 2008 WJEA state conference featuring keynote speaker Monica Guzman of the Seattle P-I is now less than four weeks away. You can download registration materials here for a great day of competing and learning on March 15 at Auburn High School.

Find more information at wjea.net.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Indiana in the spotlight again - and not the good kind of spotlight

Some of you might remember the plight of Amy Sorrell and her staff at Woodlan Junior-Senior High School in Indiana last year. Well, another case of censorship has reared its head in that state about 150 miles away in Franklin.

The staff of the Franklin Community High School student newspaper The Electron -- an uncensored open public forum for 25 years -- wrote a series of articles in a two-page spread on safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases. The principal, Craig McCaffrey, disagreed with the way the articles were written and felt there should have been more of an emphasis on abstinence. Now he wants prior review.

You can read all the details over at J-Ideas, which has reprinted an article from the local newspaper on its Web site. (Update: Here is the story from today's Indianapolis Star.) Essentially, the principal would like the ability to censor the publication because he disagreed with the content, something that is not protected even under the Hazelwood decision.

How can you make your voice heard?

If you would like to reach McCaffrey to voice your concerns about his unfounded censorship, you can reach him via e-mail here. If you would like to send a note of support to the adviser of The Electron or her staff, you can reach Carmen Mann-Lynch here. If you would like to contact the Franklin Community School Corporation's school board, you can find all five members' e-mail addresses here.

Reminder: Deadlines loom

Don't forget, there are some deadlines coming up for journalism-related recognitions.

First, the deadline to apply for WJEA scholarships is Friday. Most of the awards require some amount of preparation, so if a student is planning on applying for one, they need to get on it.

Second, the deadline for NSPA Honor Roll applications is Friday as well. Any student who has been on the staff of an NSPA member publication for at least a year and has a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or greater is eligible. Seniors who apply and submit some additional information are eligible for $1,000 scholarships.

Friday, February 08, 2008

More words of encouragement

Although he elected not to hold a committee hearing on Senate Bill 6449, Sen. Adam Kline said that he still firmly believes in the mission of the bill and believes it has value (via J-Ideas):

"Freedom breeds responsibility," Kline said. "Yes, (passing the bill) is a much needed improvement--a statement of trust."

Kline also said there is nothing in the bill that he would change, and he will persist at supporting the bill, explaining, "we adults are not good at letting go."

Sen. Joe McDermott, the bill's primary sponsor, also elaborated on his planned reintroduction of the bill in 2009.

"I do believe that awareness of student press rights is important and putting this bill forward opens the communication line to create a bill that can gain agreement," McDermott said. "In the short term, I believe some people are concerned that, on rare occasion, instruction will be interrupted when student journalists touch a nerve in their community -- something I know as a legislator the press can do at times."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

WJEA scholarship deadlines creeping up!

The Washington Journalism Education Association offers a number of scholarships to student journalists and advisers in our state, but deadlines are looming -- applications are due Feb. 15.

Winners for the following awards will be announced at the WJEA State Conference, to be held March 15 at Auburn High School:

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Take heart, Washington

Even with the news that Senate Bill 6449 has met a premature death, encouragement is pouring in for those of us who fought on its behalf.

First, this from Rep. Dave Upthegrove, who sponsored the original incarnation of the bill (House Bill 1307) last legislative session, via J-Ideas:

“We always knew it was a long-shot this year, but we felt it was important to introduce the bill in the Senate to begin the discussion in that chamber and to keep a spotlight on the issue,” Upthegrove said. “The Legislature will re-organize after the November election, and there may be new Senators and new committee assignments. We absolutely will reintroduce the bill next year.”

And then this, from Mark Goodman -- former executive director of the Student Press Law Center:

For what its worth, it was your efforts there in Washington that brought this effort back to life around the country after over a decade of dormancy. Legislators and others are talking about student press freedom as an issue of educational policy because of you folks. From the perspective of all of us watching from afar, we owe you a lot. Thanks for your hard work. Like Brian (Schraum), I believe success will come.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Student Free Press Bill dead for 2008

Sen. Adam Kline, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has declined to give Senate Bill 6449 a hearing, effectively rendering the legislation dead for the second consecutive year.

What happened? It's unlikely the bill was going to gain the necessary votes to make it out of committee in its present form -- with high schools included -- and in this short, 60-day session, bills that aren't on the fast track often get cast to the wayside.

However, as a famous man once said, this is not the end. It's not even the beginning of the end. We will all work hard to get legislation introduced next year, and the committees -- which hold so much power in the process -- likely will get shifted somewhat in 2009. Additionally, the opportunity still exists to educate your legislators in the meantime.

Here are the thoughts of Brian Schraum, the former Enumclaw High School and Washington State University student journalist who was the inspiration behind the initial bill and has worked tirelessly on its behalf the past two years:

Dear friends,

Writing this for the second time sure doesn’t make it any easier.

Today we learned that SB 6449, the latest incarnation of Washington’s student press freedom legislation, will not be scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I know this is disappointing. I’m disappointed too – especially that the passionate students, educators and journalists who support this bill didn’t have the opportunity to speak in Olympia again. We student press advocates are a feisty bunch. And we’re not done yet.

We’ve asked a lot of you over these last two years. We asked you to get involved. We asked you to spread the word. We asked to you to believe – to believe in the importance of this legislation and that passing it was possible.

It IS possible.

And it will happen – that much I’m convinced of. We passed this legislation in the House, and I honestly believe we came within just a few committee votes in the Senate. Next year the tune starts playing in Committee Musical Chairs, and things change. And the opportunity to educate our elected officials in this session continues.

We’ll have plenty of time to dissect this effort, to look at what went wrong and what didn’t. I’d urge you not to point the finger of blame at anyone just yet. For now, I think it’s safe to say this outcome was more political than philosophical.

So instead of growing cynical about a process that hasn’t yet been successful, I’d ask you to use that energy to thank a few folks. Thank the 18 member organizations of our state- and nation-wide coalition of folks who believe so strongly in student voices and real journalism. Thank Sen. Joe McDermott, Rep. Dave Upthegrove, Bryce McKibben of the Washington Student Lobby, Kathy Schrier of the Washington Journalism Education Association, and so many others for their invaluable contribution to this effort.

And thank the Association of Washington School Principals, which took the time (when others wouldn’t) to hear us out and realize we do more for students when we understand each other. That dialogue is the beginning of something big.

I’ll ask one thing more: don’t give up. Your efforts will matter throughout this year and into the next more than they ever have before. I’m with you. I may literally be packing up the U-HAUL and moving on down the road in life – but I’m with you on this, now and always.

Great things don’t come easy or by chance, but from the hard work of a dedicated few.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Spokesman-Review supports SB 6449

For the second time in as many years, the Spokesman-Review in Spokane has editorialized in favor of student free press legislation.

In today's editorial, the S-R endorsed Senate Bill 6449 as sound educational practice. An excerpt:

We encourage thinking from birth. Thinking -- including the comparison and evaluation of competing ideas -- is a desirable trait at any age, and we want our schools to cultivate it.

One of many logical ways for that to happen is to establish and empower student newspapers in high schools, colleges and universities. Give students a real-life experience in First Amendment freedom. ...

The proposal strikes a fair balance. Still, if it becomes law, it would be remarkable if student publications didn't sometimes cause ulcers and anxiety. It would be disappointing if they didn't.

In time, inexperienced teens develop into skilled drivers, but not without ample time behind the wheel. The same approach will help children grow into citizens.

The link is here, although you'll need a paid registration to read the article.

In the past year, most of the dailies in the state have come out in favor of the proposed legislation. Publications who have publicly supported the bill include the USA Today, the Seattle P-I, The News Tribune, and The Everett Herald. The only major daily in the state to oppose the bill has been The Seattle Times, although WJEA members refuted the Times' claims in these letters to the editor.


Did your student newspaper undergo a redesign this year?

If so, I am presenting a session on redesigns at state and would appreciate it if you could send me some before and after PDFs. Please send them to thevikingvanguard@gmail.com.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Senate Bill 6449 needs YOUR help!

We've been writing a lot here about the latest incarnation of the Student Free Expression Bill, Senate Bill 6449. We are confident that if it can pass its most difficult challenges in the Senate, then it will pass the House of Representatives and, pending governor approval, will be passed into law.

However, it does have some significant hurdles to get over, and that is where YOU come in.

According to Bryce McKibben, president of the Washington Student Lobby, a strong grass roots effort contacting individual senators would make a huge difference right now. Here is part of what he said in an e-mail yesterday:

We are in need of a sustained, grassroots advocacy campaign. ... What we need is for Senators Rodney Tom (in particular, pictured above), James Hargove, and Bob McCaslin to hear from teachers, parents, and student journalists -- student editors in particular -- about the bill. We need to counter the pervasive argument that there is only opposition out there. Our organization does NOT have the resources available to mobilize this important community, so we need your help there. A lot of help.

The reason those senators are so important right now is because they are considered swing votes in the Judiciary Committee. In order for the bill to have a shot at being passed, it must first make it through that committee with five of the eight committee members voting for it.

How can you help? Here are some strategies:
  • Write a hand-written letter addressed to the senators above. You can find their addresses by clicking on their names above. (This tends to be the most effective method.)
  • Send an e-mail to any of the senators above. You can do that via a form on each senator's site.
  • Call the legislative hotline at 800-562-6000.
This bill clarifies the law with regard to rights and responsibilities of student journalists, their advisers, and school administrators. If it passes, Washington would follow in the steps of seven other states that have passed similar legislation. The current bill is nearly identical to HB 1307 that was introduced first in the House last session, where it passed, only to die in the Senate. This year, the bill was introduced in the Senate first, by Sen. Joe McDermott (34th Dist).

For a full story on the bill and further background, go to www.jideas.org.

WJEA president Kathy Schrier contributed to this report.

Designers need a good laugh, too

If you're an adviser or student designer and you've ever found yourself wanting to scream at some of the design no-nos of your novice paginators, this site is for you.

I'm pretty sure it's serious.

Hat tip to Mark Murray for passing this along via tha JEA Listserv.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Summer workshop opportunity at Seattle U.

Seattle University is once again offering its all-expenses paid summer workshop, only it is now for the first time accepting applications from all student journalists. It had been limited to minorities in the past.

The workshop is from June 20-27; applications are due April 7. For more information, visit the workshop Web site. Applications can be downloaded there.

Update on free expression bill

The folks over at J-Ideas -- housed at Ball State University in Indiana -- have updated their Senate Bill 6449 story, and it includes quite a few relevant quotes from interested parties.

Most interesting is this quote from the Association of Washington School Principals, which vigorously opposed House Bill 1307 last year:

For this year's bill, Communications Spokesperson Jocelyn McCabe said the organization's members are talking with each other to disuss their thoughts on the bill, which generated "lots of debate" last year.

"We have been working with the WJEA since the end of session last year and have made good progress on this issue," McCabe said. "The legislation has prompted some good discussions between students, advisers and administrators about roles and responsibilities, and we’ve appreciated the opportunity to share the principal’s perspective on student press issues."

Friday, January 18, 2008

P-I's Monica Guzman agrees to keynote WJEA state conference

We at WJEA hope you're getting geared up to attend the annual WJEA State Journalism Conference -- now less than two months away on Saturday, March 15, at Auburn High School -- because we sure are. Today, we secured the conference's keynote speaker: Monica Guzman, online reporter extraordinaire from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Guzman is most well known for her prolific contributions to the P-I's Big Blog, "a rolling digest of the best in news, culture and entertainment." She's a self-described "product of her wired generation" -- that's her Facebook profile picture to the right -- and is fired up about getting to speak to the next generation of journalists. From her bio:

Monica Guzman is the P-I's first online reporter and the main contributor to its new online project, the Big Blog.

Monica joined the P-I in January as a Hearst Newspapers Fellow, covering the culture of technology in a weekly column and a blog, Net Native.

A product of her wired generation, Monica obsesses over her Facebook profile and can't remember what life was like before e-mail. She calls it a good afternoon when she can tinker with her piano and her Ibanez and a good evening when she can get out and enjoy the nightlife. A huge film fan, Monica will often cry at movies people have no business crying in and has been known to get moody if she doesn't see at least one movie in a theater every week. She can't cook, but she's trying.

Monica has worked previously at the Houston Chronicle, the Midland Daily News in Michigan and Foster's Daily Democrat in New Hampshire, covering police and breaking news, higher education and arts and entertainment.

You can watch her on KOMO/4 News at 4:20 p.m. and listen in to KOMO 1000 radio at 4:45 p.m. on Wednesdays, when she rounds up the news that's got Seattle talking.

Monica holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

Registration forms will be available on wjea.net soon, so be looking for those. In the meantime, we'll be working hard to line up all the session speakers for the conference. We'll pass those along as we get confirmations.

Free expression bill referred back to judiciary

All the speculation was for naught, as the Senate K-12 committee referred Senate Bill 6449 -- the Student Free Expression Bill -- back to the Senate Judiciary Committee without comment this morning.

Three of the sponsors of the bill -- primary sponsor Joe McDermott (D-Seattle), and secondary sponsors Adam Kline (D-Seattle) and Brian Weinstein (D-Mercer Island) -- are on the judiciary committee. Kline is the committee chair.

The members of that K-12 committee are as follows. Clicking on each senator's name will take you to a page where you can contact that senator. You can also look up your own district's senator by clicking here.

Senate Judiciary Committee

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Washington Post commentary takes Hazelwood to task

Given the spirit of the season with Senate Bill 6449, I thought I'd pass along this great piece that ran in the Washington Post a week ago. If only everyone in the professional media felt this way.

Writes Richard Just, deputy editor of the New Republic:

My own experiences have convinced me that today, the vast majority of students are unable to practice true journalism at their high school papers. For the past six summers, I have directed a program for about 20 high school journalists at Princeton University. All the students are talented writers and thoughtful intellectuals. Yet, by and large, they work for newspapers that are either explicitly censored or restrained by the looming threat of official disapproval -- newspapers that read more like school-sponsored news releases than true journalism. Many have been taught to write fluffy profiles of teachers and to celebrate the achievements of their sports teams; fewer have been encouraged to challenge, to criticize or to investigate. Perhaps the most important part of our program's curriculum is to help students unlearn the instincts they have acquired at their high school newspapers.

And then, the kicker -- an argument many of us have been making for years.

No high school principal would dream of telling the basketball team that it could run drills but not play games, or permit the drama club to rehearse but never to stage shows. Yet, thanks in part to Hazelwood, many high schools train their students in journalism without allowing them to truly practice it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bill assigned to K-12 committee; two more senators sign on

In what was an unexpected twist today, the Student Free Expression Bill -- SB6449 -- was assigned to the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. It had been expected that the bill would be referred to the judiciary committee as it was last year.

The good news is that primary sponsor of the bill, Sen. Joe McDermott (D-Seattle), is on that committee, as is secondary sponsor Sen. Brian Weinstein (D-Mercer Island). Perhaps even better news is that the chair of that committee, Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe (D-Seattle, pictured right), has been added today as a secondary sponsor, as has Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Kent).

High schools were stripped from the bill in the senate judiciary committee last year, so perhaps a change of venue bodes well for the bill being sent to the floor.

The members of that K-12 committee are as follows. Clicking on each senator's name will take you to a page where you can contact that senator. You can also look up your district's senator by clicking here.

Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Coalition, Sen. McDermott announce new student press rights legislation

The arrival of the 2008 legislative session means the return of legislation aimed at affirming and protecting student free expression, as the Coalition for Responsible Student Expression and Sen. Joe McDermott (D - Seattle, pictured right) announced the introduction of Senate Bill 6449.

The bill is nearly identical to the one that was passed by the House of Representatives last year, HB 1307, before high schools were stripped from the bill in committee in the Senate.

“Gaining experience in real life journalism is an important part of the learning process,” McDermott said. “This puts students that much closer to success in their professional careers.”

Supporting the bill is the
Coalition for Responsible Student Expression, made up of 16 organizations, including WJEA, and the sponsor of HB 1307, Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D - Des Moines).

“I worry about a generation growing up without an appreciation of their constitutional rights and how to exercise those rights and responsibilities,” Upthegrove said. “One of the best ways to develop an appreciation of constitutional rights is to model and apply those constitutional freedoms in the school environment. This is why I introduced legislation last year, and why I will be supporting Sen. McDermott’s bill this year.”

Also sponsoring the bill are senators Adam Kline and Brian Weinstein -- both vocal supporters of the bill last year as members of the judiciary committee -- and senators Ed Murray and Jean Kohl-Welles.

Related links:

Mission statement of Coalition for Responsible Student Expression

Here is the full text of the mission statement of the Coalition for Responsible Student Expression. The coalition is supporting the passage of Senate Bill 6449, the senate incarnation of a student free expression bill:

"The Washington Coalition for Responsible Student Expression believes that student journalists should strive for accuracy, fairness and balance in order to achieve and maintain credibility and to bring to the public, as Walter Lippmann said, “a view of reality upon which the citizen can act.”

"Student journalists also must be responsible to the laws that govern the press – such as libel, invasion of privacy, copyright infringement and obscenity – and should strive to maintain the highest standards of journalistic ethics. Also, their work must not materially and substantially disrupt the school day.

"At the same time, student journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know, and they should be accountable to their readers, listeners, or viewers.

"A free student press reflects the intellectual health of a vibrant, dynamic school. It helps create a respect for diversity, provides a voice for students, and establishes a link between students and school officials.

"This coalition of concerned organizations and individuals support the First Amendment rights of student journalists and a strong, robust student press, not only in Washington state but across the nation."

Members of the coalition:
  • Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington
  • American Civil Liberties Union of Washington
  • Association for Women in Communications – Seattle Professional Chapter
  • Dow Jones Newspaper Fund
  • J-Ideas
  • Journalism Education Association
  • Kent State University Center for Scholastic Journalism
  • Poynter Institute for Media Studies
  • Society of Professional Journalists – Western Washington Professional Chapter
  • Student Press Law Center
  • University of Washington – Department of Communication
  • Washington Community College Journalism Association
  • Washington Journalism Education Association
  • Washington News Council
  • Washington Newspaper Publishers Association
  • Washington Student Lobby