Working with Administrators Jeanne Acton, ILPC director
Build a relationship • Meet with them during the summer • Set up meetings with your staff • Be honest and direct • Know the expectations (yours and theirs) • Cook for them … cupcakes can move mountains • Talk about your ethics and your goals • Explain what open forum really means
Be your own PR • Every time your kids win something, make it a point to let the principal know • Share with the administrators how your class connects to the ALMIGHTY TAKS test • Offer your help with the school newsletter • Invite the principal to your story assignment day in class
Know yourself & school community • Where do you stand on prior review? • Where do you stand on censorship? • Is the community conservative? • Is there a history of bad journalism? • Do you need to mend fences? • What are the hot buttons of the community?
Play politics • Get to know your school board, superintendent, etc. • Get your parents on board with the staff goals • Know your local media
Publications that highlight achievements of the school helps the principal … • By showcasing different aspects of the school — athletic honors, scholastic achievement, community service • By giving a face to your school through stories about your students • By giving you a voice and press when the city media ignores everything about your school except TAKS scores and possible violent incidents
Why should a principal support a quality journalism program? Quality journalism programs creates critical thinkers, writers - which in turn will create good test takers, which means good test scores. “Journalism students tend to score higher on the language arts portion of the ACT test, earn higher grades and succeed in college composition courses at higher levels than non-journalism students.” - In Journalism Kids Do Better, John Dvorak, Larry Lain and Tom Dickson
Advantages of publications produced by well-trained responsible journalists • Provides opportunities for students to apply reading, writing and thinking skills • Prepares students for rigorous research, analysis and writing expected by colleges • Provides a link with the administration • Creates a forum for an exchange of student opinion • Provides valuable training for student staff members • - American Society of Newspaper Editors
Prior review and censorship • If the principal builds a positive, trusting relationship with the journalism adviser and editor, he/she will not need to have prior review. • Principals should encourage open-dialogue with advisers/students.
Prior review and censorship “To develop a real democracy, students must have a chance to practice what they learn in American history, in English, in business and in sociology. They must experience, as Supreme Court Justice William Brennan wrote in the 1988 U.S. Supreme Court Hazelwood decision, the Constitution of the United States as more than just parchment under glass.” -John Bowen, chair of the Journalism Education Association Scholastic Press Rights Commission
Prior review and censorship “It is impossible and unwise to ‘protect’ students from knowledge of society’s problems. A public form reduces rumor, speculation and misinformation; it offers solid information, sources of aid and a basis for wise action; provides students an outlet for comment, opinion and debate; and introduces student thought to the rest of community and allows for community response.” -John Bowen, chair of the Journalism Education Association Scholastic Press Rights Commission
Why do students need to write about … • School policies — allowing both sides to speak • Sex, drugs and rock’n roll • You • Negatives issues – for example students not passing the TAKS, incidents on campuses (fights, etc.)
Because … • Journalism is about truth … the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s about giving a voice to your students. Both the fanatics and the wall flowers. • In journalism, students should learn to publish a well-written, well-researched, balanced publication that is not libelous, obscene or disruptive to the school. • The newspaper should report the news of the school and offer a public forum for ideas.
Because … • We don’t tell the football players not to play, why should we tell the journalism students not to write. • We don’t tell the football coaches what plays to run, why should we tell journalism advisers what stories to run. • The students need to write about things that their audience cares about, things that are affecting them, things about their world.
More importantly, though … The publications should be a window into the lives of our students. It should tell their stories.
Even the most balanced, responsible, fair publications will get phone calls asking … How could you let this run? And if the principal has open dialogue with the journalism staffs, he/she will already know that answer. Stories should have a reason/purpose, and the writers must be able to articulate that reason/purpose.
How could you let this run? • Because you believe in freedom of the press • Because your students needed to know about this particular issue • Because the publication is for the students, not for the parents or administration • Because it is a balanced, responsible story • Because it is the truth
Sometimes, though, there will be errors, little errors. A name may get misspelled. A person may be misquoted. A person may be misidentified in a story. It happens. It even happens in the New York Times. Just remember, during the school play, sometimes a kid forgets a line. Sometimes the quarterback throws an interception or runs the wrong play. Sometimes the teacher loses a paper. Sometimes the principal calls a student the wrong name. We make mistakes. We correct them. And we learn.