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Making Ethical Choices

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Presentation on theme: "Making Ethical Choices"— Presentation transcript:

1 Making Ethical Choices

2 Learning Objectives Discuss the three major Supreme Court cases affecting free speech in school Explain the important points contained in a professional code of ethics for journalists List some of the policies and procedures students can use within their schools to help protect their right to a free press

3 Legal and Ethical Boundaries of Student Journalism
Ethics—the branch of philosophy that deals with right and wrong Just like everybody else, journalists are faced with ethical questions every day. Should a reporter promise a source confidentiality (a promise of secrecy for restricted information)? Should a photographer stage a picture?

4 Questions What ethical dilemmas have you faced?
How did you decide what to do? What codes of behavior do we follow and where do these codes come from?

5 Avoiding Censorship Ethics does not come with a list of how-to’s. It is up to you to decide for yourself how to act. You have to evaluate each situation, search your conscience and decide how you will act. Ethical conduct is you best defense against censorship. Censorship occurs when officials prevent the printing or broadcasting of material that they consider objectionable. Follow your sense of fair play, guidelines shaped by legal decisions, professional codes and practices est. by other student journalists

6 First Amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

7 First Amendment cont. Freedom of the press includes newspapers, magazines, periodicals and pamphlets, radio television and motion pictures.

8 First Amendment cont. Although the First Amendment gives you a great opportunity to speak and write, it does not protect everything. Some kinds of material, such as obscenity, are still off limits. The Supreme Court also has determined that schools have special powers in some cases to restrict what students can say or write.

9 1st Amendment Project Assignment:
Students should make a creative way to represent one (or all!) of the freedoms. They may make a poster; write a rap song, etc. Just about anything goes. It should take no longer than 1 to 3 minutes for them to present their project or explain it.

10 A Lesson on Libel Despite the “guaranteed freedoms” of the First Amendment, there are a few categories of speech that are not protected. -Obscenity-material that offends local community standards and lacks any serious artistic purpose -Fighting words-usually racial, ethnic, gender or religious insults -Invasion of privacy-protects private information (ex. medical or academic records)

11 A Lesson on Libel cont. -Copyright violations-copyright gives a person exclusive rights to something he or she has written or otherwise created (ex. Plagiarism) -Libel-when false information that damages someone’s reputations printed or broadcast. -Libel is considered much more serious than slander (a spoken falsehood), because it is more permanent and can have long-lasting effects.

12 A Lesson on Libel cont. According to the Student Press Law Center, libel is “any printed communication—words or pictures—which tends to expose one to public hatred, shame, contempt or disgrace or damage one’s reputation in the community or injure the person.”

13 A Lesson on Libel cont. The Student Press Law Center recommend that students be careful when taking on sensitive material and abide by the following suggestions: -Check and recheck all facts. Seek two or more sources that are independent of one another, credible and in a position to know and tell the truth.

14 A Lesson on Libel cont. -Fairness dictates that reporters contact the individual that they are writing about. Reporters then obtain both sides of the story and avoid printing incomplete or incorrect information. -Exercise good judgment. Consider the possible implications of printing or televising a particular story.

15 A Lesson on Libel cont. The burden of proof in a libel case is on the person bringing the suit. The plaintiff must prove five things in order to win. 1) publication 2) identification (must prove the content referred to them) 3) defamation (damage was done to their reputation) 4) falsity 5) some element of fault (the reporter or publication acted with negligence or reckless disregard for the truth)

16 Research Activity Search libel on the internet
Find a specific filed libel court case and research it Write a summary (3 paragraphs) of the court case (answering: Who was involved? What was printed? What was the argument? What was the outcome?, 5 W’s and H and etc.) MLA format with Works Cited page (2 sources) Submit to Present your findings to the class

17 Court Decisions and the Rights of High School Journalists
Tinker v. Des Moines -In the winter of 1965, a group of students in Des Moines, Iowa, wore black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. -To prevent disruptions in school, the Des Moines principals adopted a policy that prohibited students from wearing armbands.

18 Court Decisions and the Rights of High School Journalists cont.
Tinker v. Des Moines -Despite the policy, three students—13-year-old Mary Beth Tinker, 15-year-old John Tinker, and 16-year-old Christopher Eckhardt—wore armbands to school and were suspended. They didn’t return to school until their planned period for wearing the armbands had expired in January.

19 Court Decisions and the Rights of High School Journalists cont.
Tinker v. Des Moines -To dramatize the unfairness of their suspensions, the three students sued the school district, stating that their First Amendment rights had been violated. -Although school officials maintained that the armbands were “substantially disruptive” to other students’ studies, the Supreme Court eventually ruled 7-2 in the students’ favor.

20 Court Decisions and the Rights of High School Journalists cont.
Tinker v. Des Moines -With the decision in Tinker v. Des Moines, students became confident that their rights, just as those of other Americans, would be protected both on and off school grounds. -More important to student journalists, the ruling established students’ constitutional rights to voice their ideas and opinions, even those that might be viewed as unpopular or controversial. -Students and advisers believed that because of the ruling, only articles that were libelous, obscene or disruptive to the operation of the school could be censored.

21 Court Decisions and the Rights of High School Journalists cont.
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier -In May 1983, students in the Journalism II class at Hazelwood East High School in suburban St. Louis were shocked when their school paper, The Spectrum, came back from the printer with the middle two pages missing. -The students learned that a substitute teacher had shown page proofs of the paper to principal Robert Reynolds for approval.

22 Court Decisions and the Rights of High School Journalists cont.
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier -The principal’s approval was necessary because the school had a prior review policy. -Prior review occurs when a principal or other official reviews a proof of the paper before it goes to press. -The principal objected two articles. One that had to do with the impact of divorce on students and the other discussed three students’ experiences with pregnancy.

23 Court Decisions and the Rights of High School Journalists cont.
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier -Reynolds said he believed that pregnancy was not an appropriate topic for a high school newspaper, and that the three girls in the article would have been recognized even though they were anonymous. -He said that the article that dealt with divorce (in which the student criticized her father for not spending more time with his family) violated journalistic fairness because the father did not get a chance to defend himself.

24 Court Decisions and the Rights of High School Journalists cont.
Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier -As a result of Reynold’s decision, student editor Cathy Kuhlmeier and members of her newspaper staff concluded that their First Amendment rights had been violated, and they sued the administration. -Five years later the Supreme Court ruled against the students. By a 5-3 vote they decided the newspaper was not a “forum for public expression,” and it could be censored. -It was not considered a forum because it was produced as part of the school’s curriculum.

25 Court Decisions and the Rights of High School Journalists cont.
Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier -The Court agreed that administrators have a right to censor students publication if they can “present a reasonable educational justification” for the censorship. -The Court added they also have the right to censor stories that were “ungrammatical, poorly written, inadequately researched, biased or prejudiced, vulgar or profane, or unsuitable for immature audiences.”

26 Court Decisions and the Rights of High School Journalists cont.
Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier -With this ruling, it became apparent that school administrators could tighten the control they have over what students can and can not publish. -The decision had an effect on the willingness of student journalists to write about serious issues and the problems that teens face today.

27 Court Decisions and the Rights of High School Journalists cont.
Bethel School District v. Fraser -In April 1983 about 600 students watched as 17-year-old Matthew Fraser delivered a speech nominating another student for student body president of his high school near Tacoma, Washington. -Although attendance was voluntary at the assembly, he had been advised by teachers not to deliver it because of its lewd content.

28 Court Decisions and the Rights of High School Journalists cont.
Bethel v. Fraser -Throughout his speech, he referred to the candidate in an elaborate sexual metaphor that included such phrases as “I know a man who is firm—he’s firm in his shirt, his character is firm” and “Jeff is a man who will go to the very end—even the climax—for each and every one of you.” -Fraser was suspended for two days for violating the school’s “disruptive contact rule” and his name was taken off a list of candidates for graduation speaker.

29 Court Decisions and the Rights of High School Journalists cont.
Bethel v. Fraser -Fraser felt that his rights had been violated and took his case to court. -When a lower court ruled in Fraser’s favor, school officials appealed to the United States Supreme Court who ruled in favor of the school stating that “schools, as instruments of the state, may determine that the essential lessons of civil, mature conduct cannot be conveyed in a school that tolerates lewd, indecent, or offensive speech.” -The ruling indicated that the constitutional rights of students are not the same as those as adults and that the school board had the authority to decide what was offensive speech.

30 Question What is the difference between censorship and editing?
Journalists edit to communicate better and to state information more clearly. Some people censor to change the message itself, to delete the information or to prevent the publication of diverse ideas and opinions.

31 Sources Schaffer, James, Randall McCutcheon and Kathryn T. Stofer. Journalism Matters. Lincolnwood: Contemporary, 2001.

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