Pages Navigation Menu



Reporting censorship checklists

Resources for journalism educators and students to use when reporting censorship incidents.
Censorship checklist for advisers
Censorship checklist for students

Teaching resources for press rights and ethics

Summaries and resources for journalism educators and empowered journalism leaders. These resources are good starting points for those who need materials to supplement their programs.


Web sites about the use of anonymous sources

  1. (This article from the American Journalism Review discusses the controversy surrounding the O.J. Simpson case. It presents individual viewpoints on the pros and cons of using anonymous sources.
  2. (Links to several sources related to the usage of anonymous sources, including a survey which showed that several professional publications never allow them, are part of this article.)
  3. (Clark Hoyt, the public editor for the New York Times discusses how difficult it is to follow the paper’s anonymous quote policy.)
  4. (The Associated Press presents three guidelines as to when anonymous quotes would be acceptable. The AP says reporters should always proceed with the assumption that all quotes will be on the record.)
  5. (Three reasons why the Associated Press allows anonymous sources in this article might be guidelines for student publications. The site also defines “on the record, “off the record,” “background” and “deep background.”

Web sites about prior review and prior restraint

  1. (The National Coalition Against Censorship created this blog about prior review. It has a link to another article entitled “Prior Review—A Student Press Nightmare.”
  2. (This site takes you to JEA’s home page and provides links to JEA Policies, including ones on prior review, the advisers code of ethics and a position statement on photo manipulation.)
  3. (The Free Dictionary defines prior restraint and presents a history of its usage since the NEAR V. MINNESOTA)

Web sites about libel

  1. (Aaron Larson from ExpertLaw defines defamation, libel and slander. He also goes into the defenses available for anyone accused of defamation, and he defines public figures.)
  2. (This source raises questions to help determine if someone has been libeled. It also includes possible defenses against claims of defamation.)
  3. (The basics of libel and libel law are clear in this article. In addition, it clarifies the differences between public officials and private individuals, and it discusses the Times vs. Sullivan U.S. Supreme Court case.)
  4. (The article on this site discusses copyright and libel questions as they relate to Twitter. The author discusses two cases and concludes that “we’re in for a long series of lawsuits and legal threats to do with Twitter messages.)
  5. (The Noonan v. Staples case in a federal appeals court in Boston ruled that truth is not always an absolute defense against libel. A true statement said with malice can still be libelous. Media Law discusses this case in a blog about freedom of the press.)

Web sites about photo manipulation

  1. Photo tampering has occurred throughout history. This site shows tampering of photos from 1860-2009.)
  2. (Faked photos are becoming harder to detect, according to this site, which includes the National Press Photographer’s Code of Ethics Statement of Principle. There’s also a link to an article by Bonnie Meltzer, entitled “Digital Photography: A Question of Ethics.)
  3. (This site includes “famous” examples of digitally manipulated photos. It also has links to other articles about this topic.)
  4. (Erik Johansson shows on this site how one can create surprising images by combining art with digital photos.)
  5. (This essay discusses the question “Is Photo Manipulation Bad for Photography?” He concludes by saying when someone asks if a photo is real, the answer should be “yes.”)
  7. (Ken Irby from the Poynter Institute discusses the manipulation policy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in this article. The article also provides links to other policies, including ones by the Washington Post, the New York Times, the St. Petersburg Times, and the Kansas City Star.)


Web sites about Invasion of privacy


The First Amendment Handbook, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

This resource explains the five different kinds of  Invasion of Privacy as they relate to the practice of journalism: Intrusion, publication of private facts, false light, and misappropriation.

Libel & Privacy Invasion

This resource is thorough and specific to issues concerning the student press. Topics include:

1.  A Dozen Tips to Avoid Being Burned by a Hot Story

2.  SPLC Legal Brief on Invasion of Privacy Law

3.  Saying ‘Yes’ – What the law says about minors ability to consent without parent permission

4.  Special Delivery – A legal guide to handling and publishing material that has (possibly) been illegally obtained and provided by third parties

5.  Surveying the Law – A legal and practical guide for student media wanting to conduct and publish news and opinion surveys on campus




Web sites about invasion of privacy

  1. (In this photographer’s guide to privacy article, the author suggests nine points to consider to help avoid invasion of privacy lawsuits.)
  2. (By reading this article, readers will be able to distinguish the difference between journalism that creates liability for invasion of privacy and journalism that is protected by state law and the First Amendment.)




10  Big Myths About Copyright

This essay clarifies 10 copyright myths facing anyone in publications. It assumes you know at least what copyright is— basically the legal exclusive right of the author of a creative work to control the copying of that work.

The site asks the question, provides the true/false answer and then offers a clear explanation of the reasoning behind the decision. It could be particularly useful as you begin a discussion of copyright.


The definitive document on copyright as it relates to student media, the Student Media Guide to Copyright Law provides basic copyright information written in simple terms. Parody, fair use, trademark, patent laws and plagiarism are also discussed. The SPLC Copyright Duration Calendar allows students to determine if materials are still under copyright protection.


This site provides specific information about copyright as it relates to music and audio. It offers several resources student may use to acquire public domain music.

Accuracy and fact checking


The Knight Citizen News Network hosts an extensive site on fact checking. A variety of presentations including a slide show of reporters discussing the fact-checking process, a screencast of how to make corrections, a tip sheet, confessions of mistakes made all round out the materials presented.


Lesson plans, complete with objectives, activities and supportive materials provide quick access to fact checking projects.  A Guide to the Lesson Plans offers information on how to implement the plans. Materials include a dictionary, tools of the trade with five tips to avoid deception, a guide to fact checking and a guide to help determine accuracy of internet sources. Subject matter is taken from professional publications but is up to date and entertaining for students. Interactive activities include puzzles, mysteries critical thinking. Teachers may want to adapt some of the content for scholastic journalism.


Offers tips for fact checking the accuracy of information found on Wiki.


Knight Professor of Editing at Ohio University Frank Fee offers 44 practical tips to guarantee greater accuracy in stories. It’s a good resource for teachers.


For additional information a great source is Chip Scanlon’s NewsU course Get Me Rewrite: the Craft of Revision. Information about that course is available at

6. Detroit Free Press Accuracy checklists
This list by John X. Miller is through and helpful.



Resources for First Amendment Rights for students


This provides links on press rights for students at public and private junior high and high schools

It includes links for virtual lawyers and had the top ten questions students ask and their answers.


This glossary defines terms relevant to First Amendment issues.  It has a search site for more information.


This provides lesson plans for a unit on student press law and ethics.   It was prepared by Carolynne Knox, Ruidoso High School, Ruidoso, N.M.


This poll gives statistics on student opinions about control of content of student publications.

Journalistic Ethics



“Journalistic Scenarios” by Jeff Nardone, Grosse Pointe South High School, Grosse Pointe, MI

Lesson plan that provides list of editor/editorial board decisions for students to answer

–Editorial Writing

“Editorials on Ethical Issues” by Mark Waldeland, Prior Lake HS, MN

Detailed unit plan (Scholastic Journalism text) includes references

–Journalism Ethics

“An Ethical Framework for Journalists” by  Karl Grubaugh, Granite Bay High School, Granite Bay, CA

•Lesson plan (three days plus) to help students practice making ethical decisions using real-life situations and how editors really handled the challenges

• “Lessons to be learned: The Importance of Attribution, Accuracy and Honesty”

by Jennifer Seavey, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, VA

•Lesson plan addresses importance of accuracy and honesty as related to ethical practices. Includes resources to Janet Cooke, Stephen Glass, Mike Barnicle plagiarism case studies.

• “Defining a Code of Ethics” by Amanda Gentine, Learning Enterprise High School, Milwaukee, WI

From definition to values, this lesson plans details content and timeline for a relevant look at ethics complete with brainstorming ideas.

• “Ethics and Hazelwood: What Student Journalists Should and Could Write” by Lance Dillahunt, East Hampton High School, East Hampton, NY

Lesson plan directs students to consider relationship of code of ethics to Hazelwood and Tinker decisions.


Ethics and Diversity

•Everyday Ethics by Kelly McBride

Articles/columns related to current situations involving the media. Resource for advisers and students

Guiding Principles for the Journalist by Bob Steele

Concise coverage including commentary and analysis

Covering Victims: Storytelling with Power and Respect by Bob Steele

Real-life case of ethical decision to run or not run a graphic photo of teenager shot to death. Steele discusses the dilemma, arguments and relationship to ethical decisions

Online Journalism Ethics: Guidelines from the Conference

Discussion of online ethics following a conference at Poynter in 2006. Reference to Bob Steele’s article, “Helter Skelter no More: An Evolving Guidebook for Online Ethics”

Ask These 10 Questions to Make Good Ethical Decisions

Bob Steele of Poynter Institute offers 10 questions to springboard critical thinking of journalism ethics.

Tip Sheet Archive

Recently archived stories from ethics blogs and chats on topics ranging from photo manipulation to comparison/contrast of two suicides, two newsrooms and two decisions. (2004-2009)

•10 Steps to Better Decisions on Deadline

Jacky Hicks  addresses leadership skills and ethical practices to improve publications


•No Train, No Gain

A link to ethical resources

•The American Society of News Editors Collection of Ethics Resources

A link to codes of ethics at news organizations and professional journalistic associations


At home page go to ethics link for countless teaching tools, resources and case  studies.


•News Ethics in the Digital World

Article discusses updates in code of ethics to include online journalism including facebook and twitter

Websites for Malice


This site discusses the New York Times Co. v Sullivan Supreme Court case in 1964 and how it relates to malice. The court said that the term “actual malice” was confusing, so judges should use the phrases “knowledge of falsity” and “reckless disregard as to the truth.”


This site is a complete glossary of terms related to malice—perhaps more terms than you would want to teach, but it’s all here.

This site gives legal advice on frequently asked questions about advertising and many other legal issues.


This shows that the U.S. Dept. of Education shows exclusion of FERPA information for use in yearbooks, production programs, honor lists and team listings unless parents have specifically asked their students be excluded.   It does not mention other student publications but a yearbook is definitely a students publication so a school newspaper might be included as well certainly as to information about sports teams and school productions.

This 2005 Student Media Guide to FERPA can help.   However, this law and its applications change often.   The Student Press Law has up to date information about cases, etc.  Go to and search FERPA from their site for the newest information.  Contact them for specific questions about a local situation.  The law is scheduled to be updated so you need to keep current.

This site from 2000 gives some guidelines.  It says as follows:

Where the new policies directed at student media miss the mark is that FERPA only restricts the release of information by school officials. Outside parties – including student reporters, who are neither employees nor agents of the school – are not covered by the law.    As the U.S. Department of Education, the agency charged with enforcing FERPA, has said: “FERPA was not intended to apply to campus newspapers or records maintained by campus newspapers. Rather, FERPA applies to ‘education records’ maintained by an educational agency or institution, or by a person acting for such agency or institution.”

JEA Position Statements: Prior Review

The Journalism Education Association, as the nation’s largest association of scholastic journalism educators and secondary school media advisers, denounces the practice of administrative prior review as serving no legitimate educational purpose. Prior review leads only to censorship by school officials or to self-censorship by students with no improvement in journalistic quality or learning.

Better strategies exist that enhance student learning while protecting school safety and reducing school liability.

School administrators provide leadership for just about every dimension of schools. They set the tone and are crucial in a meaningful educational process. Undeniably, administrators want their schools’ graduates to be well-educated and effective citizens. Often, school or district missions statements state this goal explicitly. JEA supports them in that effort.

So, when the Journalism Education Association challenges the judgment of administrators who prior review student media, it does so believing better strategies more closely align with enhanced civic engagement, critical thinking and decision-making.

Prior review by administrators undermines critical thinking, encourages students to dismiss the role of a free press in society and provides no greater likelihood of increased quality of student media. Prior review inevitably leads to censorship. Prior review inherently creates serious conflicts of interest and compromises administrator neutrality, putting the school in potential legal jeopardy.

Without prior review, administrators retain better strategies that support journalism programs. Such approaches include:
• Working with students cooperatively to be good sources for stories
• Hiring qualified advisers and journalism teachers
• Building trust in the learning and communication process in a way that also lessens liability concerns of the school system
• Offering feedback after each publication
• Increasing dialogue among school staff and students, thus encouraging outlets of expression that strengthens school safety
• Expanding school and community understanding and appreciation of the value of free – and journalistically responsible – student media
• Providing necessary resources to support and maintain publication programs, including financial support, master schedule preferences, development opportunities and time

These strategies, and others listed below can enhance the influence of administrators without intruding on student control of their media as outlined by court decisions and the First Amendment.

Administrators can and should:
• Foster appreciation for America’s democratic ideals by inspiring students and their advisers to practice democratic principles through free student media
• Hire the most qualified educator to teach and advise or help one without solid journalism background become more knowledgeable. This allows the educator to provide training so students can better become self-sufficient as they make decisions and practice journalism within the scope of the school’s educational mission and the First Amendment
• Trust and respect their advisers, their student media editors and staff as the students make decisions
• Maintain dialogue and feedback to protect and enhance student expression, to afford students real input in the process, and to broaden their opportunities to excel

Teachers and advisers can and should:
• Model standards of professional journalistic conduct to students, administrators and others
• Emphasize the importance of accuracy, balance and clarity in all aspects of news gathering and reporting
• Advise, not act as censors or decision makers
• Empower students to make decisions of style, structure and content by creating a learning atmosphere where students will actively practice critical thinking and decision-making
• Encourage students to seek other points of view and to explore a variety of information sources in their decision-making
• Ensure students have a free, robust and active forum for expression without prior review or restraint
• Show trust in students as they carry out their responsibilities by encouraging and supporting them in a caring learning environment

Student journalists can and should:
• Apply critical thinking and decision-making skills as they practice journalistic standards and civic responsibility
• Follow established policies and adopt new ones to aid in thorough, truthful and complete reporting using a range of diverse and credible sources
• Seek the advice of professionally educated journalism advisers, teachers and other media resources
• Maintain open lines of communication with other students, teachers, administrators and community members
• Operate media that report in verbal and visual context, enhancing comprehension and diverse points of view
• Develop trust with all stakeholders – sources, adviser, administration and fellow staffers

JEA Board of Directors
Adopted April 16, 2009