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Journalism legal and ethical presentation.

Exploring the major legal cases and ethical scenarios that students will encounter when creating a publication.

Kyle Phillips

on 21 August 2014

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Transcript of Journalism legal and ethical presentation.

Journalism law and ethics
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 the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Write an example that shows people exercising their freedom of religion.
Freedom of speech- come up with a time when someone challenged someone's right to free speech.
Freedom of the press, try to think of something that has been printed in the U.S. that other countries wouldn't be able to print.
Come up with an example of people exercising their right to peaceably assemble.
Tinker V. Des Moines-1969
During the Vietnam War Mary Beth Tinker and several friends decided to protest the U.S.'s involvement in the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands to school. They were suspended by the school for their actions.
The Tinker family filed lawsuit believing that the school was violating their First Amendment right to free speech by controlling what they were wearing.
The case made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court, where the justices decided that it was a violation of the students' rights. The famous quote that came from the decision was from Justice Abe Fortas, he said, ""It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."
Bethel V. Fraser- 1989
In 1989 Matt Fraser gave the following speech about his friend running for student council Vice-President: "I know a man who is firm - he's firm in his pants, he's firm in his shirt, his character is firm - but most [of] all, his belief in you the students of Bethel, is firm. Jeff Kuhlman is a man who takes his point and pounds it in. If necessary, he'll take an issue and nail it to the wall. He doesn't attack things in spurts - he drives hard, pushing and pushing until finally - he succeeds. Jeff is a man who will go to the very end - even the climax, for each and every one of you. So please vote for Jeff Kuhlman, as he'll never come between us and the best our school can be. He is firm enough to give it everything."
Matt was suspended by his principal. He sued claiming that his First Amendment rights were being violated by the suspension. Again the lawsuit made it to the Supreme Court and they ruled that the suspension was Constitutional. This limited student free-expression in school's if it was sexually vulger.
This decision applied mainly to spoken speech, and had little bearing on the student press, although it is often cited along with Tinker and Hazelwood as a landmark case for student free expression.
Hazelwood V. Kuhlmeier- 1988
In 1988 the Hazelwood student newspaper, the Spectrum, was planning on running a spread about teenage pregnancy. In the article they interviewed a pregnant girl at their school, but they kept her anonymous in the story. The principal exercised prior review and told the students that they could not run the story, because even though the source was anonymous the principal feared that students would be able to tell who the paper was interviewing.
The students filed a lawsuit claming that under the Tinker standard they should not have to censor their publications. The Supreme Court came down on the side of the school's in this instance. This now gave principal's the chance to have prior review of a student publication and allowed them to censor anything they wanted as long as they could come up with an educational purpose for the censorship.
This new ruling changed the ways that students had to act when creating their newspapers. Principals were now free to exercise their prior review and determine what could or could not be allowed in the student press. It took away the freedoms that students had previously experienced with the Tinker standard.
Iowa student free expression law- 1989
According to section 280.22 of the Iowa Code (essentially the Constitution for the state of Iowa):
1. Except as limited by this section, students of the public schools have the right to exercise freedom of speech, including the right of expression in official school publications.

2. Students shall not express, publish, or distribute any of the following:

a. Materials which are obscene.

b. Materials which are libelous or slanderous under chapter 659.

c. Materials which encourage students to do any of the following:

(1) Commit unlawful acts.

(2) Violate lawful school regulations.

(3) Cause the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.

3. There shall be no prior restraint of material prepared for official school publications except when the material violates this section.
This new law gave student journalists in Iowa the same rights as professional journalists and did away with the Kuhlmeier ruling, returning Iowa to the Tinker standard.
However, with great privilege comes great responsibility. There are five things that you cannot do as a student journalist in Iowa.
Materials which are obscene.
Materials that encourage students to do illegal things.
Materials that encourage students to break school rules.
Things that cause a 'material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.
What is obscene?
Obscenity is different from person to person. According to the supreme court obscene speech is: Speech which " . . . to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interest" and which is "utterly without redeeming social importance..."
The problem with the Supreme Court's definition is it leaves the definition open to things having literary or artistic merit, which allows people to claim that their piece is a work of art and therefore not obscene.
Obscenity is often determined by community standards, so for the case of a high school publication obscenity will often be determined by the social norms of the school. Think about things like what is or isn't allowed in classrooms, in school plays, and on the morning announcements.
In reality, every person will have a different view about what is obscene. As a journalist, if you're dealing with something that may be considered obscene you should try to appeal to the majority.
Libel is a printed untruth about someone.
Is it libel if I say Justin Bieber is a pothead Canadian who needs to go back where he came from?
How can you defend yourself against libel charges as a reporter?
What's good about the First Amendment?
What's bad about the First Amendment?
When you broadcast and publicly speak an untruth it's known as slander.
Libel cases will often invite lawsuits, and even student journalists can be sued by the person they libeled. Because you're given the same rights as a professional journalist you're held to the same standard of responsibility.
How might this show up in a high school publication?
What might be a way that this would occur in a student publication?
This is another place where the wording is tricky. It's up to the administrator who might censor the publication to determine whether or not a material and substantial disruption has been caused.
City High October 2007.
Harrower's Seven Deadly Sins in Journalism (ethics)
You will be numbered off 1-7 and in your group read the description and example of your 'sin'. Come up with a hypothetical situation where this sin may present itself in HS journalism. You will then explain the sin to the class and present your hypothetical.
Tim Harrower's Seven Deadly Sins of journalism
Conflict of Interest
Burning a source
The Society of Professional Journalist's code of ethics
Seek truth and report it.
When asked what is journalism Carl Bernstein once said, "The best attainable version of the truth."
Minimize Harm
Your sources are people too- even politicians and lawyers. Treat them with respect.
Act Independently
Don't put yourself in a position where your integrity as a reporter could be compromised.
Be accountable
59% of people in a 2004 poll thought newspapers were more concerned with making a profit than serving the public interest.
Independent student publications
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