without names and faces?
• Is there a published board of education policy establishing
your student-run publications/media as forums for student
Admittedly, student media are protected from
administrative control under Hazelwood if they are
public forums for student expression in policy or practice,
but having a policy is a lot safer than relying on past
practice. What happens if the “nice” principal who never
prior reviewed anything suddenly leaves, and the new
principal comes from a school where he always read
everything? A good policy could save you.
• Is your publication able to endorse political candidates if
editors choose to do so?
It’s a common misconception that, somehow, spending
a school’s tax dollars on a student-run publication that
supports a political candidate is a problem with the
Internal Revenue Service. It’s not, and Mark Goodman,
Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism and former director
of the Student Press Law Center, even wrote a law
review article about it years ago.
More recently, he said, “There is no legal precedent for
the notion that editorial endorsements made by student
journalists are attributable to the school those students
attend. And, in fact, the IRS ruled over 40 years ago that
even when the school financially supports a student
publication, students may publish endorsements without
it signaling any endorsement of those editorials by the
school. So, the school itself may not be able to endorse,
but student journalists can.”
• Have you ever attempted to file a Freedom of Information
Act request with your school or community?
Responding that your student reporters have never done
so wouldn’t eliminate you for a FAPFA award. But using
this means to gather information others might not want
you to have certainly shows a staff that is willing to fight
for their right to access information they legally have a
right to get, especially if it’s information that can make a
difference to their audience.
If you read through these questions, you’ve essentially
thought about what you would need to do to apply for a
FAPFA. How did you do? If some of your answers are not
what you’d like for a school that values student voices,
now is the time to start doing something about it. This
may take baby steps, but convincing an administrator
those 45 words do belong to the students in your school
is worth it. The staff and advisers who will be named
FAPFA schools at the National High School Journalism
Convention in San Francisco in April believe so.
You may not want to make this a New Year’s resolution,
but, then again, maybe you do. The next applications will
be due Dec. 15, 2018.