Monday, June 21, 2010

Copyrighting and Staffing

The first session of week 2, day 1 was dealing with media law, copyright policies and the First Amendment with guest presenter Frank Lomonte of the Student Press Law Center (top left).

I admit media law is not my specialty or anywhere close to it, but Mr. Lomonte made the session interesting and easy to understand. He opened by saying “Teachers, as public employees, have very little First Amendment rights compared to students.” SAY WHAT?

He clarified by discussing the Tinker Case of 1969 in which, in short, high school students wore black armbands to school as symbols to protest the Vietnam War. The school disciplined the students and this led to a lawsuit and subsequent test in court centered on students’ speech and expression rights. As a result basically students can express themselves as long as it does not substantially disrupt school. Just let teachers try that!

I tried to hang in there as long as possible as Lomonte explained copyright policies in different scenarios. But no matter how you slice it, it is still law! I hope to take all of his information, oral, written, and electronic then digest it over the next few weeks.

So far, I have been lucky with my school and newspaper following the policies as I interpreted them and haven’t had serious challenges from students. Now, the policies will actually be easier to teach to my journalism and English students.

The afternoon session was learning how to staff and organize student publications with presenter Alan Weintraut (bottom left.) I was amazed at how large some student newspapers and staffs really are compared to my school. There is some work to do but improvement is on the way to ours too, thanks to my thorough training from the 2010 ASNE Reynolds High School Journalism Institute!

Clarence D. Hooker

Hinds Agricultural High School

Utica, Miss.

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