Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lomonte makes learning press law fun

I must admit I wasn't looking forward to our three hour session on press law. A few minutes into Frank Lomonte's presentation and I completely lost track of time. With his animated teaching style, he engaged me from start to finish.

As executive director of the Student Press Law Center, Lomonte shared many case studies and discussed how national and state laws apply to them. "School newspaper cases just don't go to court," he said.

That set my mind at ease, especially as I realized just how much my newspaper students and I have to learn about applying privacy and copyright laws to our publications - especially our online newspaper. One of my first priorities when I return home will be working with my students to write a code of ethics policy and web guidelines for our print and online publications.

Thank you, Frank and the Student Press Law Center, for making sense of the law and being such a terrific resource and support for us as advisers. We couldn't do our jobs as journalism advisers with near as much freedom without you consistently fighting to preserve and protect our First Amendment rights.

Lomonte's Top 5 Analogies (in no particular order)

1) re: Hazelwood court case: "This wouldn't even make the MTV line-up - it's so tame."

2) re: students taking ownership of what they print - a Driver's Education analogy: "It's totally fine to scream break as loud as you can but avoid putting your foot down."

3) re: applying FERPA law too strictly: "If this was not ringing the pedophile dinner bell, would we not know this by now?"

4) re: students crediting photos without permission (Ex. "Courtesy of AP"): "That credit line is not protection against copyright infringement. It's a signed confession."

5) re: paying attention to copyright laws: "Don't shop at the second-hand store, go to the original source."

Above: Frank Lomonte passess on his passion for press law with animated movements that illustrate his points. Near the beginning of his presentation, Lomonte made a handgun gesture at ASNE fellow Tracey Ward's head to illustrate how advisers are sometimes put on the firing line. The act caught all of us by surprise and was over before we could snap a photo. (Photos by Lisa Edmisten)

Lisa Edmisten

Woodcreek High School

Roseville, Calif.


  1. Frank's enthusiasm for media law and First Amendment freedom was contagious. Thanks for recording all the one-liners that made his presentation so memorable.
    Jamie Ray
    Vista Ridge High School
    Cedar Park, Texas

  2. I really enjoyed this session. Frank was very funny.
    -Kelly Camak