PR, a Superficial Fix, and Not a Fix at All

August 18- Both high school and college educators in California who back student journalists’ free speech rights will hopefully soon have legal backing of their own to call upon when needed.

 

As the Student Press Law Center reported, Senate Bill 1370, originally dubbed the “Journalism Teachers’ Protection Act,” has passed the state Assembly and Senate. The governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, will decide to sign it into law or veto.

 

“Under the legislation, a school employee could not be ‘dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred … solely for acting to protect a pupil engaged in’ constitutionally protected speech,” a Los Angeles Times op-ed explained, partially citing language from the bill. The op-ed later declared: “By providing a narrowly tailored protection for journalism advisors, SB 1370 will help the next generation of media professionals and their mentors, without threatening the educational mission of our schools. The governor should sign the bill.”

 

My Opinion: It is nice to read about the bill’s status as an about-to-become-law. It is simply a shame such a legal mandate is needed at all. Throughout my research on student journalism, I have come across too many instances of administrators suspending, firing or otherwise disciplining a publication adviser or a media outlet’s faculty overseer for work students have created. It is an action normally motivated by nothing more than PR. It is a superficial fix to what is usually a deeper problem. And it seems at times it is not a fix at all, but instead a blow to a person who has the most to offer and is the least to blame. And who knows, while this bill might truly help, maybe it too is nothing more than nice PR, a quick fix or none at all.

‘Around the World, All-Day, Every Day’: Spectator at MUW Set to Go Online-Only

June 23- The Spectator, the student newspaper at Mississippi University for Women, will all but abandon newsprint for the World Wide Web beginning in the fall. When the semester starts, the paper will begin publishing online only. Staff will roll out print only for special occasions. 

The reasons for the switch, according to faculty and administrators: making students more employable; accepting the reality of an online-centric media universe; dropping associated print publishing costs; and reaching a wider audience.

According to Barry Smith, the professor in charge of the related web-production course: “The print edition has had only a couple of thousand issues available in the Columbus area once per week. This is not convenient or accessible for alumni and potential students in other cities or states (or countries) who may want to receive this content. An online Spectator will be available around the world, all-day, every day.”

What do you think? Is the Spectator simply accepting the inevitable? Or is it watching the print pitch go by a bit too soon?