Today’s ups and downs…

Opening up the computer some days is a downer.  On facebook this morning one of my favorite local newspaper photogs posted his blog for the week about how the staff of a local Congressman attempted to stifle freedom of speech by telling the audience there would be no videotaping of the public meeting (in a public place) because some people didn’t want to appear on camera and because there was no way to control how any video shot would be used.  :-(

So I moved on through facebook and hopped on over to my email where JEA (Journalism Educators Assn) has started up a new website – panicbutton – for high school media advisors and journalism students who need help navigating their way through attempts to suppress or control their high school journalism programs/newspapers/etc.  :-)

I feel secure for the future of journalism and am impressed with the depth of the panicbutton website and the support it offers – and hope sincerely that the Congressman and his staff rethink their handling of that meeting.

Final note about KONY 2012.  Sometimes things that appear to be right are not.  This movement to arrest an alleged monster in Africa for crimes against children is chilling on oh so many levels.  Granted – he does exist and it would seem the charges are valid.  However I am having trouble separating what appears to be a situation that is ongoing and has been going on for decades from what appears to be a filmmaker’s attempt to promote a film.  Does the film come first or the outrage or did the outrage fuel the film.  Plus from other comments, Kony is only part of the story – his opposition is just as brutal and should Kony be dethroned, hundreds or thousands of HIS supporters will likely die in a bloodbath once he is gone.  As one commentator noted, you can’t really take sides or attempt grandiose changes without being fully aware of the issues and knowing all of the players and consequences.  What is especially troubling about this is the speed with which is is spreading across facebook and other social media with few checking out for the facts.  Young people in this country and others appear to be galvanized for demonstrations in mid-April for a cause they support with all of their hearts (bring the criminal to justice) without researching enough to get the facts that might give them pause.  So :-) for caring and :-( for not having due diligence. 

A distant rumbling…

Ever since 911 I’ve worried about our freedoms…and, as a journalist, about the right to freedom of speech. All of my life I’ve kind of taken it for granted that the media has a right to seek and tell the truth. In these times that right can not be taken for granted.

And ever since leaving the real world for the shifting shadow and light world of education I’ve found an even more frightening situation. I’ve heard about attempts by school districts and administrators to restrain the rights of student journalists…some successful/some not. These stories used to chill me. I just couldn’t believe that an educator – a person in charge of guiding young minds – would deny anyone the rights guaranteed every citizen. It happens – believe me.

I found it curious that my first principal was very nervous when the issue came up – he knew the state education code and district policy prohibited prior restraint…and asked that I be careful with a very touchy story.

In my present situation I am not facing a wary principal, but an administrator who told me last week that, “video is not journalism” and he had a right to review any material my students wanted to enter in contests (and I assume want to put in the daily student bulletin…scheduled to go online in October).

Funny…I could have sworn I’ve been shooting video for years and it was journalism. It seems to me that newspapers are doing this daily too.

We all have choices…the last time the rights of student journalists came up I told him I was tired and really didn’t want to fight. I was right and he did not have the right to prior restraint. When the dust settled, the students published and nothing happened.

My choices this time are bothersome. As much as I truly love working with students, I abhor the politics and childish behavior that goes along with working as a teacher. All I want to do is my best at helping students learn. So what to do? Shutting up and obeying mindlessly is not an option. I’ve been considering leaving and finding a job more suitable for a malcontent…but that leaves my kids in the wake. Having a knock-down, drag-out fight is not my style….I’m more of the sit-in type. Passive resistance. Listen to the ranting and calmly refuse to give in. But it is tiring and a waste of both of our times.

Oh well. Give it time…