Students will practice sound journalistic practices as they relate to KHS-TV.
Kearney High School journalism department recognizes three classifications of speech which are prohibited by law or not protected by the First Amendment. Following broadcast, these types of materials may be subject to legal and/or official school action.
1. The first classification is material which is “obscene as to minors.”
2. The second classification is slander, material which is defined as false and unprivileged statements about a specific individual which injures the individual’s reputation in the community.
3. The third classification is material which will cause “a material and substantial disruption of school activities.”
A complete description of these are included in the addendum to this policy.
A. School Sponsored broadcast
1. Students who work on official student publications will:
a. Rewrite material, as required by the faculty advisers, to improve sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Students are also responsible for checking their own and other staff members’ writing for the previous mentioned items.
b. Check and verify the accuracy of all facts and quotations.
c. Provide equal access for rebuttal comments and opinions in cause of news features, editorials, etc. concerning controversial issues.
d. Determine the content of the broadcast.
e. Consult with legal resources, local and national, in any case in which the legality of content is questioned.
2. Advisers to official school publications will:
a. Serve primarily as teachers whose chief responsibility is to guide students to an understanding of the nature, the functions, and the ethics of a free press and of student broadcast; advisers will not act as censors.
b. Encourage the staff toward editing an intelligent publication that presents a complete and unbiased report and that reflects accurate reporting and editorial opinion based on verified facts.
c. Function as a liaison between school officials and students to ensure full communication of administrative guidelines to student directors as well as to communicate to administrators the First Amendment rights of students to broadcast without censorship or prior restraint and to communicate to school officials the duty of the institution to allow full and vigorous freedom of expression.
d. Insure that guidelines for the staffing and operation of Student Publications are developed in concert with the current publications staff and furnished to administrators.
3. School administrators will:
a. Communicate to the adviser and student editors any guidelines which may affect student broadcasts.
b. Be aware of the most current court rulings as they relate to free expression.
c. Support the First Amendment rights of students and the efforts of advisers to guarantee those rights in their daily work; communicate to other members of the school community the rights of student journalists to question, inquire, and express themselves through student publications.
d. have a director, an adviser, and principal, who are in disagreement over legality of content, consult with each other in order to reach an agreement based on legality and community standards. Provided no agreement can be reached, the next step is to consult the superintendent of schools who may advise contact with the school attorney and/or other legal resources. Final decision over content should be based on its legality, but community standards must also be recognized.
e. Not impose academic disciplinary action upon students, with the exception of cases involving violations of unprotected speech.
KHS-TV will broadcast on a daily basis at a time set by the school administrator and adviser.
a. School regulations should prohibit the broadcast by or to students engaged in, or supposed to be engaged in, normal classroom activities.
b. There should be no other regulation of the broadcast process except, as with other modes of expression, where such activity directly causes, or is clearly likely to cause, physical harm or the substantial and material disruption of the educational process.
Advertising shall offer merchandise or service on its merits and refrain from attacking competitors or disparaging their products, services or methods of doing business. The staff will not accept advertising that discriminates on the basis of race, sex or age; incites or encourages illegal behavior; violates board policy, or is libelous, obscene or invasive of an individual’s rights of privacy.
Student broadcast staffs have the right to accept, reject, edit or cancel any advertisement. Money will be refunded for remaining advertisements paid in advance.
Advertising accepted by the staff shall not be construed as an endorsement by the student staff, the adviser, the administration, or the school board, of the quality of a particular service or product.
D. Photo Manipulation
Photographs will not be altered electronically or mechanically except as necessary in professionally accepted darkroom and cropping procedures.
All content including text, pictures and graphics shall not violate federal and state copyright law. Use of any material copyrighted by others shall only be used with the prior written permission of the copyright owner or within the parameters of fair use.
PROHIBITED OR NON PROTECTED MATERIAL (AS DEFINED BY CURRENT CASE LAW)
1. Students cannot distribute libelous/slanderous material. Libelous/slanderous statements are provably false and unprivileged statements that demonstrate injury to an individual’s or business’s reputation in the community. If the allegedly libeled party is a “public figure” or “public official” as defined below, it must be shown that the false statement was published with “actual malice” i.e. that the student journalists knew that the statement was false, or that they published it with reckless disregard for the truth—without trying to verify the truthfulness of the statement.
a. A public official is a person who holds an elected or appointed public office.
b. A public figure either seeks the public’s attention or is well known because of personal achievements.
c. School employees are public officials or public figures in articles concerning their school-related activities.
d. When an allegedly libelous/slanderous statement concerns a private individual, school officials must show the false statement was distributed willfully or negligently, i.e., the student journalist who wrote or broadcast the statement has failed to exercise reasonably prudent care.
e. Under the “fair comment rule” a student is free to express an opinion on a matter of public interest. Specifically, a student may criticize school policy.
2. Students cannot broadcast material that is “obscene to minors.” “Minor” means any person under the age of 18. Obscene as to minors is defined as material that meets all three of the following requirements:
a. The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the publication, as a whole, appeals to a minor’s prurient interest in sex
b. The broadcast depicts or describes, in a manner that is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community concerning how such conduct should be presented to minors of the age to whom distribution is requested, sexual conduct such as intimate sexual acts (normal or perverted), masturbation, excretory functions, and lewd exhibition of the genitals, and
c. The work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
3. Students cannot publish or distribute material that will cause a “material and substantial disruption of school activities.”
a. Where the normal school activity is an educational program of the district for which student attendance is compulsory, “material and substantial disruption” is defined as any disruption which interferes with or impedes the implementation of that program.
b. Disruption is defined as student rioting; unlawful seizures of property; destruction of property; or substantial student participation in a school boycott, sit-in, walk-out, or other related form of activity. Material that stimulates heated discussion or debate does not constitute the type of disruption prohibited.
c. For a student broadcast to be considered disruptive, facts must exist upon which one could reasonably forecast that a likelihood of immediate, substantial, material disruption to school activity would occur if the material were distributed or has occurred as a result of the material’s distribution.
d. In determining whether a student broadcast is disruptive, consideration must be given to the context of the distribution as well as the content of the material. In this regard, consideration should be given to past experience in the school with similar material, past experience in the school in dealing with and supervising the students in the school, current events influencing student attitudes and behavior, and whether there have been any instances of actual or threatened disruption prior to the dissemination or the student publication in question.
e. School officials must protect advocates of unpopular viewpoints.