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April 30 2012

14:00

Student Photojournalists Arrested; What Are Their Rights?

As student journalists increasingly arm themselves with mobile phones for multimedia newsgathering in the field, more may find themselves on a collision course with local authorities unenthusiastic about having their actions captured in living color.

A reminder of that comes in the pending criminal trial of Pennsylvania photojournalism student Ian Van Kuyk, arrested earlier this spring while shooting a routine traffic stop. That case and others like it also spotlight how important is for journalism educators to make sure student journalists know their rights and how to stand up for them.

Van Kuyk, a Temple University film and media arts major fulfilling an assignment for his photojournalism course, was reportedly left bloody and bruised after being arrested mid-March while taking pictures of police at a routine traffic stop outside his home in Philadelphia. He was arraigned on criminal charges April 16 and faces trial June 13.

The case has drawn the attention of free speech advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), according to the Student Press Law Center, or SPLC. The general counsel of the National Press Photographers Association wrote in protest to the Philadelphia police commissioner: "There is no excuse for your officers to intentionally disregard a citizen's right to photograph an event occurring in a public place."

And in a piece in Philly.com, Larry Atkins, a lawyer, journalism professor at Temple, and member of the First Amendment Committee of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, wrote that "while the public should be respectful of police and refrain from interfering with their work, officers must not harass citizens engaging in First Amendment-protected activity. The public has a right to photograph police activities in public spaces, and police officers must respect that right."

But the Van Kuyk case is far from the only instance of arrest and alleged harassment of student photojournalists tracked by the SPLC, which says prosecutions of those who record law enforcement activity appear to be on the rise.

Occupy protests spark round of arrests

For instance, several student journalists covering Occupy Wall Street-related events were arrested last fall -- among them two from colleges in Atlanta, and another from New York. They join the ranks of working journalists taken in during Occupy-related protests around the country (including Kristyna Wentz-Graff, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter whose arrest was recently written about extensively in Editor & Publisher).

Hunter_studentphotographer.jpg

Other examples abound. In late 2010, a California student photographer faced criminal charges after snapping photos of a car accident, and had police in his newsroom demanding the pictures be turned over. In fall 2009, two student photojournalists at the University of Pittsburgh were arrested, along with fellow students and other journalists at a G-20 protest. And in 2008, a Penn State student journalist was arrested and faced criminal charges after photographing a post-football victory riot at the school.

Sometimes, the confrontations are with campus police. In spring 2010, for instance, an Ohio State student photojournalist was detained by university police while covering the attempted roundup of two escaped cows.

More recently, students at Hunter College in New York have encountered harassment of student photographers by school security, according to a faculty adviser. After a photo of the harassment (see image) was posted on Facebook, the problem stopped, the adviser added.

The right to record is clear, but not absolute

So what should journalism educators teach student photojournalists about shooting police activities? Bottom line: They have every right to do it -- with some exceptions.

"Here's what [students] (and even more, the police) need to know," wrote Curt Chandler, a senior multimedia lecturer at Penn State University, who has had two student photographers arrested in the last five years and cited this passage from an ACLU briefing on photographers' rights in a recent exchange on the Online News Association's Educators Facebook group: "Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right -- and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties."

But there are limits, advised the SPLC. Students, for instance, need to beware of what may be considered interference with police operations. "[E]ven if there is a First Amendment right to photograph and videotape law enforcement officers, this right is not absolute," warned SPLC. "Actions that constitute disorderly conduct, refusal to follow lawful police directives, harassment, stalking, trespassing, or other similar crimes may result in criminal prosecution."

In addition, since many cameras record not just stills but also video and audio, student videographers may face different legal considerations around wiretapping laws -- a number of states require consent by both parties to have their conversation recorded. Those laws may be changing, however, in the wake of a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling last summer that helped settle a Massachusetts cell phone videotaping case in favor of the videotaper.

"Knowing your rights means knowing the law," emphasized Poynter's Howard Finberg, who offered up to student journalists and instructors a free self-directed NewsU training module, Newsgathering Law and Liability.

But some educators believe it's not enough to know the law. Student journalists must also be willing to assert the rights they have.

Steve Fox, multimedia journalism coordinator at UMass-Amherst, wrote on the ONA Educators group: "I don't think that students don't know their rights. They do. It's more a state of mind that is lacking. Students seem unwilling to challenge authority, challenge the status quo, challenge the party line, afflict the comfortable."

Added Fox: "More times than not, students faced with confrontation from authority figures become compliant -- all while fully knowing what their journalistic rights are. It's frustrating and a fundamental disconnect that I see with many young journalists of this generation."

What's your experience as a journalism educator or student journalist? Are student journalists willing to confront authority figures to assert their free speech rights? And do students actually know the nuances of their rights in covering police action or not? Do you know of other student journalist arrests or cases of intimidation of student journalists by police or other authorities during news coverage? What approaches does your school use to teach about photojournalist rights?

For more information on student free speech and photojournalism rights, visit the Student Press Law Center, which tracks freedom of speech cases involving student journalists, and offers extensive resources such as this legal guide for photojournalists recording police action, a student media guide to newsgathering, as well as practical tips for dealing with police when covering protests (PDF). (Hat tip: Andrew Lih of USC and Frank LoMonte of SPLC.)

A. Adam Glenn is associate professor, interactive, at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and a longtime digital journalist and media consultant. Connect with him on Facebook or LinkedIn, and follow his Twitter feed. This monthly column draws liberally from conversations about digital journalism teaching practices on the online educators Facebook group of the Online News Association. The ONA Facebook group is currently a closed group but you can view ongoing conversations (see our group Q&A tracker), or join in via ONA membership.

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December 30 2011

19:20

Year in Review: 6 Trends in Journalism Education

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As the year comes to a close, it's worth a look at the some of the most intriguing developments in journalism education in the last year - from approaches to using social media and curation to new initiatives on data journalism, from academe's role in the news industry to leveraging publishing platforms.

2011 year small.jpg

Getting Social, But Not Too Social

1. Hanging Out is In: Journalism educators are constantly exploring new techniques that can bring some pizzazz to the classroom and better engage students. And one new tool that created lots of excitement this fall was the video Hangout feature of search giant Google's new social network Google Plus. Hangout lets users easily organize live video chats with up to 10 participants, group chat, screen share, co-view YouTube videos, access via mobile, etc.

Although the tool doesn't appear to have yet found its full potential with J-schools, the possibilities seem broad -- not only to improve interaction with students, but between them, as well as among faculty or even between schools. Some journalism educators this fall, for instance, used Hangout to bring expert speakers or even whole panel discussions into their classrooms, or to generate group chats with adjuncts or for news meetings. Among the possibilities: facilitating group projects outside of class, holding virtual office hours and hosting student Q&A sessions (here's more on Hangout, and more on the education potential of Google Plus). To grasp the full potential for the tool, some suggest letting students take the lead -- by showing them how Google Plus Hangouts works, then allowing them to find creative news uses on their own. Educators interested in Hangout might want to check in with USC Annenberg's Robert Hernandez of #WJChat fame, who's exploring a monthly Hangout about teaching.

2. Friending is Out, Subscribing is In: With the introduction of news-related services like subscriptions, the social networking powerhouse Facebook is finding more uses in J-school classrooms, where it's a tool for reporting and source development, user engagement and expanded distribution. But a stumbling block for many is the long-standing question - to friend or not to friend? Some folks won't do it as a matter of principle; others acknowledge the power politics by only accepting, rather than initiating invitations. But it's increasingly possible to bypass the dilemma. Using subscriptions, for instance, students can follow select faculty updates without the "friend" relationship. And the use of closed Facebook groups allows classes or larger groupings to share info without crossing any personal boundaries.

Facebook + Journalism 101

Curating and/or Creating News

3. Aggregation. Teaching aggregation may be controversial in J-schools (is it journalism or is it not?), but that hasn't stopped some from taking full advantage of one of the smarter curation tools - Storify. One fan is Hofstra's Kelly Fincham, who writes how journalism educators can use Storify not only to teach students to curate social media, and gain credibility and exposure, but also for faculty to organize readings and create virtual handouts for classroom use. Others have used it to curate training events and to teach beat reporting basics, or have taught it (and curation) as part of the core copy editor's function. Check out this Storify on using Storify for journalism education and another on tips for using Storify in reporting.

4. Players in Community News: It's long been a tradition for the J-schools to contribute to the general flow of news, but in the void created by the shrinkage of commercial news outlets they're now playing a far greater role in meeting community information needs. Beyond such ongoing projects and partnerships as those at USC Annenberg, Berkeley, Arizona State, NYU, the multi-university partnership of News21 and others, now add a new year-round news outlet from Columbia. The volume of university news sites has grown so extensively that American University's J-Lab has created a directory of dozens. Plus, journalism academe is getting into the money end of the business with the exploration of new business models to replace the collapse of the old -- for instance, CUNY, where I teach, has created the country's first master's in entrepreneurial journalism.

Hackers and Tweakers

5. The Rise of the Journo-Programmer. An ambitious hybrid of journalist and computer scientist is what some have in mind as part of the future of journalism. As Columbia was launching its dual-degree masters in journalism and computer science (more), Northwestern last winter announced a $4.2 million Knight News Innovation Lab run by the journalism and engineering schools (more). Other schools are focusing on just making student journalists smarter about doing data within their journalism courses, becoming adept at everything from simple programs like spreadsheets and web-based visualization tools to more sophisticated software like Flash. Influential online journalism educator Mindy McAdams proposes all J-schools have a full-fledged data journalism course, something a few schools appear to be doing (Columbia is one; CUNY is another). Meanwhile, the explosion of smartphones and tablets - the latter are starting to show up more in classrooms, though not without debate over best practices - has encouraged some schools to explore app development, whether through simple thought exercises or by actually building apps from the ground up in dedicated courses.

6. Portfolios, Off the Rack: While some instructors make the case to continue teaching basic HTML and Dreamweaver to journalism students, others are increasingly focusing on finding ways for students to quickly set up and customize simple professional portfolio sites. Wordpress seems to be the answer for most, urged upon or even required for students. Academics then actively swap the best themes and favorite plug-ins for everything from Twitter feeds to quizzes and maps, while touting their students' best work (examples here and here).

Of course, this column only just touches on major trends and key players, so feel free to suggest more in the comments below, and this column try to circle back around to report on them in more depth in the coming months.

A. Adam Glenn is associate professor, interactive, at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and a long-time digital journalist and media consultant. Connect with him on Facebook or LinkedIn, and follow his Twitter":http://twitter.com/AAdamGlenn feed. This monthly column draws liberally from conversations about digital journalism teaching practices on the online educators Facebook group of the Online News Association. The ONA Facebook group is currently a closed group but you can view ongoing conversations (see our group Q&A tracker), or join in via ONA membership.

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Education content on MediaShift is brought to you by: 

USCad68x68.gif Innovation. Reputation. Opportunity. Get all the advantages journalism and PR pros need to help put their future in focus. Learn more about USC Annenberg's Master's programs.

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