Illinois bill sent to governor

7 Jun
From the Student Press Law Center (SPLC.org)
By Frank LoMonte — Executive Director, Student Press Law Center

Student Press Law Center

One of the nation’s strongest laws protecting the independence of high school journalism is on its way to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk after the state House gave its final approval Tuesday.

HB 5902 passed the House 117-0 after its sponsor, Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, asked his colleagues to accept Senate-approved amendments that paved the way for the bill’s enactment. The governor gets 60 days from the date of transmittal to act on the bill; if he does not act, then the bill immediately becomes law without his signature.

The bill augments Illinois’ existing legal protections for college journalists by adding comparable protection for K-12 students, as well as preventing schools from taking adverse personnel actions against faculty advisers based on their students’ legally protected speech.

Students in public high schools will have the legally protected right to choose the editorial content of their publications, even those produced for credit as part of a class, as long as their speech is not libelous, obscene, invasive of privacy, or likely to provoke disruptive or unlawful behavior.

Guzzardi’s measure blunts the impact of the Supreme Court’s 1988 ruling, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, which greatly diminished the level of federal constitutional protection for speech in newspapers, yearbooks and other “curricular” school-sponsored media.

A Senate-added amendment clarifies that students cannot insist on publishing material that incites classmates to violate school rules, a change that won over the leading opponent, the Illinois School Management Association, which officially withdrew its opposition to the bill. With that clarification, the bill passed the Senate Friday on a 51-0 vote with one abstention.

Stan Zoller, a longtime high school journalism adviser and chair of the legislative committee for the Illinois Journalism Education Association, said, “This is a red-letter day for not only the IJEA, but scholastic journalism in Illinois. We are deeply indebted to the efforts of Rep. Will Guzzardi and Sen. Daniel Biss, who led the fight in the House and Senate respectively.”

Zoller also credited the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, and the state director of the JEA, journalism adviser Brenda Field, for stewarding the bill despite opposition from lobbyists representing school boards and administrators.

HB 5902 squeezed through on the last possible day before the adjournment of a contentious session dominated by rancor over the prolonged inability to agree on a state budget.

In addition to the IJEA, the bill drew a broad array of endorsements including the McCormick Foundation, the Illinois League of Women Voters, the National Conference of Teachers of English and many more.

Unless the governor vetoes the bill, Illinois will become the second-largest state, after California, with legal protection for the independence of student journalists, and the third in the last two years — following North Dakota and Maryland — to pass a student-press-rights bill as part of the nationwide New Voices campaign supported by the Student Press Law Center.

“I cannot even begin to explain how much this bill means to me,” said student editor Hope Johnson of Taylorsville High School, who was the star witness in support of HB 5902 before the House Judiciary Committee. “I learned about the Hazelwood case my freshman year of journalism, and it made my blood boil, so to speak. I was under the impression that everyone had freedom of speech, but that apparently wasn’t the case for high school journalists. I felt frustrated, but the ruling had been in place since 1988, so how was I supposed to change it?”

“Knowing that I played even a tiny role in changing this law is still hard for me to process, and I cannot tell you how much it means to me,” Johnson said. “I feel honored, still shocked, and overwhelmingly proud. It’s a huge step in the right direction for the young journalists in the state of Illinois, and it’s a movement that is gaining recognition all across the nation, as well. I’m glad our voices are finally being heard. Even though the bill came just in time for my high school graduation, I am thrilled that the high school journalists who come after me will truly be able to practice their First Amendment Rights.

“I’m extremely thankful to everyone who helped make this happen. It’s a story I’ll be telling my kids a few too many times for their liking in years to come.”


Bill would grant unobscured scholastic press rights

2 Mar

HB5902 in Judiciary-Civil Committee

A much-anticipated bill protecting the press rights of Illinois public high school student journalists was filed Thursday, Feb. 11, in the state House of Representatives by Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-39).

The proposed legislation, House Bill 5902, comes almost two decades after then-Gov. Jim Edgar’s veto derailed an IJEA-backed student press rights initiative in 1997.

new voicesThe new bill, also known as the Speech Rights of Student Journalists Act, provides the following key protections for student journalists and their advisers:

• A student journalist has the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media, regardless of whether the media is supported financially by the school district or by use of school facilities or produced in conjunction with a class in which the student is enrolled. (HB 5902, section 10)

• A student journalist is responsible for determining the news, opinion, feature, and advertising content of school-sponsored media. (HB 5902, section 10)

• An employee of a school district shall not be dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliated against solely for acting to protect a student journalist engaged in conduct authorized under the proposed act. (HB 5902, section 20)

The bill does not authorize or protect expression by a student journalist that:

(1) is libelous or slanderous;
(2) constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy;
(3) violates federal or State law; or
(4) so incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of an unlawful act, the violation of policies of the school district, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school. (HB 5902, section 15)

“Participating in journalism is one of the best ways for our students to get civically engaged,” Guzzardi told the Student Press Law Center‘s Kaitlyn DeWulf in a recent article. “And House Bill 5902 will ensure that our young journalists are prepared for careers in media and public life.”

The filing came after IJEA board members Stan Zoller and Brenda Field spent three and a half weeks working with and communicating with various legislators. Their efforts eventually led them to Guzzardi, a first-term representative who won his Northwest Side Chicago election in 2014 at the age of 26.

Zoller is chairman of IJEA’s Legislation Committee, which is behind New Voices of Illinois, part of the nationwide New Voices effort to roll back the power of public school administrators to censor student journalists. New Voices USA is led by attorney Frank LoMonte, head of the Student Press Law Center.

Field, who advises the award-winning Etruscan yearbook at Glenbrook South High School, is national JEA‘s Illinois state director.

“Our initial meeting was with Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-57) in early January,” Zoller said. “We met with Nekritz on the recommendation of the Illinois Press Association because of her support for press rights issues in the past. She and her aide contacted Guzzardi on our behalf. Guzzardi is a former journalist and very energetic.”

FULL TEXT OF HB 5902:

AN ACT concerning education.

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly:

Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Speech Rights of Student Journalists Act.

Section 5. Definitions. As used in this Act:

“School-sponsored media” means any material that is prepared, substantially written, published, or broadcast by a student journalist at a public school, distributed or generally made available to members of the student body, and prepared under the direction of a student media adviser. School-sponsored media does not include media intended for distribution or transmission solely in the classroom in which the media is produced.

“Student journalist” means a public high school student who gathers, compiles, writes, edits, photographs, records, or prepares information for dissemination in school-sponsored media.

“Student media adviser” means an individual employed, appointed, or designated by a school district to supervise or provide instruction relating to school-sponsored media.

Section 10. Free speech. Except as otherwise provided in Section 15 of this Act, a student journalist has the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media, regardless of whether the media is supported financially by the school district or by use of school facilities or produced in conjunction with a class in which the student is enrolled. Subject to Section 15 of this Act, a student journalist is responsible for determining the news, opinion, feature, and advertising content of school-sponsored media. This Section shall not be construed to prevent a student media adviser from teaching professional standards of English and journalism to student journalists.

Section 15. Exceptions. This Act does not authorize or protect expression by a student journalist that:

(1) is libelous or slanderous;
(2) constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy;
(3) violates federal or State law; or
(4) so incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of an unlawful act, the violation of policies of the school district, or the material and substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.

Section 20. Protections for authorized conduct. An employee of a school district shall not be dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliated against solely for acting to protect a student journalist engaged in conduct authorized under this Act or refusing to infringe upon conduct that is protected by this Act, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, or Section 4 of Article I of the Illinois Constitution.

Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon becoming law.

– See more at: http://www.ijea.net/5836/press-on/ijea-news/bill-preventing-censorship-of-high-school-journalists-introduced-in-illinois-house/#sthash.EyovIqhe.dpuf

Chicago Headline Club slates FOIAfest March 12

2 Mar

Want to learn how local journalists dug deep to root out police misconduct, craft a public records request and dig through data to see what your aldermen are up to? How do you find records on deadline, and what’s the status of just how public information is in Illinois?

You’re in luck. The Chicago Headline Club is hosting our fourth annual FOIA Fest on March 12 at Loyola University Chicago. This daylong conference, featuring more than two dozen journalists and other FOIA experts, kicks off national Sunshine Week, a time to celebrate the importance of access to public information.

FOIAFest is made possible by the generous support of the Chicago Headline Club, Loyola University Chicago and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Further information is available at FOIAIllinois.org

Quinn urged to veto bill that would add limits to FOIA

30 May

The Chicago Headline Club today urged Gov. Pat  Quinn to veto HB 3976, which sets new limits on the Freedom of Information Act.

The Headline Club’s statement says:

The Chicago Headline Club is dismayed by the quick action taken by the Illinois legislature on HB 3796, which puts new limitations on the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

In essence, the bill, if signed by Gov. Pat Quinn, “…adds provisions to the Freedom of Information Act to create a category of requests called “Voluminous Requests.” This is in addition to the other provisions in the FOIA that enable public bodies to negotiate FOIA requests, which are the recurrent requester provision and the unduly burdensome provision.

What it does is add another barrier that blocks transparency by public agencies.

The Chicago Headline Club urges Gov. Quinn to veto the measure so that Illinois residents can have open access to public records and proceedings at open meetings.

“This bill does little to enhance and preserve transparency by public agencies,” Fernando Diaz, president of the Chicago Headline Club, said. “It is imperative that Gov. Quinn maintain a posture of open and transparent government by vetoing this bill.”

 

Center for News Literacy plans Chicago programs

22 May

The Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University is offering educators the chance to be part of a pioneering team of teachers and faculty who guide students to expand their knowledge and civic engagement with critical thinking skills about Latino-oriented news.  The inaugural class of the Latino-Oriented News Literacy project will take place in Chicago July 21-25, 2014, at Roosevelt University’s Wabash Building, conveniently located at 430 S. Wabash Avenue in downtown Chicago.  A general Institute on News Literacy is also being offered.  CNL_white_bg

Underwritten by a grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, this week-long workshop aims to develop and enhance critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and credibility of news reports and news sources in media directed at Latino audiences in the United States.

This Project will help prepare the curriculum, audio-visual archive resources, and training workshops for high school teachers and university professors working at communities with large concentrations of Latino students in the greater Chicago area.  Educators working in other Latino and ethnic immigrant communities will also benefit from this program, which builds on and is in partnership with Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy.

 

Lessons learned in addressing Latinos will be applied to development of programs to build News Literacy and citizenship skills of other immigrant and ethnic minority populations.

Application deadline is June 15, 2014

Cost: Nominal $30 registration fee.

 

Applications are available online, please follow this link:

Online Application Form

 

For more information, please visit centerfornewsliteracy.org, or contact Liz Farley atelizabeth.farley@stonybrook.edu, 632-632-7637

 

For additional information about the Latino-Oriented News Literacy (LONLit) project, please contact Dr. Federico Subervi, team leader, at subervif@gmail.com, or 512-965-5267 (mobile) or Stan Zoller, Chicago Project Coordinator at SEZoller@Gmail.com or 847-421-5278 (mobile)

Illinois Supreme Court tell state’s attorneys FOIA laws apply to them too

22 May

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that when it comes to public records laws, state’s attorneys are just like other government officials.

The Associated Press reports that  the unanimous ruling forces county prosecutors to release public records under the Freedom of Information Act.

The law is intended to improve government transparency. The case began when a reporter asked for emails between employees in the Kendall County State’s Attorney’s office. The office denied the request, claiming it was part of the judicial branch of government, which is exempt from the act.

An appellate court found that state’s attorney offices aren’t public bodies subject to the open information law. The state Supreme Court reversed that ruling. State’s attorneys prosecute crime but also act as lawyers for county boards, advising officials on zoning issues, contracts and more.

Deadline for EIU summer workshop extended until May 15

12 May

Deadline Extended: The deadline for applications to the Illinois Press Foundation journalism workshop held here at EIU until Thursday, May 15. This workshop is open to students who are currently sophomores, juniors and seniors.

The workshop is from June 16 – 27 in the campus of Eastern Illinois University.

We are looking to assemble a diverse group of students for this year’s workshop.

Information can be found at IPFworkshop.wordpress.com and student work can be found at IllinoisReporter.wordpress.com.  A downloadable workshop flyer is at the end of the post.

Students are encouraged to email their materials to jgisondi@icloud.com, although these materials can also be faxed or sent through traditional mail services.

 

EIU JOURNALISM WORKSHOP

News Literacy — With a Latino Flair

31 Jan

CNL_red_bg2The Latino-Oriented News Literacy (LONLit) project aims to develop and enhance critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and credibility of news reports and news sources in media directed at Latino audiences in the United States. During 2014, the pilot phase of this initiative will prepare the curriculum, audio-visual archive resources, and training workshops for high school teachers and university professors working at communities with large concentrations of Latino students in the greater Chicago area.

Educators working in other Latino and ethnic immigrant communities will also benefit from this program, which builds on and is in partnership with Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy, and is funded by the McCormick Foundation.

The primary purpose of this bicultural project is to explore the hypothesis that immigrant Americans’ ability to participate as citizens can be increased by teaching them News Literacy lessons using examples and lessons specific to their geo-ethnic media landscape and diet. Lessons learned in addressing Latinos will be applied to development of programs to build News Literacy and citizenship skills of other immigrant populations.

For further information about the Latino-Oriented News Literacy (LONLit) project, please contact Dr. Federico Subervi, team leader, at fsubervi@kent.edu, or 330-672-6287 (office) 512-965-5267 (mobile).The project coordinator in Chicago is Stan Zoller, (SEZoller@gmail.com; 847-421-5278.)

For additional information about the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University, contact Elizabeth Farley at Elizabeth.Farley@stonybrook.edu; (631) 632-7637.

4515_Logo_2ColorFinal

Mini-grant deadline extended

7 Jan

Are you looking for funding for critical thinking and civics education?  Are you located in the greater Chicago area?  Partner with the Center for News Literacy!  We’ve extended our deadline!

CLICK HERE FOR APPLICATION!

News literacy is the ability to use critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and credibility of news reports and information sources. It enables citizens to become smarter consumers and creators of fact-based information. It helps them develop informed perspectives and the navigational skills to become effective citizens in a digitally connected society. News literacy programs also emphasize the importance of news and information, the value of reliable sources and appreciation of First Amendment freedoms.

The News Literacy Mini-Grant program was established to provide small grants through a streamlined process. This application form is intended to make it easy for you to describe your proposal and partner with the Center for News Literacy and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation’s “Why News Matters” grant-making program to help spread critical thinking skills.

Our goal is to speed the adoption of news literacy courses around the country with the idea that “Early Money is Like Yeast”.  We want you to help us reach our goal!
About our Mini-Grants:
Applicants and proposals must be located in the Chicagoland area.   Ideas can be submitted by 501c3 nonprofit organizations, as well as individuals and businesses partnering with tax-exempt organizations.  If you are not a tax exempt organization, be advised that taxes will apply.

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: FEBRUARY 1, 2014

Please read through the application carefully.  If you have any further questions, please contact Liz Farley at the Center for News Literacy.
631-632-7637
elizabeth.farley@stonybrook.edu

For more information about the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and it’s “Why News Matters” initiative, please visit www.mccormickfoundation.org

For more information about the center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University, please visit www.centerfornewsliteracy.org

News Literacy Mini-Grants Available

20 Dec

Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy has mini grants available for Chicago area schools.

According to the Center, news literacy is the ability to use critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and credibility of news reports and information sources. It enables citizens to become smarter consumers and creators of fact-based information. It helps them develop informed perspectives and the navigational skills to become effective citizens in a digitally connected society. News literacy programs also emphasize the importance of news and information, the value of reliable sources and appreciation of First Amendment freedoms.

The News Literacy Mini-Grant program was established to provide small grants through a streamlined process. This application form is intended to make it easy for you to describe your proposal and partner with the Center for News Literacy and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation’s “Why News Matters” grant-making program to help spread critical thinking skills.

Our goal is speed the adoption of news literacy courses around the country with the idea that “Early Money is Like Yeast”. We want you to help us reach our goal!

About our Mini-Grants:
Applicants and proposals must be located in the Chicagoland area. Ideas can be submitted by 501c3 nonprofit organizations, as well as individuals and businesses partnering with tax-exempt organizations. If you are not a tax exempt organization, be advised that taxes will apply.

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: DECEMBER 31, 2013

Applications are available at: News Literacy Mini Grants

Please read through the application carefully. If you have any further questions, please contact Liz Farley at the Center for News Literacy at 631-632-7637 or by email at  elizabeth.farley@stonybrook.edu

For more information about the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and its “Why News Matters” initiative, please visit http://www.mccormickfoundation.org

For more information about the center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University, please visit http://www.centerfornewsliteracy.org