The three ‘P’s of online legal issues

Those thinking about expanding their student media outreach need to keep three concepts in mind:  three Ps of online legal issues.
  • Policy
    When you design editorial guidelines for your digital media, create them as equivalents with your print or broadcast media. You do not want separate and unequal designations of rights and responsibilities, especially if print and broadcast content also show up on a student-driven Web site.

    Of course, the SPLC and JEA both recommend all student media be forums for student expression and free of prior review and restraint. For more information, look for JEA’s model editorial policy, specifically the section on digital media.  This PDF lists JEA’s position statements on student expression, which includes the SPLC’s Model Editorial Guidelines.
  • Practice
    Maintaining your status as forums for student expression, remember there is no legal requirement, under FERPA or HIPPA or anywhere else, that you cannot publish names and faces of students. In fact, to be accurate and complete, you need to do so. The SPLC has a good set of information
    . Another good reference is a link page to online legal issues.
  • Position
    And, speaking of policy and practice, to be a forum, students need to make all final decisions of content for all student media: print, broadcast and digital media.

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 26th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He is the 2023 JEA Teacher Inspiration Award Winner and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on X and Instagram @manfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

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