Local high school media advisers discuss law and ethics

by Amanda Wight, Caprock Academy Sophomore; Taylor Petschl, Montrose High School Senior; Alex Waege, Montrose High School Sophomore; Joe Arebalos, Montrose High School Sophomore

Karen Wagner, president of the Colorado High School Press Association (CHPSA), came down from Denver, Colo. to educate advisers from several different high schools on the ethics of Press Law.

Controversy and ethics weigh heavily on advisors and students alike and with the CHSPA certification training now available, advisers have access to press law regulations.

“It is going to make it so the advisers can actually go back and teach their students better about what it is that they can and cannot do; it is going to empower students in the right way, not in terms of going out and covering controversy just because, but showing students here is how you can actually make a change in your requirement, which is really what journalism should be about,” Wagner said.

In order to be certified in Colorado Press Law, one must undergo an eight-hour presentation, which highlights the different ethical issues, such as responsibility, fairness, honesty, accuracy, independence, accountability and how to minimize harm.

Wagner urges advisers to become aware of the different laws associated with press.

“I think having an uneducated adviser is about the worst thing you can have in a student publication because they are apt to find themselves in situations with the students where they are in trouble, where the publications are getting censored and where students are actually getting the skills that they should be getting, being a part of the staff,” Wagner said.

Educating advisers will inform different high-school run publications informed of what they can and cannot do in the newsroom.

“I like the legal aspect of having certification and knowing you have the umbrella of protection.” Montrose High School Chieftain adviser, Lynette Palmer said.

The additions to the Colorado State Law will provide protection to advisers when dealing with controversial stories.

“It is going to come back to us, hopefully, adding on to the Colorado State Law, in terms of not just student protection, but also adviser protection, so advisers can still be punished for students doing things that they should not, so while students can be saved, advisers can still lose their jobs over something that they did that was actually legal,” Wagner said.

Dan Flenniken, Media Day organizer, talks about why it is important to learn about Press Law here at Media Day.

“We are a long way from a lot of things that happen on the Front Range, so it is important for the advisors to gather,” Flenniken said.

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