About Student Media
Students on almost every college campus across the nation are engaged in journalistic practices that are comparable and similar to professional news media. Student media provides a semi-professional environment for students to cultivate skills related to media, creative and business operations while engaged in an academic setting. It is an experiential learning environment that enables students to apply the academic curriculum in a practical setting.
Employers in the communications industry are looking for applicants with talent, skill, and experience. Many journalism programs attempt to polish students' talents and skills, but where do you gain the experience that will help you succeed in your career?
Student media operations across the country provide a public forum for the expression of student ideas and voices. At Alabama State University, those public forums exist in the form of The Hornet Tribune newspaper, The Hornet Tribune online (www.asuhornettribune.com) The Equinox literary magazine, ENVISAGE general interest magazine, and the HORNET Yearbook and their social media sites.
What are the advantages of working in student media as opposed to professional media?
The most important advantage of student media is the geographic region or area that is covered. Student media typically targets the university campus and its goings-on, while devoting a small measure of space to local, national and state coverage. Professional media usually has a much broader focus, giving more attention to local, state and national coverage.
The second advantage is the purpose and mission of student media. It provides students a structured and practical learning environment to apply the skills and techniques learned in the classroom. Professional media are career-oriented practitioners who normally already have the skills necessary to excel in their profession.
The third advantage is student media is protected by the First Amendment, which has been supported in multiple decisions by the Supreme Court, including Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969) and Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988).
Finally, student media is run and managed by students, not professional media, so there are differences in frequency of publication, budget, capability, experience, etc.
What is the role of the advisor?
The role of the advisor is crucial to the overall success of any medium. The advisor must strike a balance between overseeing the work and allowing the students the freedom to produce their own media that accurately reflects the voice of the student body. Also, the advisor, to be effective, should be able to give solid advice regarding all aspects of a medium, from writing and editing to design and layout.
The adviser serves as a coach and educator, but not an editor. The adviser does not assign students to cover specific events or topics and does not prohibit students from covering specific events or topics. Instead, the adviser assists and guides students through their newsgathering and publication processes by educating them on a variety of aspects of their work. These aspects are broad, like the ethical and professional impacts of their reporting, their sociopolitical and socioeconomic role in the campus community, the role and position of the newspaper in a historical landscape and the legal implications of the student's work.
Should content be reviewed for approval by the advisor or general manager before it is published?
The term, prior review refers to the practice of university officials – or anyone in a position of authority outside the editorial staff – demanding that they be allowed to read (or preview) copy prior to its publication and/or distribution, or the outright censorship of the newspaper. Prior restraint, on the other hand, occurs when an administrator – often after he or she has read material (prior review) — actually does something to inhibit, ban or restrain its publication.
However, he or she can only stop it from being published if they find content that is either unlawful (libelous, legally obscene, invasive of privacy as defined by law, etc.) or seriously disruptive of the school. If school officials don’t find material that falls into one of those categories, they must allow it to be published no matter how much they might personally object.
What if the students make errors or print something that is not true?
Contact the editor-in-chief or managing editor of that particular medium. These positions serve as the official representative and spokespersons for the mediums and are ultimately responsible for all editorial content published by the newspaper.
You can certainly contact the adviser and make them aware of any mistakes or inaccurate information that is published, but the best approach is to make the students aware directly with the goal of promoting learning and skill development.