Official site of the Illinois Journalism Education Association, 900 Community Drive, Springfield

IJEA Blog: Fall Conference offered ideal venue to connect and inspire

Yet another reason to get involved in scholastic journalism organizations was on display Sept. 16 at IJEA's Fall Conference. Kirkwood High adviser Mitch Eden led the way with his motivational advice, as IJEA board member Carol Smith recounts.

September 19, 2016

I prepared ahead of time and drafted my first-ever IJEA Blog entry two weeks ago to be published today. That great minds run in the same channel proved true once again. (OK, mine isn’t truly great, but you get the idea.)

Last week’s blog post by IJEA President Brad Bennewitz gave the same message as my early draft: Get involved by joining a journalism organization today!

carol-photoI then changed my entry to add more specifics on ways to get involved.

Our state offers several such chances. To see more reasons for joining IJEA than the truly beneficial one of getting a support network, go to this link on the IJEA website: Reasons to Join IJEA. It lists 12 of the many benefits accrued from your $25 dues.

IJEA also has links to KEMPA, NISPA, SISPA and SPAC, the other scholastic press associations in Illinois; most of these websites have lesson plans and other aids for teachers/advisers.

Unfortunately, if you did not attend the IJEA Fall Conference Friday at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, you missed another great opportunity to get involved.

Mitch Eden, the Dow Jones News Fund’s 2015 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year, totally captivated his audience, both students and advisers, with his keynote address

Eden, an Illinois resident who runs the renowned journalism program at Kirkwood High School in Kirkwood, Mo., started with a motivational clip from Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart,” followed by several other motivational clips that he uses every Monday.

He outlined ideas for helping staffs become teams, such as passing blank sheets around with a staff member’s name on each one. Each person was to write a positive statement about the person and pass it to the next one. Some of his students still have those in their pockets.

During his talk Eden used phrases like “Praise in public; criticize in private.” He finished with this gem of a motivational clip.

Also at the conference, IJEA board members Stan Zoller and Brenda Field presented an informational session on the Speech Rights of Student Journalists Act, which Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law July 29.

Zoller and Field were instrumental in gathering support from state legislators on behalf of the measure, which protects students journalists and their advisers from censorship by school administrators. The law replaces the administrator-friendly 1988 Hazelwood standard with the more exacting 1969 Tinker standard.

As the Student Press Law Center, a key ally in the fight for scholastic press freedom, described the new law: “Students in public high schools will now have a legally protected right to choose what content will be part of their publications, even those produced for credit as part of a class. The law does not restrict a school from removing material that is libelous, obscene, invasive of privacy, or likely to provoke disruptive or unlawful behavior. However, the law places the burden on school administrators for demonstrating, without undue delay, that speech fits within one of the unprotected categories before it may be restrained.”

If you missed this year’s gathering, look for information on this website in the coming months about next year’s conference — and then make plans to attend. It’s an ideal way to help educate and inspire you and your staff.

As for other ways to connect with your fellow advisers, an excellent option is to join our parent national organization, JEA.

Among the many advantages of joining: Membership gives you access to JEA’s scores of lesson plans. But that’s a topic for another blog post!

NOTE: The photo that appears on our homepage of Mitch Eden and Mary Beth Tinker, one of the plaintiffs in Tinker v. Des Moines, is from this article published by the Dow Jones News Fund.

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