Protocol for a Free & Responsible Student News Media – McCormick Foundation

By Peggy Gregory

Mentor Randy Swikle presented a newly published protocol for resolving conflict to the mentors at the Kansas City JEA/NSPA fall convention.

Published by the McCormick Foundation, “The protocol was developed to help student journalists and school administrators build relationships that will foster responsible and free student news media in schools,” according to the Foundation website.

Swikle’s handout for mentors defined protocol as “a process and a framework for making good decisions.” It includes key principles and important questions.

Swikle, a participant in the creation of the 10-step protocol, said this set of guidelines focuses more on “cultivating learning than controlling learners.” Stakeholders including the principal, adviser and student journalists should begin with what is agreed upon when discussing issues and try to work in partnership to resolve disagreements. Everyone needs to be held accountable as well, he said.

“All too often student media fall victim to the inevitable tensions associated with schools’ perpetual balancing act between freedom and structure. The Protocol is our best effort to find balance between these two interests,” say the publishers on the web.

Although hard copies of Protocol for a Free & Responsible Student News Media have been published, the entire document is downloadable at