JEA Mentors discuss a topic during the morning session at the Mentor Forum in Seattle, April 6, 2017. The forums, held at each JEA convention, are designed to keep mentors’ knowledge and skills fresh. Photo by Mary Anne McCloud.

Mentors share experiences in “Stump the Mentor”

In a part of their morning session at the Mentor Forum in Seattle, mentors were asked to share situations that were particularly challenging. Here are some of those, and notes of the discussion that followed:

How and when do we give First Amendment Advice?

  • Make sure you have a “safe” channel for communication. Set a time for a phone call. It is essential to not use school email for this purpose.
  • Listen carefully as the mentee describes the situation, asking clarifying questions to establish 5Ws and How as much as possible.
  • Legal advice is “above our pay grade”; refer them to the Student Press Law Center for legal advice or just for questions and general support.

What do Mentors do when the published content of the Mentee’s students is not good journalism?

  • Refer to JEA Curriculum
  • Offer gentle critiques of the student work, if they want them
  • Work with mentee to develop a plan to incorporate skills development into the production class

How do we help advisers when their students lack confidence with interviewing?

  • This is a basic skill — help the mentee develop a plan to address fundamentals
  • Suggest using buddy system (take a partner)
    • Buddy can work as photographer or take notes
    • Use the Support and Assessment Strategy (from the Mentoring materials)

What can we offer to mentees of schools who are experiencing a tragedy?

  • JEA Curriculum Resources
  • C:JET Unit reprints: Covering Tragedy
  • Ask about existing policies of the publications
  • Offer model policies, discuss need to be guided by policy
  • Ask if the district has a policy about reporting on suicide
  • Remind the mentee to allow students to grieve
  • Attention to the functions (purposes) of journalism in this context
    • Lighter content in aftermath may serve readers
    • But help mentees to motivate their students to produce quality content

What do we advise mentees about their students’ coverage of undocumented students?

  • When is it ethical to use anonymous sources?
  • Connect to community resources to guide the staff
  • Promote factual stories to inform readers of issues
  • Encourage them to not avoid this issue even though it may be hard, as it is a great opportunity for learning.