Media Day welcomes Western New York’s student journalists

The Western New York School Press Association (WNYSPA) will sponsor its 32nd annual Media Day event at SUNY Fredonia, Wednesday, April 17 and will feature Frank LoMonte, the executive director of the Student Press Law Center, a nonprofit legal-aid organization serving the needs of student journalists nationwide, as the key note speaker.

LoMonte will discuss whether press freedom still can – and should – exist in schools, whether in print, over the air or online. He will also cover the state of the First Amendment in schools, what legal protections students have when they publish (including tweeting) online, and how to make your journalism the most “censor-proof” it can be.

This event, open to all schools in Western New York that produce student newspapers and magazines, includes a morning of workshops followed by a keynote speaker and awards ceremony. The purpose of the event is to enforce the writing, editing, photography, design and other skills needed to create a quality publication.

Schools that do not offer publications programs, but are interested in creating a school publication, are welcome to send students and potential advisers, according to WNYSPA director Lisa Reinhardt.

“Journalism programs offer students the opportunity to publish their work, the final stage in the writing process. Research shows this can motivate students to write for a larger audience, resulting in stronger communications skills,” Reinhardt explained. “We encourage local schools to join us to explore options and applaud students who are publishing their work.”

LoMonte was named executive director of the Student Press Law Center, in January 2008. Before joining the SPLC, LoMonte was a litigation attorney in the Atlanta office of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP and served as a law clerk for two federal judges. Before law school, LoMonte was an investigative journalist and political columnist with the Georgia-based Morris newspaper chain. His articles on First Amendment legal topics have appeared in the American University Law Review, the Chronicle of Higher Education and numerous other publications, and he has been a presenter on issues relating to the First Amendment in schools at the Education Law Association, the Council of School Attorneys and dozens of other events. For his work with the SPLC, he has been recognized with the Distinguished Service Award from the Southern Interscholastic Press Association and the Inglehart Freedom of Expression Award from the Society for Collegiate Journalists.

The workshop presenters include working journalists from The Buffalo News, Channel 2 news and the Dunkirk OBSERVER as well as journalism teachers from local schools and SUNY Fredonia.

In addition to various workshops and the keynote speaker, advisers and students will have the opportunity to share strategies and ideas to keep the First Amendment alive in their schools, especially in times of tight budgets and limited programs. There will also be a meeting of advisers to plan for future events.

Further information about Media Day may be obtained from Reinhardt at 679-8915 or reinhardt3@hotmail.com.