three students sitting at a table and looking at a pile of yearbooks

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Jill Chittum

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June 4, 2009 / Rights in Balance

What’s the big deal about libel and school yearbooks anyway? In the history of the United States, there is no reported court decision anywhere that a high school has been held libel for content printed in its student media, according to the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va.

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June 4, 2009 / Rights in Balance

When it comes to libel, the law does not have a sense of humor.

A doctored photograph showing a classmate exiting a pornographic bookstore may be meant as a joke, but when the boy’s mother sees it in the yearbook, she will not be laughing. Neither will the court.

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June 3, 2009 / Rights in Balance

In journalism class and on the yearbook staff, cover ethics first.

While understanding law – copyright, libel, invasion of privacy, obscenity, business issues, students’ rights – is important, good ethics help curb abuse of rules and the law and guide staff behavior toward noble goals. Ethics are the key in balancing student rights with responsibilities and respect.

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