Quality over quantity? “The most impressive thing about Upworthy is that it publishes just 225 articles a month, according to this data. That’s one for every 508 articles on Yahoo! The site is so much more dominant than other news sites on Facebook that when you graph its Facebook-shares-per-article, it looks like a skyscraper dropped into a desert. Upworthy averages about 7,500 Facebook likes per article, 12x more than BuzzFeed.” — http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/12/i-thought-i-knew-how-big-upworthy-was-on-facebook-then-i-saw-this/282203/
University of Mississippi says newspaper's reporting will violate FERPA -
Earlier this month, a performance of “The Laramie Project” at the University of Mississippi was interrupted by members of the audience who yelled gay slurs throughout the play, which is about the murder of a gay student at the University of Wyoming.
After The Daily Mississippian reported on the incident, staff at the university organized a mandatory “dialogue session” aimed at preventing similar incidents in the future. The Daily Mississippian sent two photographers and a reporter to attend and report on the Tuesday meeting, but were told by Danny Blanton, the school’s director of public relations, that “attending the meeting and photographing or interviewing anyone who attended” would violate FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Source: The Daily Mississippian, Mandatory dialogue session for ‘The Laramie Project’ attendees. (Oct. 9, 2013)
SPLC Attorney Advocate Adam Goldstein: No. Just, no. That’s the short version.
You want the long version? Fine.
This is so stupid a misuse of FERPA that it would have to be twice as smart as it is to rise to the level of being merely wrong.
FERPA is about education records. Education records are defined as those records maintained by the institution that are directly related to a student.
Here, there are no records yet. When those records would be created, they would be in the possession of students. The records would not be, and could not be, education records, even if the camera had a flux capacitor and was capable of transmitting the pictures back in time so that there was even a record in existence to wrongly invoke FERPA about.
Furthermore, FERPA regulates the activities of school employees and agents. Nothing a non-employee student can do on his or her own can violate anyone’s FERPA rights, ever.
So, Director of Public Relations Danny Blanton, you took a law that was inapplicable to the group of people you were addressing, applied to records it doesn’t cover and that don’t even exist, and used that to avoid any pictures of your mandatory don’t-be-a-bigot session.
(This isn’t really part of the FERPA stuff, but is requiring people to show up to what is essentially a class the best idea you’ve had for how to stop people yelling bigoted stuff at Ole Miss? You give everybody in the room detention, basically? I wouldn’t go to Ole Miss just because I don’t want to accidentally be in the room when someone else is a bigot and says something and ends up screwing up my Thursday night plans. Because, come on, the odds of there not being a bigot in an auditorium in Mississippi feels kind of remote.)
Is this what they taught you at Ole Miss? When there’s absolutely no right to get the thing you want, make stuff up out of thin air? And it’s not even a good lie. That’s the kicker. Lying is selfish, but using stupid lies is disrespectful.
Can somebody at Ole Miss please hold a mandatory reeducation session for Danny Blanton on the evils of dumb lies? I promise not to take pictures.
Even though FERPA wouldn’t apply.
A tool which helps non-coding journalists scrape data from websites has launched in public beta today.
Import.io lets you extract data from any website into a spreadsheet simply by mousing over a few rows of information.
Until now import.io, which we reported on back in April, has been available in private developer preview and has been Windows only. It is now also available for Mac and is open to all. — http://www.journalism.co.uk/news/data-scraping-tool-for-non-coding-journalists-launches/s2/a554002/
Ohio school district says school bus cameras are protected by FERPA -
In an interview explaining the Aurora school district’s bus safety procedures, Superintendent Russ Bennett told the Aurora Advocate that each school bus is outfitted with security cameras to record student activity. The recordings can be viewed by administrators in the event of an incident, he said, but not by members of the public because they are protected by FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Source: Aurora Advocate, Bennett: Aurora school district has methods to deal with bad bus behavior (August 21, 2013)
SPLC Executive Director Frank LoMonte: I want you to take a good look at this school bus and tell me what you see.
It’s not a trick question.
Windows, right? Lots and lots of transparent panes of glass.
Unless your mother makes you wear a bag over your head on the way to school (and if she does, then FERPA is the least of your worries), what you look like riding a bus is not the least bit confidential.
We know that school bus videos aren’t FERPA records for several reasons:
1) Because it’s stupid. If a document is a FERPA record, that triggers a set of affirmative legal rights, including the right to have an administrative hearing to challenge the accuracy of the record and to insert corrective information into the record so it isn’t misleading or incomplete. Are schools prepared to let parents splice clips of home movies into their surveillance videos?
2) Because the Department of Education has told us that what kids look like isn’t a secret. In a December 2003 opinion letter, the DOE’s chief FERPA enforcer said it’s not a privacy violation to let a visiting parent sit in on a class, even though the parent will see the faces and hear the voices of other people’s children: “FERPA does not protect the confidentiality of information in general; rather, FERPA applies to the disclosure of tangible records and of information derived from tangible records.”
In other words, unless the driver is reading kids’ report cards aloud while driving (and if that’s happening, we all need a look at that video), it’s not a privacy violation to see what goes on inside of a bus.
3) Because the courts have told us so.
In a common-sense application of both FERPA and state privacy law (school attorneys, you can Google “common sense” here, it might be worth a look), a state appellate court in Louisiana v. Mart ordered the release of a newsworthy recording of a school-bus brawl. (Note: the Mart case was partially overruled by a later case, on a point of procedure entirely unrelated to resolution of the open-records issue.) The judges in Mart, learned and scholarly people whose decades of intensive legal training familiarized them with the workings of windows, said:[W]e find that the school board failed to demonstrate that the students had a reasonable expectation that their identity or their reaction to the crime would be shielded from public view. The students were riding on a public school bus and their actions were visible to all around them.
Similarly, a New York trial court concluded in 2005 that school surveillance videos aren’t confidential education records: “FERPA is not meant to apply to records, such as the videotape in question which was recorded to maintain the physical security and safety of the school building and which does not pertain to the educational performance of the students captured on this tape.”
Listening to a school lawyer try to explain why a school bus video is a FERPA record is like watching an especially slow-learning dog chase his own tail. The reasoning goes like this: “What the kids look like on the bus isn’t a secret education record. The video is the secret education record.”
But… but… but… it’s a video of what kids look like on the bus. Putting something non-secret onto a videotape doesn’t alchemically transform it into a secret.
We know this, because a Florida judge told the University of Florida that an otherwise-public Student Senate meeting was not imbued with magic FERPA dust when the university made a recording of it: “[B]ecause the meeting was open, it is hardly logical that a memorialization of it would be confidential.”
The slumbering U.S. Department of Education (where Secretary Arne Duncan astoundingly told reporters last week that it was news to him that schools might be overusing FERPA) was asked six-and-a-half years ago to issue guidance clarifying the FERPA status of school-bus videos. We’re still waiting. (In that request, a lawyer for school boards enlighteningly pointed out that schools don’t actually “maintain” the videos — which is a prerequisite for a record to be covered by FERPA — because they routinely erase and reuse them.)
Clarification is badly needed, because the Department unhelpfully muddied the issue in a February 2004 letter ruling that said a parent could not view a school surveillance tape of a fight if the tape showed any kids fighting other than her own. (Try saying with a straight face: “A parent does not have a right to know who beat up her child because we wouldn’t want to violate the attacker’s privacy.”)
We don’t need the Department of You Woke Me Up For That? to tell us the answer to this one. It’s as clear as a 10-year-old’s face smushed against a bus window.
It is only right, honorable, and just for me to tell you up front what you are in for. This is not a gut course. This is not an easy “A.” Some of you may be lucky to take home a “C” at semester’s end. Writing is difficult. It does not come to us as naturally as speech, and we have to spend years learning it. Editing is even harder than writing. We may be able to write intuitively, by ear, but we have to edit analytically.
But before we can even think about the analytical aspect, we will have to attend to basics of grammar and usage, because if you are like most of the more than six hundred students who have preceded you in this class, you will be shaky on the fundamentals. It’s not your fault. You were either not taught, or you were badly taught. You will have to learn some things that you ought to have been taught, and you will have to unlearn some things that you ought not to have been taught. You will have to catch up to be an effective editor, and there is not much time. — John McIntyre, in his 19th year teaching copy editing at Loyola University and 27th year at The Baltimore Sun, to his first day class in editing
Sony rumored to be set to introduce lens that appends to your smartphone. Gots to have it. http://www.engadget.com/2013/08/12/sonys-qx10-qx100-lens-cameras/
For the past year, Kushner, a former greeting card executive, and Spitz, a tech entrepreneur, have doubled the newsroom staff, dramatically expanded the daily paper and elevated the print edition over the Web. Now, only paying readers get access to the Register’s online content.
Industry watchers call this a radical experiment, but Kushner and Spitz see it as playing to strengths the rest of the business has too often forgotten: The drawing power of quality local journalism, of striving to cover a community top to bottom and of making sure subscribers know they are valued. That must be a newspaper’s contract with its community, they say. — Register owners reflect on their first year
And you may ask yourself, how did we stick those pencils into books?
Finished copies of How to Write Shortby Roy Peter Clark arrived today, and it turns out that in addition to offering valuable writing advice, they also provide a mesmerizing optical illusion.