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Journalism Education Association

jea national school teachers

When the Journalism Education Association (JEA) celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary in 1999, it noted that the organization's name and location had changed several times, but the goals are still very similar to those of its founders–to support secondary school journalism teachers and media advisers. According to its mission, JEA supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities, by promoting professionalism, by encouraging and rewarding student excellence and teacher achievement, and by fostering an atmosphere that encompasses diversity yet builds unity.

In 1924 a group of teachers attending the Central Interscholastic Press Association in Madison agreed unanimously to start a national association for high school journalism teachers. The group did not settle on a name and goals until 1929 when it became the National Association of High School Teachers of Journalism (NAHSTJ). Other name changes occurred in 1930 to National Association of Journalism Advisers (NAJA), in 1935 to National Association of Journalism Directors (NAJD), and in 1939 it became a department of the National Education Association with an advisory council. After World War II the group pushed for increased membership and by late 1949 had 800 members.

The current name, Journalism Education Association, was created in November 1963. At that time, a forward-looking curriculum commission chair, Sr. Ann Christine Heintz, oversaw the publication of several booklets for teachers, including ones that went beyond JEA's previous focus on newspapers and yearbooks to include broadcast media, classroom teaching methods, and publication trends. In 1966 the journal Communication: Journalism Education Today (C:JET) was established, evolving into a quarterly publication about mass media in secondary schools. When two JEA members participated in the Robert F. Kennedy Commission of Inquiry into High School Journalism, the organization embraced a new concern. The commission's findings, which included the pervasive presence of censorship in high school media, sparked JEA's increased support of free student expression.

With a membership topping 2,000 in 1999, JEA is the only independent national scholastic journalism organization for teachers and advisers. A volunteer organization, its elected board consists of current or retired journalism teachers. In addition to its president, vice president, secretary, and immediate past president, who acts as parliamentarian and convention coordinator, the board has regional directors and commission chairs. These commissions represent the areas of interest and concern for JEA and, as of 2002, were Scholastic Press Rights, Certification, Multicultural, Development/Curriculum, and Junior High/Middle School. A national headquarters at Kansas State University serves as a clear-inghouse for programs and activities, maintains the JEA Bookstore and membership records, and is the office of JEA's executive director.

To achieve its mission, JEA hosts two conventions per year with the National Scholastic Press Association. These spring and fall meetings offer onsite contests, break-out sessions, media tours, handson training, and keynote speeches from media professionals. By 2002 attendance at these four-day conventions often topped 5,000.

Other activities include a voluntary certification program; awards, including High School Journalist of the Year, Future Journalism Teacher, and High School Yearbook Adviser of the Year; Adviser Institute summer training; an Internet site; and a member listserv, JEAHELP, which offers immediate connection and support between members.

INTERNET RESOURCE

JOURNALISM EDUCATION ASSOCIATION. 2002. <www.jea.org>.

CANDACE PERKINS BOWEN

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