First-amendement flags, the end of good writing, and life (or, at least, H20) on Mars; This Week’s Fresh Powder Report

Does the First Amendment cover offensive flags?

After a high school student in Iowa was sent home for flying the confederate flag behind his truck, a group of fellow confederate flag enthusiasts decided this was a breach of their first amendment rights, and protested by adding confederate flags to all of their vehicles. In the journalism world, we’re constantly discussing first amendment rights; it might be worth a discussion as to whether or not this truly qualifies, and if there are exceptions, how do we determine them?

The downfall of writing in the U.S., apparently:

According to a recent Washington Post article, Americans can’t write anymore. This article has single handedly managed to enrage English teachers across the nation, but is there any truth to it? The author claims that having students “writing about how they feel” in school is not nearly as useful as teaching students how to write a structured, five-paragraph essay; they claim there is a need to return to the basics, but without drilling students on grammar rules. It seems a fine line to walk– are schools able to maintain quality writing standards without strict grammar lessons, or are we simply doomed as a nation to fall into bad writing habits?

New podcast on books you should care about:

JEA has started a new podcast called “One Book,” which, as you may have deduced, discusses books as they relate to journalism education. Their first episode takes a look at Charles Fishman’s “A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life,” which gives teachers tips on fostering curiosity in students, and how that curiosity can create driven young journalists. You can listen to the podcast here!

Real-life Concussions:

A few SNO reports ago, we discussed Will Smith’s up-and-coming performance in the film “Concussion;” a movie that takes a less-than-perfectly-honest look at the dangers of playing professional American Football. Turns out, high school football can be pretty dangerous, too; three players have died as a direct result from football-related injuries already this season. In response to these fatalities, a school in Missouri has cut football entirely, taking “preventative measures” to an entirely new level.

In non-journalism related news:

+ In case you missed it, the moon was pretty awesome on Sunday night.

+ Updated to iOS 9? You might want to read this article.

+ If liquid water exists on Mars….what else is out there?