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About Student Media

Student media provides a semi-professional environment for students to cultivate skills related to media, creative, personnel and business operations while engaged in an academic setting. Student media programs provide a public forum for the expression of student ideas and voices. At the University of North Alabama, that public forum exists in the form of The Flor-Ala newspaper, its online publication available at florala.net, its social media sites, The Roar-Ala magazine and the Diorama yearbook. Student Media is part of the UNA Department of Communications, and College of Arts and Sciences.

How does student media differ from professional news media?

Student media is protected by the First Amendment, which has been supported in multiple U.S. Supreme Court decisions, including Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969) and Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988).

The purpose and mission of student media is to provide students a structured and practical learning environment to apply skills and knowledge gained in the classroom. Student media typically focuses its coverage on its campus while professional media have a much broader focus. Students — not professional media — operate and manage student media, so there are differences in frequency of publication, budget, capability and experience.

What is prior review?

Prior review is any type of review or control of content before it is published. This could include the editing of news articles, control of editorial decisions regarding certain events, or control or influence of news assignments, or the outright censorship of the newspaper. UNA does not practice any prior review of The Flor-Ala. An adviser assists and supports students through the newsgathering and publication process.

What does the adviser do?

The adviser serves as a coach and educator, but not an editor. The adviser does not assign students to cover specific events or topics, and does not prohibit students from covering specific events or topics.

Instead, the adviser assists and guides students through their newsgathering and publication processes by educating them on a variety of aspects of their work. These aspects include the ethical and professional impacts of their reporting, their role in the campus community, the role and position of the newspaper in a historical landscape and legal implications.

The adviser also assists the students in generating revenue through the sale of advertising and other streams. The adviser provides general oversight of the development of the newspaper, and supports students who serve in those capacities for The Flor-Ala. 

Shouldn't the adviser make sure everything is correct?

 Not always. Everyone learns from their mistakes, and this remains the case in student media. The adviser assists the students with their work and answers questions they have during their process, but it is ultimately up to the students to ensure the information they publish is correct and accurate.

What if the newspaper gets something wrong?

Contact the editor-in-chief. The editor-in-chief serves as the official representative and spokesperson of The Flor-Ala, and is ultimately responsible for all editorial content published by the newspaper. Factual errors are corrected as necessary and appropriate.

You can certainly contact the adviser and make the adviser aware of any mistakes or inaccurate information that is published, but the best approach is to make the students aware directly with the goal of promoting learning and skill development.

You can reach the editor-in-chief at 256-765-4364 or editor@florala.net  or the adviser by calling 256-765-4426 or visiting the newsroom, located in the Student Publications Building.

Is The Flor-Ala an official publication of UNA?

No. The Flor-Ala is a publication produced by enrolled UNA students, but not an official publication of the university. It is editorially independent from the university, meaning the opinions and views expressed in The Flor-Ala are not necessarily reflective of those held by the university.

How can I get involved?

Student media welcomes students to write articles, take photographs, and help design graphics and pages. The most talented and dependable volunteers for our publications have a better chance of earning a scholarship position. For more information, visit our facilities in the Student Publications Building. You may contact The Flor-Ala editor-in-chief at editor@florala.net or 256-765-4364, or the Diorama executive editor at diorama@una.edu or 256-765-5184. Contact the Student Media adviser at 256-765-4426 or smorris4@una.edu.

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