Thursday, September 27, 2012

It’s 2012. Why let the school censor your newspaper?

Glenn Greenwald reports on a group of Kentucky high school students whose school administrators censored their attempts to write about controversial issues, such as gay rights, in their student newspaper. The students responded by starting their own newspaper, independent of the school. “We decided that as journalists our duty was to create a way we could report on those crucial, if controversial, topics,” one of the student organizers explained. The group’s first issue focused on both censorship and gay rights issues. In their next issue, they plan to focus on academic stress, depression, and suicide.

Last week, the students won a 2012 Courage in Student Journalism Award. In announcing the award, the director of the Student Press Law Center, Frank LoMonte, said:
Through their determination, these students conclusively proved three things. First, they proved that you can give a student audience uncensored news about topical issues without the sky falling. Second, they proved that censorship always fails, because it’s impossible in the 21st century to keep information under wraps. And third, they proved that students are often more mature and blessed with better judgment than the people in charge of their schools.
Good for them. Maybe if we saw more stories like that, we’d see fewer like this.

I’ve wondered for some time why any student newspapers would continue to put up with interference from their school administrators. All the schools ever supplied was paper, a distribution system, and an advisor. In the age of the internet, who needs paper and a distribution system? Any students with initiative can find some good advice, unaccompanied by censorship, on their own. In case any student journalists are out there reading this: a good place to start is at the Student Press Law Center’s website, which has extensive advice and resources about your First Amendment rights.

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