The student newspaper of Washington-Lee High School

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Restriction of high school journalists

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Journalism plays an imperative role in maintaining a well informed society and has done so for hundreds of years. Despite their impressive impact, journalists are continually restricted and ridiculed. Today only 10 out of the 50 states include laws to protect high school journalists, Virginia is not one of these 10. This failure to provide free expression and speech laws to students is unprincipled and the issue deserves to be recognized.  

The main goal of journalists is to inform the public of significant events going on around them. Not only do they present the facts, but they do so in a way most beneficial to their audience. Journalists work to make information understandable to their readers or listeners. They work to make their reports as accurate as possible, being sure to include proof of their observations. Why should high school journalists be stripped of their right to discuss and cover relevant and influential topics? “Although opponents traffic in myths and stereotypes, the reality is that student free-speech laws have been around for more than 30 years with no reported ill effects — except on schools and colleges that prefer to keep corruption and mismanagement hidden,” the Student Press Law Center said on their web page.

High school environments are commonly overlooked by large news and journalism cooperations, so it is up to student journalists to cover important events in their school and community and share them with the public.“Solid investigative work by community journalists frequently provides a springboard for larger outlets to follow up.” Writer Monica Stevens said on the nest.

In Kansas, where there are laws protecting high school journalists, newspaper staff were able to uncover that their new principal, Amy Robertson, was a fraud.The Kansas Publications Act protects high school students from administrative censorship, enabling them to do vital reporting. These dedicated high school journalists were able to publish accusations regarding their principal’s credentials, which eventually lead to her resignation. The story gained attention and was featured on many respectable news company’s platforms. Important figures in the journalism world also shouted out the high school journalists on Twitter for their remarkable work. “Impressive feat of journalism.” Tweeted Bryan Lowry, a political reporter for the Kansas City Star. Todd Wallack also commended the students. “Great investigative work by high school journalists.” tweeted Todd Wallack, a journalist for the Boston Globe.

According to the Student Press Law Center, even without state laws protecting high school journalists, students and advisers do have the power to advocate for publication policies to be put in place at the district or school level that institute student publications as public forums for student expression. If students, parents, teachers and administrators campaign for, and instill laws protecting high school journalists, student reporters will be able to do their jobs well and to the full extent. “Students can be their own best advocates by making informed and respectful arguments to their state and local lawmakers about why a free student press is important,” a section of the Student Press Law Center webpage said. “To produce better-trained graduates, and an honest campus dialogue about issues that matter.”

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The student newspaper of Washington-Lee High School
Restriction of high school journalists