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Courage in journalism

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As Frank LoMonte, director of the Student Press Law Center,  was announcing the Courage in Journalism Award to two young men from Pennsylvania, I realized that they stood there because their adviser had taught them well about the First Amendment.  These young men, Henry Rome (Journalism Education Association’s national Student Journalist of the Year for 2009 and former editor of The Spoke) and Seth Zweifler, current editor of The Spoke, at Conestoga High School (Berwyn, Pa.), learned the lesson.

When their school board began discussions regarding new policies for censorship of the student publication, the team geared up to educate the school board on what their teacher, Susan Houseman, had taught them.  They said ‘no’ to censorship of their national award winning publication that is both a print and online publication.  Neither were they willing to relinquish their First Amendment Rights at the school house gate, because Tinker v. Des Moines stated they did not shed them at the gate.

After the awards ceremony, Zweifler commented that journalist was the most important word when asked what he would tell student journalists who are being censored.  What a refreshing comment to hear – students who are journalists – that is really why the JEA SPRC exists. We support young journalists and advisers in their quest for truth and in their support of First Amendment rights for students.

If you would like to see more of what Rome and Zweifler accomplished in their five months mission this past year, go to their website: http://www.friendsofthespoke.org This site is the perfect example of how student journalists can stand up to censorship of student publications by educating school board members, who later abandoned the idea.  A wealth of information and strategies for meeting the challenge of censorship is available on this site – all written by student journalists.

Bravo, Henry and Seth for being First Amendment warriors!  Thank you Frank LoMonte for leading the charge!

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