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Free press–why students should
make decisions of content QT7

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For students to prepare themselves for their roles in a democracy, they must be able to practice guarantees of the First Amendment, thus knowing they can make a difference.

Free expression in student media helps students learn to make critical decisions for which they are responsible, to develop integrity in their journalistic practice as well as their thinking and to engage with people on issues of importance and interest.

Without this freedom, as First Amendment expert Nat Hentoff said, the Constitution and America’s heritage would be little more than parchment under glass, outdated, fragile and sterile.

Without this freedom student journalists would be mouthing approved platitudes that are not real. Censored news is fake news; it is incomplete news and contributes little if anything to public awareness and informed civic engagement.

 

Policy

If you’re developing a new policy, the Scholastic Press Rights Committee recommends using language something like this:

[Name of publication] is a designated public forum for student expression. Student editors make all content decisions without prior review from school officials. 

Question: 

Why should students make decisions?

Key points/action

For students to prepare themselves for their roles in a democracy, they must be able to practice guarantees of the First Amendment, thus knowing they can make a difference.

Free expression in student media helps students learn to make critical decisions for which they are responsible, to develop integrity in their journalistic practice as well as their thinking and to engage with people on issues of importance and interest.

Stance

Without this freedom, as First Amendment expert Nat Hentoff said, the Constitution and America’s heritage would be little more than parchment under glass, outdated, fragile and sterile.

Without this freedom student journalists would be mouthing approved platitudes that are not real. Censored news is fake news; it is incomplete news and contributes to public misunderstanding and mistrust.

Reasoning/suggestions:

“Without journalism, democratic life dies from lack of oxygen,” Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, writes: “Without democracy, journalism loses its heartbeat. Without a serious study of journalism there can be no understanding of citizenship, democracy or community.”

Resources:

JEA statement on student free expression in a vibrant and flourishing democracy

Democracy dies in darkness

With power comes great responsibility 

First Amendment and the obligation to peacefully disrupt in a free society

Related: These points and other decisions about mission statement, forum status and editorial policy should be part of a Foundations Package that protects journalistically responsible student expression.

 

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