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12 students selected as Press Rights partners

The Scholastic Press Rights Commission will select and list students selected as Student Partners, serving to promote First Amendment awareness and help students fight censorship battles through the 45words initiative:

Download the Editor’s Emergency Toolkit as highlighted at the JEA/NSPA journalism convention. More information about the toolkit can be found here.

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You can follow the group on Facebook and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/45words .

45 words. 5 freedoms. 1 amendment.

Check out our Quicktime movie on 45words.

STUDENT PARTNERS JOIN JEA PRESS RIGHTS COMMISSION
TO ENGAGE AMERICA’S YOUTH IN FIRST AMENDMENT DIALOGUE

Journalism Education Association’s Scholastic Press Rights Commission created Student Partners as a way to help students connect with their peers to support, protect and spread awareness about the First Amendment.

 

February 23, 2010 (Manhattan, Kan.) – Just in time for Scholastic Journalism Week, JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Commission (SPRC) introduces a new student group called Scholastic Press Student Partners. Students represent schools from Arizona, California, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Seoul, Korea.

The eight public and private high school students were selected from applicants nationwide (and some international schools) to promote First Amendment awareness by opening dialogue with other students around the country via Facebook and Twitter. In addition to planning and hosting press rights events at local, state and national conventions, the team is creating a scholastic press rights awareness campaign entitled 45words. They can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/45words and the Facebook group is 45words. Although the group has already held meetings over the web, it plans to launch nationally April 15 – 18 at the Journalism Education Association/National Scholastic Press Association Convention in Portland, Ore.

Each of the students wrote essays that accompanied their applications, sharing their thoughts about the First Amendment. Some of them have experienced censorship, while others have enjoyed all of the freedoms guaranteed to the professional media. See their individual statements below:

Morgan Brewster (The Mustang Express, Multi-media Editor) of Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria, Ariz. says the First Amendment means freedom, “Freedom to express myself anyway that I want, whether by speaking out in one of my classes, to writing about controversial topics in my articles, to practicing a religion which I believe in.”

Christopher Kim (The Tiger Times and Kaleidoscope, Copy Editor) Seoul International School, Seoul, Korea believes the public has a right to the truth though some truths are ugly. “The First Amendment guarantees our right to talk about these ugly truths; the court is there to expose those who misuse these rights and whereas there have been cases of libel and otherwise unethical practices, there are far more cases of important truths being revealed for all to know. The risk is one we have to take.”

Zachary Knudson (The Crier, Managing Editor) of St. Francis High School, St. Francis, Minn. wants to continue to fight to keep student press rights for students in his own community and to broaden the reach into other communities in the state and nation. “It is important that we have students fighting with a passion to keep and inform other students of our rights to free press,” he said, “So that we will not be shushed or written off as unqualified to report because of age.”

Meghan Morris (The Spoke, Assistant Managing Editor) of Conestoga High School in Berwyn, Pa. quoted John Milton. “‘Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.’ This liberty is the essence of the First Amendment, and the core of journalism. Through freedom of the press and speech, journalists have the power to better our democracy, an influence that few Americans ever have, and an influence that too few high school students fully understand. As a Scholastic Press Student Partner, I will raise awareness of the First Amendment and its relevance to both high school journalists and high school students in general.”

Zoe Newcomb (The Broadview, News Editor) from Convent of the Sacred Heart High School in San Francisco, Calif., has experienced censorship first-hand and said, “The job of a journalist is inform people about the events around them that are important, a job which cannot be done without the rights given to us by the First Amendment. I think a lot people take for granted the gift of freedom that we are given — so many people around the world do not have that luxury. I want to be involved in what goes on around me, and not just be a bystander.”

Ted Noelker (Central Focus, Managing Editor of Multimedia) of Francis Howell Central High School, St. Charles, Mo. wants to be a part of any effort against censorship, having seen the effects of censorship on others and within his own publication. “Censorship is an action which I believe occurs all too often unjustly. I know the hard work that goes into making a high school newspaper, and I know of the frustrations of having that work carelessly tossed aside under inadequate reasoning. I wish to offer my support in resisting acts of censorship in high school publications.”

Sara Rogers (The Hi-Lite, Cover Story Editor) of Carmel High School, Carmel, Ind. said the freedom of the press allows her to thoroughly fulfill her duties as a journalist every day without hesitance. “While I don’t seek out controversial topics, it is important to me that when those issues do arise I am able to cover them. As a journalist, it is my job to educate and inform students and other receivers of our 5,000-circulation publication. I’ve always considered my voice and pen my two most important tools. I am grateful every day to have the opportunity to speak my mind freely. Seeing the oppression and censorship of other countries really solidifies my drive to preserve the rights and freedoms stated in the United States Constitution.”

Joseph Weber (The Kirkwood Call, Features Writer) of Kirkwood High School in Kirkwood, Mo. said, “From the moment I wrote my first story for The Kirkwood Call, I knew where I belonged. Going out of my way to get an interview, staying up until 2:00 a.m. to finish a story, it has become my passion. Where most high school students have no idea what they are going to do when they leave school, I already see my future: A journalist. But the journalism world is changing more drastically than ever. It is up to my generation to lead it in the right direction. Some may see the newspaper as a dying industry, but I see an opportunity to reshape how everyone receives, uses and appreciates the world of journalism.”

Founded in 1924, Journalism Education Association (JEA) is a volunteer organization that supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities, by promoting professionalism, by encouraging and rewarding student excellence and teacher achievement, and by fostering an atmosphere which encompasses diversity yet builds unity. For more information about JEA go to www.jea.org .

The Scholastic Press Rights Commission is a group of JEA members who help educate, advocate and empower student journalists to use their voices and find a role in their schools, their communities and their democratic society. In addition to student support, JEA SPRC also provides information and resources to teachers and administrators. For information on SPRC go to www.jeapressrights.org.

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