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Professional allies against censorship

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Those looking for allies in their fight against censorship should consider professional organizations.

Check out support the Colorado Society of Professional Journalists gave students of the Overland Scout today.

The Board of Directors of the Colorado Pro Chapter of SPJ wrote in their letter to the Cherry Creek District Superintendent and Board, “Specific provisions exist that allow for prior restraint by school administrators, including if a story is obscene, false or libelous. None of these conditions appear to be involved in the Scout case.” Read the entire letter here and here.

Scout student journalists have argued the school prevented publication of an article that could have been published under Colorado law, stopped further publication of the newspaper and removed their adviser. The school has responded with shifting positions but now says the paper will continue to publish.

Even as we continue to support these students and their adviser, we, as advisers, need to be conduits for the importance of student free and journalistically responsible expression. We must model it, teach it and lobby for it whether we face review and restraint ourselves or are pinnacles of freedom.

Start with administrators; start with the community. But no matter where we start, we must illuminate the fact that the basis of a continuing, intelligent democracy lives and grows with a strong and viable journalism program. It starts where students are challenged to think, to make decisions and to be responsible as they apply what they learn without prior review or restraint.

Anything less – anything – undermines the core of freedoms we say we cherish and those in other lands fight to attain.

Follow the Colorado situation by checking these links.

 

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