After years of demonization, the targeting of journalists—including student journalists—has reached a fever pitch. In 2020, student press were attacked and abused by law enforcement while lawfully covering protests. College administrators unconstitutionally thwarted students from asking questions of government officials, recording interviews, accessing meetings and key information, and criticizing institutions. High school administrators monitored students’ social media accounts for anything that might be unflattering. They censored yearbooks from mentioning anything relevant to the lives of students outside of school. They used COVID as an excuse to cut journalism budgets. And they disciplined students for sharing photos that raised awareness of concerns regarding the health and safety of students and staff as they returned to school during a global pandemic. All of this suggests an intent to target journalists for the purpose of inhibiting news coverage of events and issues of profound public importance.
But students bravely fought back. When their schools attempted to silence them through intimidation, censorship or denying access to information, they pushed through and broke important stories of COVID cases on campus, school finances, and more. Others formed New Voices coalitions to advocate for state laws protecting student press freedom. Some even took their schools to court.
Now, on Student Press Freedom Day, we join together to say enough is enough. We should be fostering and supporting student journalists, not trying to silence them. Take action to protect student press freedom today!
Excellent Student Stories about Targeting and Censorship of Student Journalists
Naperville High Central Times fights censorship
High school students in Illinois fought back against censorship from their administration, utilizing their New Voices rights to assert their editorial independence.
The Daily Tar Heel wins their lawsuit over sexual assault records
In 2016 the Tar Heel joined several local media outlets in filing a lawsuit against UNC for sexual assault records the university had withheld. They won their case, forcing all public colleges in the state to turn over these records.
Ohio high school editor criticizes school’s prior review policy
The editor-in-chief of high school newspaper The Beachcomber wrote an editorial criticizing her school’s censorship of student voices and warning of the dangers of prior review. “While I respect the administration’s desire to protect students,” she wrote. “I often wonder who their decision protected: those marginalized or those in power?”