The impact of a voice

Student press freedom creates impacts on districts and communities


Christopher Denkovich, Managing Editor (Print)

Student press freedom is a fundamental right that must be fiercely protected and defended at all costs. Any attempt to silence or restrict student journalists is a direct attack on democracy, transparency and the future of our society. The purpose of all journalism is to, one way or another, spark change. That may be a change in the government after exposing corruption, a change in opinion after reading an editorial or even just a change in a daily commute by giving weather updates. No matter the form, journalism sparks change.

The messages and stories told and reported on by student journalists can change or even save lives. This can come from sports writing finally giving an athlete recognition they have worked so hard to earn, news writing that details administration changes, school board meeting topics or any local events that affect the district. Even from editorials that highlight the dangers of social media, the impacts of racism and antisemitism and most certainly on editorials highlighting the struggles of mental health encompassing topics such as depression, anxiety and suicide. Stories such as these let community members of all ages know that they are not alone, that their voices are heard and amplified, and that they are valued and respected. However, writing and publishing these stories does not just have an effect on the reader. Stories like these have great effects on the writers as well. Student journalism promotes activism and community involvement while also letting students express themselves in a way that can properly prepare them to be the next generation to lead the country.

Simply not repressing the much-needed voices of student journalists is not the same as defending student journalism or the rights of high school students. Students both locally and statewide are fighting for support to end censorship and the repression of student voices. New Voices is an organization that is currently working with representatives across the state to gain support and sponsors for a bill that prevents administrators from censoring student publications.  In order to properly defend the rights of students, advisors, writers, students, administrators and community members must fight censorship masked as bowdlerization. In order to be effective, a coalition of supporters is needed to contact local as well as state legislators and representatives. Contacting these representatives helps persuade them to fight student censorship by sponsoring and co-sponsoring bills that prevent administrators from censoring student publications. While students and journalism advisors can join the New Voices team and work with them directly, anyone can reach out to their local representatives or news sources and make a difference.

With the momentous impact that student journalism and student voices have on their peers and their communities, it is disreputable for anyone to not take action and help ensure that the everlasting impact of student voices can be heard. Student journalism plays a vital role in fostering free expression, promoting diversity of thought and holding those in power responsible. Protecting and defending this cause is a necessity in order to give students the platform they need to change the world. Change needs to happen and it needs to happen now.