5 February 2019
Jan. 30 was Student Freedom Press Day – a day celebrating the hardworking journalists that make up student-run media and free press. Across the country, students honored this day by using the hashtag #studentpressfreedom and #curehazelwood across social media.
Student journalists face constant challenges with censorship, budget cutbacks and the amount of negative views associated with the media.
It is our responsibility as student journalists to hold our university accountable for being a trustworthy news outlet, reporting the truth and change the way the world views the media. Without journalism, there is no true democracy. The role journalists, especially students, play in our society gets overlooked and is under-appreciated.
Students at UCCS and every university should pick up a copy of their student newspaper each week to support media, especially at their own expense of student funds.
Student Freedom Press Day began in 1988 with the Hazelwood vs. Kulhemier supreme court case. According to constinutioncenter.org, “the Supreme Court decided a First Amendment case that had major ramifications for the constitutional rights of students…In Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, high school students in a journalism class at Hazelwood East High School in St. Louis County, Missouri sued the school district after the journalism teacher and school principal removed two articles that they deemed inappropriate from the school-sponsored student paper, The Spectrum.
The school printed the May 1983 edition of The Spectrum sans the articles in question—without the knowledge of the student journalists. Dismayed by the school’s decision, three of the student journalists, including editor Cathy Kuhlmeier, pursued their case in the courts, arguing that the school had violated their First Amendment right of free speech.”
Students need a voice to speak for them, and this is where student media is beneficial. With control by school administrations, students lose their voice as well as the small group that represents them.
For those students who don’t have a platform to discuss issues — whether these be social issues or political issues — student journalism provides the opportunity for discussion to occur.
An article for The John Hopkins News-Letter also shares that “A school’s students shape its paper in different ways, yielding unique content between institutions and diverse perspectives of what matters among individual students.”
The same article also shares that student-run newspapers are “unlike news and opinions circulated via social media, which have a proclivity to devolve into ad hominem attacks or illogical arguments.”
Until other students show their support for their local and student news organizations then there will always be push back and uncertainty when it comes to media across all mediums. In a world that sees all news as “fake news” it is our job as student journalists to continue to fight for our freedom of press, and report the truth for the good of citizens.
From 2008 to 2017, newsroom employment in the U.S. dropped by 23 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. This is just yet another reason why there needs to be more support for not only student media, but all newsrooms in general. If there isn’t support, we are at risk of losing our outlets for information that is crucial for the public to know in order to have a stable democracy.
The quote by John F. Kennedy represents the pushback and roll of the press: “Even though we never like it, and even though we wish they didn’t write it, and even though we disapprove, there isn’t any doubt that we could not do the job at all in a free society without a very, very active press.”