Thursday, May 24, 2007

J-Ideas director urges professional media to support student journalists

Warren Watson, the director of J-Ideas at Ball State University, put together a nice piece on the Poynter Institute's site urging professional media members to join the fight for student free press rights.

Much of what he had to say centered around the opposition to our own state's failed legislation, specifically pointing out The Seattle Times' flawed editorial. He expresses hope that the recent case at Woodlan Junior-Senior High School will provide the impetus for professional media involvement in the fight:

Sometimes it takes a high-profile case. The Indiana adviser, Amy Sorrell of Woodlan Junior-Senior High School near Fort Wayne, Ind., was in the middle of her suspension at the time of the ASNE convention. ... Her situation has energized some editors.

"This move sets the First Amendment back a notch," said Mike Smith, a journalist and executive director of the Northwestern University-based Media Management Center. "Students are the victims of this. Talk about your teaching moments."

Watson sums up the story this way:

Student journalists are in the process of learning the First Amendment. Student journalism is education in action. Censorship subverts the true learning of journalism.

"Too many of us forget," [USA Today editor Ken] Paulson said, "that the First Amendment is not handed to a young person along with a high school diploma. These core liberties belong to every American, and it's the job of a free press to stand up for all journalists, whether they're drawing a paycheck or not."

There's a nice section for feedback. Consider leaving a comment to urge our professional media colleagues to take a larger role in defending the First Amendment in high schools.

No comments: