As students across the nation celebrate Student Press Freedom Day, we are reminded that a student journalists’ voice matters, given that their perspective often differs from those presented in the media.
And as a student-run publication in California, we are protected by the California Education Code 48907. This California Student Free Expression Law states that “pupils of the public schools shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press.”
As a counter to the 1988 Supreme Court case Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, this code was passed to ensure that students’ freedom of speech may not be limited in any school publication so far as it’s not obscene, libelous or slanderous. And under state law, student media publications shall not be subjected to prior restraint by a school official.
We value and utilize this code as it ensures that our freedom of expression is secured. Most importantly, it holds us up to the same standards as professional journalists. It is our responsibility to provide credible and topical news to our audience, which would not be possible without laws like this in favor of student journalism.
Other historical landmark cases for students include the Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District case which ruled that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
With California being one of the 14 states in the nation with a “New Voices” legislation, we are lucky to be protected by strengthened First Amendment press and speech rights. Although bills have been introduced to six additional states for 2019, student voices are not fully protected in 36 states. Protection for student journalists is vital when they’re reporting on serious topics, whether they be on a local or national level. Their perspective of the truth is not one that can be duplicated by major media outlets-it’s unique to every publication.
Student press freedom is not only valued within our publication but in those all across the nation. Student journalists seek every opportunity to tell a story and be heard, which is why our publication focuses on stories unique to our school and the community that surrounds us.
All student journalists share the common goal of producing work that can create an impact, so we come together on Jan. 30 to celebrate #StudentPressFreedom.