High school journalists get a strong defense

Dateline: Thu 24 May 2007

Writing about the Amy Sorrell case in Allen County, and other challenges to high-school journalism, Ball State University's Warren Watson issues a challenge to news people to be more aggressive in the defense of 1st Amdendment rights.

http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=101&aid=123572

"Principals and administrators, seeking greater control of their schools, have become emboldened and are putting the red pen to student newspapers as never before, according to Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center," says Watson.

"Yet many professional journalists side with administrators. State legislation in Washington protecting high school and college journalists failed in part this spring because of opposition from the state's largest newspaper and at least two others. In 2005, the Michigan Press Association opposed student press legislation in that state. "

"And while local and state media covered the Indiana case, where the teacher nearly lost her job, national press largely seemed indifferent," he adds.

The arguments are sound, but my experience with many newspapers today is that they lack the resources to cover such battles. What once would have been a crusade is at best, initially, a story, followed by occasional updates.

The criticism is not unlike what was said of the nation's press in the buildup to the war in Iraq. Today, many newspeople simply go along witht he program rather than stand outside the comfort zone and ask the hard questions.

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