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LETTER: On Student Press Freedom Day, we must celebrate student journalism



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In 1988, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment rights of student journalists are not violated when school officials prohibit the publication of articles in a school newspaper. In the Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier decision, the courts ruled in favor of censorship.

Wednesday, Jan. 29 is Student Press Freedom Day. It is a day of action and celebration of student journalism across America. As president of Reporters Without Borders at IU, I believe in the importance of all journalists and the protection of their right to independently report and publish the truth.

Since the decision in 1988, school officials and administrators have been able to control what information student publications can publish. However, fourteen states have chosen to enact New Voices legislation that protects student journalists from censorship. Indiana is not one of those states.

A grassroots movement in support of student journalism has begun in the state of Indiana, and in 2018 Indiana’s New Voices Bill was introduced and quickly killed in the state’s House of Representatives, as it failed to receive the 51 votes needed to pass. The bill was modified and reintroduced in 2019 but was left pending without a vote.

A student publication is just a publication. Student press freedom is just press freedom. Once we begin to choose what speech is protected and what is not, we begin to lose our right to the truth.

The Indiana Daily Student is professional journalism. I believe we should read it, but we should also fight for it.

Ann Lewandowski

President, Reporters Without Borders at IU

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