High School Journalism: Breaking The Barriers Essay

This essay has a total of 775 words and 6 pages.

High School Journalism: Breaking The Barriers

High School Journalism: Breaking the Barriers

Throughout the many trials and tribulations of the adolescent years teenagers try to find
many different ways to express themselves and discover who they are. There are different
forms of expression including music, art, fashion, and, of course, writing. Whether it is
through a personal journal used to express private feelings, or through the high school
publications such as the school newspaper or yearbook. These forms of expression give
teens an outlet for creativity and a sense of accomplishment. They also teach time
management skills such as meeting deadlines, and help develop a work-based environment
with other. While these publications remain important to students, school authorities
continually challenge them.

High school publications are not protected by the first amendment, therefore they are not
entitled to free speech. Controversial issues such as homosexuality, teenage pregnancy,
and drug issues are forbidden in many high school newspapers because the school officials
think it will hurt the schools image, or that it will influence students to make poor
decisions. If a student writes about a controversial topic anyway, then it is possible
that either their article will not get published, or that the student will be punished for
writing dissenting opinions without permission.

For example, one high school journalist Mary Margaret Nussbaum came under strong personal
attacks from churches and a local family values group after writing a story about the
lives of gay teenagers. The family values group took strong action to censor the newspaper
by urging the state representative to strengthen not only legislation against first
amendment rights in high school publications, but also against homosexuality. While
Nussbaum was merely writing the article and did not express any personal opinion in it,
she still suffered consequences (McCarthy 3). Another censorship issue came about in
Connecticut when a student at Rockville High School, Chris DelVecchio, wrote an editorial
stating his opinion on the mayoral candidates. The town committee for the mayor that he
spoke against complained and eventually forced the local school board to "forbid high
school journalists from taking editorial positions on candidates (Featherstone 14)."
However small these instances may seem, they still pose a larger problem of shaping a new
generation of kids that are well informed and should be free to express their opinions, no
matter how opposing they may be.

Authorities have pressured many high school newspapers so heavily that they have become
sort of bulletin boards for positive news. They never explore anything new or exciting,
and fail to challenge their readers or authorities in any way (Saltzman 93). High school
officials have no problem with their students writing upbeat stores on Homecoming queens
or football heroes, but when they step out of the narrow boundaries set for them then the
battle begins.

Some states have made their public high schools free speech territory on a state level.
These states include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, and Massachusetts.
These states have not yet been challenged with their decisions. Since the Supreme Court
case Hazlewood School District v. Kuhlemeier, which gives a looser interpretation to the
previous law stating that "officials could limit oppression only when it would disrupt the
school functions or invade personal rights (Featherstone 14)."
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