By Andy Damián–Correa
The City College journalism department participated in what the Student Press Law Center declared Student Press Freedom Day on January 30 to recognize the role student journalists play in society and emphasize the need for state-based legislation to protect their First Amendment rights.
With newspapers and pamphlets in hand, journalism students – with skills ranging from editing, reporting, photography to design – gathered at an information booth in Ram Plaza to showcase journalism education and highlight the challenges reporters face within their own schools.
Spearheaded by SPLC, the Freedom Forum Institute and the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Jan. 30 also marks the launch of the “Year of the Student Journalist,” a movement encompassing journalism programs in high schools, community colleges and universities across the nation.
“Interviewing faculty and staff became fraught with go-betweens, forcing writers to chase their sources in circles for the facts,” said Emily Huston, editor-in-chief of City College’s Etc Magazine. “Arranging conversations and scheduling photo shoots on campus – already tasks that require tenacity and persistence – became an even tougher pursuit for access.”
Journalists, students or not, must overcome obstacles while developing a story: the unreturned phone calls and the search for sources as deadlines swiftly march forward. In an age where journalism is subject to intense scrutiny, especially by those in power, it is of utmost importance to support voices that have the platform to hold these powers accountable.
In 1977, California passed Education Code 48907, otherwise known as the Student Free Expression Law. During the 2015-16 academic year, grassroots nonpartisan coalitions, powered by students and other volunteers, started a renewed push for the “New Voices” legislation. These state laws protect the First Amendment press rights of student journalists and prevent retaliation against their advisers and teachers, with bills expected to be introduced in about 10 states this year.
Stay tuned to Newsdesk for additional cases of student press censorship throughout the year. Share your thoughts on social media with the hashtag #StudentPressFreedom and subscribe to The Guardsman newsletter for updates and breaking news.