Student journalists’ right to freedom of speech

The First Amendment ensures that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

In layman’s terms, the First Amendment guarantees citizens their right to speak their mind with the ability to petition against any form of dispute, issue, or injustice. However, in the world of high school journalism, freedom of speech has never felt less free.

The primary goal for any student run news outlet is to keep the school and community updated on current events, breaking news, and any and all upcoming functions throughout the school. Additionally, many high school administrators encourage their newspapers to write articles that showcase the school in a positive light, specifically highlighting the best and brightest.

So what sometimes happens when students want to write about the real issues?


Many journalism classes are school funded. The class time and resources are graciously provided in order to produce a credible news site. Due to administrative contributions, however, many articles regarding controversial topics, city investigations, and school scandals are quickly stopped in their tracks.

Iit is not ethical to deprive student journalists of their voice. Freedom of the Press allows any American citizen to exercise their rights and opinions without fear of repercussions. The Constitution protects free speech and thus should allow journalists to write honest pieces despite their controversial nature.

However, many student journalists aren’t always given the autonomy to do their jobs because some authority figures would prefer to keep unflattering information regarding their private affairs concealed. While student staff writers do not have the jurisdiction to overthrow their administration, their efforts are still limited. Journalists aim to tell the public what they need to know. News is not always meant to be nice or uplifting, but it is meant to be authentic.

There are so many real issues and events happening in the world, in the schools and in the states, that some student journalists just won’t get an opportunity to discuss. Journalists are constantly at risk of losing their funding and are coerced into writing what is socially acceptable. Therefore, many articles are either sugar-coated, manipulated or simply not written at all. PR image should not take higher precedence over basic human rights. Student journalists might not always be treated equally, but that won’t stop them from standing up for what they believe is right… and freedom of speech for student journalists will always be right.