WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Student Reporters Fight Censorship (And Win)

Dec 12, 2018

The Student Press Law Center reported that an Arkansas school district censored a high school student newspaper and halted its publication after the paper's reporters raised questions about the transfer of six football players to a rival high school.  The district eventually bowed to public pressure and criticism from journalism organizations and allowed the story to be published.

Shop Talk panelist Rich Egger said it seems every time a school tries to censor reporters to protect its image, the school instead ends up tarnishing its image.  He said administrators who try to spike stories end up creating more publicity for those stories and prolong the life of those reports.

Egger also praised the great journalism done by the students.

Panelist Will Buss is also impressed with the research and reporting done by the high schoolers.  And he said the reporters gained valuable experience through their battle with the administration.

Buss said some administrators must think they’re above the law and, in some cases, they engage in intimidation.  He’s glad the student reporters held their ground.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said she’s familiar with the high school in Arkansas because its student journalists have been doing great video work for a number of years.  She is thoroughly impressed with their writing and reporting. She said the school has a good group of students and teachers.

Crighton said laws that are in place to prevent censorship don’t seem to stop some governments from trying to do the wrong thing. She said journalists will hold governments accountable when they ignore the rules.

Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.