Censorship of the press has been such a heated topic for so many years that by now you would think people would know not to ineterfere with press rights.
Evidently, this isn’t the case.
The power of the press is prominent and undeniable. One journalist’s investigation can stir so much controversy and change so many lives that it’s no wonder authoritative figures try to discourage journalistic initiative and maneuver the press to suit their own needs.
The mistreatment of a journalist reporting on a mind-boggling, career-threatening story isn’t what has us so hot and bothered.
It’s the treatment of student journalists that has left us more than a little frustrated.
Tornado T.V. has only been around for two years, but during this short period of time, the 10-member staff has managed to put together shows that rival schools with staffs three times as large.
The feature stories are of quality and appeal to wide audiences, while the weekly Morning Edition manages to inform students of important upcoming events in a fun, refreshing way.
We thank district officials for granting us air time so the community at large can see the good work that goes on at our school. However, it’s very difficult to produce quality work when student reporters frequently face red tape and somewhat inappropriate interruptions of censorship.
Of the five programs submitted to the district to air, three of them had content that were deemed questionable as to how the segments would appear to the general public.
The most recent episode contained two pieces that were censored. One was about Praise Night, the annual event that all high school Christian Club members attend. It was a positive piece showing how some students do care about religion.
The other objectionable segment showed how uninformed students are about the presidential election. It was jaw-dropping to see how few students had no idea that our Vice President was no longer Dick Cheney or how many students couldn’t name a Republican candidate. It was not meant to show how “dumb” Hoover students are; rather, illuminate how much people in general do not know.
This approach is not new. Earlier this year, Fox Nation featured a segment about students and U.S. politics. When asked questions like “who is the U.S. Vice President,” students gave answers like “that bald guy,” “Bill Clinton,” and even “Osama Bin Laden.”
According to a 2008 USA Today article, only 50 percent of U.S. adults could name all three branches of government.
We speak for high school journalists everywhere when we say this: censoring the press is wrong no matter how small or how big the news establishment may be.
People don’t take high school newspapers seriously because we don’t carry a big name, and as high school students, we aren’t expected to report on issues that delve any deeper than Perez Hilton’s gossip site.
Many of the topics that student journalists focus on are of local as well as national importance, but rather than being commended for that, student journalists have to constantly be on their toes if authority figures feel that the issues being reported on don’t put the authority in a good light.
News flash. The press wasn’t created for propaganda, despite the fact that it is often abused in that way. Our jobs as reporters aren’t to only report “happy news” that falsely lead people to believe that everything is “super” and “a-okay.” District workers and other high ranking officials should take reports like ours seriously, and do something to change the very issues that have the potential to make them look bad.
For high school students in journalism, publishing a newspaper and producing a TV program are forms of expression. If art students are encouraged to express themselves, as evident by our large Visual and Performing Arts program, then we kindly request we be given that same right to exercise freedom of speech and expression.