Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Critical Thinking: J-School Students and Industry Vets Tackle the Tough Questions

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Critical Thinking: J-School Students and Industry Vets Tackle the Tough Questions

Article excerpt

Q: To what extent should administrators of public universities have the right to censor student newspapers that receive funding as part of their university affiliation?

A: At The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech. Last I checked, student journalists were not excluded from that. However, the sad reality student journalists at non-independent publications must face is that universities have obtained the right to exercise censorship and prior restraint, because they are the newspaper's primary source of revenue. But this does not mean students should tolerate it.

As a former editor of Boston University's independent newspaper, The Daily Free Press, I firmly believe that independence as a college publication is vital to its existence. If a publication is not independent, the only real thing that can be done to battle censorship is to fight for your paper's right to publish. Though funding is what fuels newspaper revenue, there are always alternative ways to increase funding without decreasing coverage.

Similarly, regardless of who or what is funding a publication, providing full coverage to readers should remain a priority for all journalists, even student journalists. Reporters should not creep around the truth to please anyone, especially if it means hiding important news from readers. This journalistic value is even more important to follow in the 21st century, a time when people can easily look to blogs that publish whatever falsehoods they want without risking libel suits. Now, because people look to newspapers for their credibility, it is an injustice to censor stories of any kind.

When administrators make decisions on behalf of school newspapers, it is as if they forget the First Amendment even exists. However, it's not up to the administrators to determine a journalist's right. It is the role of a journalist to cover everything and anything newsworthy--and to sacrifice that, means sacrificing the credibility and value of a newspaper.

Saba Hamedy, 21

senior, Boston University

Hamedy is double majoring in journalism and political science. She was editor-in-chief of the independent B.U. student newspaper The Daily Free Press in fall 2011. She has held internships at The Christian Science Monitor, The Worcester (Mass. …

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