In a society where the constant flow of information often gets lost among the lies and rumors, the job of a journalist has never been more essential. This has been the truth for a while now, especially among the younger generations.
On June 6, 1966, President Robert F. Kennedy, during his address on the Day of Affirmation, claimed that:
“The cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans. It cannot be moved by those who cling to a present which is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement and danger which comes with even the most peaceful progress. The world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. It is a revolutionary world we live in, and… it is young people who must take the lead.”
As Kennedy stated in his address in Cape Town, the younger generation of reporters is the key to overcoming the obstacles of delivering the true horrors that repeatedly plague our planet. Who, today, is better qualified to tell the world the real motives of terrorists, politicians and law enforcements without showing a bias? The younger generation, who mostly grew up with the ideology that they are the change in the world and that they have the power to give a voice to those who don’t have one. Young journalists, who are full of excitement, eagerness and passion for this career.
But how can young and spirited minds have the power to produce change and offer proper raw material to an audience if they are being declined of their rights?
In 1988, journalism students at the Hazelwood high school sued the principal after he censored their articles regarding teen pregnancy and divorce. The U.S District court held that the First Amendment rights of the students were not violated, declaring that “a high school-sponsored newspaper produced as part of a class and without a “policy or practice” establishing it as a public forum for student expression could be censored where school officials demonstrated a reasonable educational justification and where their censorship was viewpoint neutral.”
For aspiring journalists taking part in secondary level publications, this law limits their freedom of speech and teaches students that our job is to always make the government look good, no matter the importance of the news.
Recent protests have arisen around the nation, under the name Cure Hazelwood, in an attempt to revoke a 28 year old decision.
Often referred to as “the infectious disease no one talks about”, Hazelwood prevents students from discussing political and social issues, as well as intimidates them from approaching sensible topics from fear of censorship. Starting in high schools, the case has spread to a number of colleges in the nation as well.
In the recent 25 years, Hazelwood has infected many schools across the country; for example in Texas, a high school cheerleader was disciplined after refusing to cheer for an athlete who later was charged with assaulting her; in Oklahoma, a high school valedictorian was denied her diploma after using the word “hell” in her speech.
Hazelwood is the reason why our citizenship education is going downhill. Hazelwood is the reason people mistrust the media.
Taking action is the only way to combat this national shame that will constantly worsen if left unattended.
It is time to speak up. It is time to take action. It is time to take the lead.
For more information on this growing stand, visit the Student Press Law Center: