Advisers and Editors Center
Newspaper Rights and Responsibilities for Students
When it comes to a school newspaper, students should have some basic rights and accept certain responsibilities that come along with these rights.
A student newspaper should not be from the perspective from the administration and faculty of the school. It should be the voice of the student body. The students, therefore, should have the freedom to write about the things that are most important to them.
More than that, the newspaper needs to allow students to be expressive and creative all at the same time. So there needs to be an implicit set of rights that accompany this freedom, while at the same time, an acceptance of the responsibilities that come with these rights.
Right to Report the News
This is, of course, the basic premise of a school newspaper and a newspaper club. With modern technology, many things get posted on social media quicker than they can be placed in a newspaper, making some aspects of reporting irrelevant—but only if you believe that everything posted on social media has been checked, validated, and researched.
This is where the power of a newspaper comes into play and why students need to have the right to report school news. Obviously, some things cannot be printed if they disrupt school operations or are merely rumor, but good reporting should never report rumor or gossip anyway.
Right to Editorialize
By this, students should be able to express their opinions. This doesn’t mean that they have the right to say anything, but that they can, in a respectful manner, give their opinions even when those opinions may not be universally accepted. Outside of defamation, vulgarity, and obscenity students should be able to give their opinions.
Right to Print Distasteful Material
Again, students shouldn’t have the right to print vulgarity or obscenity, but to print material that school officials, for example, might disagree with or find a bit distasteful. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right of our society and should not be suspended, but encouraged.
School officials should be careful of censoring material based solely on their personal disagreement with it. Unless it will disrupt school operations, is inappropriate, or has not been validated (rumor and gossip), then it should be allowed to be printed.
Responsible for Taking Guidance
The role of the teacher adviser is probably the single most important key to keeping a school newspaper going or a newspaper club active. Take away the teacher adviser and there would not be an allowable platform for a school newspaper.
Students should heed the advice of their adviser and seek to ensure that he or she is aware of all that the students are doing in regards to the newspaper.
Responsible for Adhering to the Rules
The rules of responsible journalism are important. Students have the responsibility to print material that is presented correctly. Ignoring the rules can have a devastating effect. In the world of journalism, journalists who ignore these rules have been fired and even imprisoned for what they’ve printed. This isn’t a matter of free speech, this is a matter of presenting truth—as best you can.
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