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Journalists, lawyers share importance of First Amendment

Everyday journalists put into practice their First Amendment rights. Specifically, they implement the freedom of speech and press.

Using information from the SPLC, consider participating in Student Press Freedom Day, Jan. 29.

The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) is an organization that provides help to students, upholding their title as reporters in the journalism world, including the importance of Student Press Freedom Day, Jan. 29.

For the last 46 years, their main mission has consisted of providing information and assistance in the work of students lives.

Student Press Freedom Day, created by the SPLC, represents a day to acknowledge our rights as not only journalists but Americans as well. This day is marked by the 1988 case of Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier. The case regarding this ruled schools to obtain power limiting student expression in secondary schools.

Sommer Ingram Dean started her work with the Student Press Law Center as an intern in 2010. Coming on board as a staff member officially in 2018, Dean shares on the purpose of Student Press Freedom Day.

“Student Press Freedom Day is an important opportunity to highlight both the contributions of student journalists and the struggles they face day-to-day when attempting to do their jobs,” Dean said. “Student journalists play a crucial role in our society. Too often, these student journalists have been censored by school administrators worried about the image of the school.”

Diana Mitsu Klosis, Director of Engagement at the Student Press Law Center, previously worked as a reporter, city editor and managing editor for daily news organizations in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York.

Klosis shares on the positivity and discouragement student writers face when they use technology to discuss the issues.

“While there are many positives to social media and emerging technologies,” Klosis said, “the downsides are the rapid spread of disinformation, purposeful distortion of the truth and manipulation of facts. That is the antithesis of quality journalism. The work of student journalists is part of the solution.”

Kyle Clem, ’21, shares on the perspective of being a young journalist. This is Clem’s second year on the Feather staff.

“Being young I would say I definitely have had a situation where I was looked down because of an opinion,” Clem said. “In a world that’s full of opinions and has access to so many forums to express that and potentially influence others, it’s easy to have people criticize you for your opinions and express the stereotype of being uneducated. The society has began to take their opinions to social media and spread uninformed and underdeveloped thoughts to the world at the click of a button.”

Paige Provost | The Feather Online

The Feather Online uses various facets of journalism, such as video, photo and writing, to report on and tell stories from the Fresno community.

Clem has attended Fresno Christian since 2nd grade. He continues sharing on the difference of journalism expectation of attending a private story rather than a public.

“I think that there is a certain sense of expectations between the two because our opinions tend to differ very strongly from the opinions of those at public school,” Clem said. “While other public schools handle topics that are dealt with quite regularly and frequently, as a private school, those issues aren’t experienced as widely and as frequently here. As a journalist, there is a fine line to stay between when handling topics prevalent elsewhere and also here.”

The theme this year of Student Press Freedom Day is “This is what student press freedom looks like”. Everyone is welcomed to participate, not only journalists.

Simple ways to become involved include: creating a photo essay, an open column piece, campaigns and making bracelets or other clothing.

The tweet below posted by the Student Press Law Center shows ways to help journalists and students engage and inform themselves about Student Press Freedom Day.

Hadar Harris joined the SPLC staff in 2017 as a human rights attorney and non-profit leader, Harris moved up to as an executive director on staff. Harris shares on past Student Press Day festivities.

“In years past on Student Press Freedom Day,” Harris said, “student news organizations have published editorials and articles about the need to protect and preserve press freedom for student journalists, and have held events (including speakers, rallies and educational opportunities) in their home communities.”

Junior Faith Monroy interviews Brennen Tozlian, ’21, about the importance of the freedom of speech. Tozlian shares on his perspective and importance on sharing his voice on campus.

With Student Freedom Press Day running for three years now, Harris continues to share the goals and improvements for this year.

“This year we are seeking to significantly raise the profile of Student Press Freedom Day,” Harris said. “Student news organizations around the country are planning major events and SPLC is partnering with the National Archives (where the Constitution and First Amendment actually sit) to have an event discussing new visions of press freedom with student journalists from around the country. The event is free and open to the public and will be live streamed.”

The National Archives resides in Washington D.C. The building holds documents containing past information of U.S. documents and materials. Free admission is presented for visitors. However, if wanting a reservation, a $1 fee will be charged online.

More information on the Student Press Law Center and Student Press Freedom Day can be found on their website

Share why the First Amendment and student voices are important to you on social media or in the comment section below. Use #studentpressfreedom, #thefeather and tag @SPLC.

For another article featuring the SPLC, read New Voices legislation seeks to restore student journalist rights and Year of the Student Journalist concludes, young voices speak out.

For another article from news, read Australia residents suffer amidst bushfire season, native wildlife perishes and Gen. John F. Kelly speaks at SJV Town Hall about drug epidemic, time in White House.

Faith Monroy can be reached via Twitter.

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