The student newspaper has always been considered an important forum in which to voice student opinions, as well as a training ground for those interested in journalism. In recent years, school newspapers have come under attack for the type of stories and advertisements they print. Do you think there are any circumstances that would warrant an administrator censoring the contents of a student newspaper?
I do not think that there are any circumstances that would warrent an administrator censoring the contents of a student newspaper. A student newspaper should be for the students and, generally, a student on the newspaper staff is going to truly think about what a story is going to be about. He will also put into consideration any conflicts that may arise. Usually, unless it is an editorial, both sides of an issue are presented.
Last year, I worked as the news editor on my school newspaper and the staff did a special publication on abortion. The principal of our school informed us that we couldn't print the story. Thus, after a lot of hard work, we had two blank pages in our paper. The administration made an announcement about the blank pages being due to printing problems; they didn't even tell the truth about their censorship.
It is my belief that everyone has the right to say and print what they believe. It's in the Constitution. KENYA SHORTS Stonewall Jackson
The role of the student newpaper as a forum for students' opinions has become, sadly, a thing of the past. Due to new mandates which allow administrators the right to censor the materials to be printed, student opinions and the extent to which they can be expressed has become greatly restricted.
Being the feature editor for our school newspaper, I have had the opportunity to attend many journalism workshops and meet many other students involved in their school newspapers. I have found that most students who work on newspaper staffs are highly responsible students with good common sense and judgement. We are all instructed in the beginnings of journalism, about what is ethical and proper for a school newspaper. I trust that most of my fellow high school journalists would have the good judgement to present possible controversial issues in a sensitive manner.
If more trust were placed in the newspaper staff, censorship by administrators would not be necessary. In those rare cases where unresponsible journalists actually printed a story that was considered in poor taste by society in general, than perhaps a censorship plan might have to be implemented, however until then, don't restrict us from developing our voices. MELANIE CORBIN Potomac
In allowing students the right to write and publish a school newspaper, certain intrinsic responsibilities are also allotted them. Their responsibilities, like those of their professional counterparts, should stem from First Amendment rights and be limited by restrictions accepted in the world of journalism.
Printing profanity, discriminatory statements or defamation are not tolerable; yet when the boundaries of tolerance are unclear, the students themselves both need the responsibility of self-censorship. If the purpose of a school newspaper is to mimic professional publications, why should an administrator be granted the ability to curb school publications' freedoms when it is the task of an editor or -- in extreme cases -- the voice of the public to do so?
Accompanying this right of censorship is the placing of the central responsibility on the students. When they are able to make educated decisions on what subjects are acceptable for their audience, they also gain the job of defending these decisions. Perhaps their actions will be shadowed by an advisor or teacher, but the responsibility would remain theirs. In allowing school administrators to be the ultimate censors, the objective of a school newspaper is lost.
A second deterrent to the objectives of a school newspaper lies in the censorship of advertisements, the very means of support for any publication. To some, the publication of advertisements deemed immoral is detrimental to the student body. For example, the printing of an ad for a homosexual hotline/support group is mercilessly attacked. The objectives of a newspaper of any size or circulation is not only to relay news to its audience, but also to inform without prejudice. Yet adversaries may argue that advertisements from minority groups and socially taboo movements do not belong in a student paper. In doing this, they would foster an unrealistic, sheltered worldview for students. How then can today's youth be damned when they are unable to survive in the "real world," where less acceptable facts of life are just as pertinent as those which are universally sanctioned?
In severely limiting the rights and responsibilities of a student newspaper, its purpose is demolished and the audience led blind-folded past conceivably harsh realities. ALYSSA MUELLER Osbourn Park
Student journalist and school newspapers should have guidelines no different from those followed by major newspapers. A school newspaper should give students interested in becoming journalists a chance to experience the real aspects of journalism.
When school newspapers are restricted, students aren't able to express themselves and voice their opinions thoroughly.
The only time the administration should have censoring control on a student newspaper is in the case of printing false information or libel. Student journalists should be given the right to print the truth, regardless of how "hard" the facts may be.
We are guaranteed the freedoms of speech and press in the Constitution. If student publications are censored, then the Constitution's promises mean nothing.
Students should be granted the responsibility and liberty to make decisions as to the content of the newspaper. These students will soon head the nation's newspapers and will have to make those decisions using their own judgement. MEGAN COTNER Woodbridge Students Speak Out:
This issue concludes the "Students Speak Out:" column for the 1989-90 academic year. The column will resume with more High School Honors in October.
To comment or to suggest topics for future columns, please write: Weekly High School Honors The Washington Post 1150 15th St. NW Washington, D.C. 20071