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Editorial: Our unfiltered, uncensored voice

While tough and controversial topics may arise on VSU campus, The Spectator editors and reporters strive to be bold journalists and bravely advocate for our rights to ensure our campus is informed.

This year, Feb. 23 is Student Freedom Press Day, a national day that raises awareness of student journalists’ work, highlights the censorship that students face and empowers those journalists to restore their First Amendment Freedoms.

This day of action was created by the Student Press Law Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, and its 2023 theme is “Bold Journalism and Brave Advocacy.”

According to the Student Press Freedom Day website, bold journalists ensure that important and controversial events are covered accurately, ethically and effectively amid pushback from campus administrations. They expose wrongdoings, ensure transparency and accountability of their institution, amplify historically excluded voices and fill important roles in the shrinking media ecosystem.

The website also defines “Brave Advocacy” as student journalists standing up to pressure, criticism and censorship; advocating for stories to be published; speaking confidently in support of their rights, knowing their rights and ensuring their officials adhere to those rights.

While newspapers and journalism might be seen as dying artforms, it is still prevalent and important to spreading news. The social media creators that spread awareness on current events, pop culture and drama might not claim to be journalists, but they are still doing the job.

It is important for the younger generations to be knowledgeable and take control of the world around them and the actions that are being done. They are already being highlighted for the work they have done in being progressive and standing up for what they believe in, and student journalists are key to helping their peers understand what is happening.

Student journalists are not awarded the same amount of allowance as professional journalists. We face potential censorship from administration and threats of decrease in funding.

In the 1988 the court case of Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier the Supreme Court sided with the Hazelwood East High School principal in censoring articles published in the school newspaper that covered teen pregnancy and divorce. The defining factor in the case was that First Amendment rights were not violated because the school funded the newspaper and so the school had the right to censor material that may harm the school’s reputation.

Only 13 states have anti-Hazelwood laws, and Georgia is not one of them.

While the case centered on student journalism in a high school setting, this case also affects college journalists. Censorship affects not only student journalists’ output but also their learning environment. When allowed more freedom in the professional setting, previous student journalists may fall victim to self-censorship.

Student journalists also have less equipment and are often granted less access to documents and reports from police and authorities, though their reporting is no less important.

However, in the face of threatened censorship and less access, The Spectator continues to provide important stories to our campus.

Although administrators and some faculty have become reluctant to share information or speak freely on controversial topics, we work to be bold, to discover the truth and to report our findings for our fellow students.

From researching campus buildings named for historically problematic figures to calling out free speech violations, we are not afraid to speak out on important topics that surround our campus.

Like The Spectator logo states, we are the unfiltered, uncensored voice of the students, and we will continue to be that no matter the walls that might be constructed to try and stop us.

We hope that all VSU students know that our ears and eyes are open to the events that transpire, and we will always make sure you can count on us to be aware of them too.

This editorial reflects the general opinion of The Spectator.

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