#StudentPressFreedom: Press freedom is freedom for us all


Nishant Medicharla

The Sidekick staff writer Akansha Singh thinks a free student press is important for local communities and their campuses. Singh commemorates Student Press Freedom Day and hopes others recognize the importance of student journalists. Photo illustration by Nishant Medicharla

Akansha Singh, Staff Writer

Freedom of the press, hailed as “one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty” in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, is not only a founding tenet of our country, but also a principle by which we guide our society.

Today, on Student Press Freedom Day, it is essential that we recognize the importance of student journalism in informing our communities and providing the next generation with an appreciation for the role journalism plays in society – and why exactly we must protect a free press.

A free press is key to a free society. We’ve come to hear the term “fake news” thrown around frequently, oftentimes with regard to credible publications. There is an increasing hostility towards news that may be unfavorable towards one’s personal opinions.

But journalists stand for the truth – and truth matters. Truth is how we hold our society accountable to the standards we expect of it. Freedom to tell and spread the truth is the only means by which we can hope to preserve our fundamental rights and critical thinking.

That is why it is so crucial to preserve a free press, guaranteed by our First Amendment. It starts with fostering student journalism. In a school of more than 3,000 students, there are stories to be told. In the greater community, there are many more.

Based on the precedent of the Supreme Court decision Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, student publications could be censored if deemed necessary by the school they’re associated with. 14 states, however, have passed New Voices bills to expand student press freedoms. Texas has not yet done so, but there is grassroots support for passage of such a bill.

As a student journalist, I take great pride in being able to tell the stories of our community and explore aspects of my generation in a changing society. I take great pride in belonging to an organization that can oftentimes be the first contact for our my peers to gain information – one that is the closest access to a news source our students have.

I’ve been able to tell stories of perseverance and determination, concerns for the future, and hope for progress. I believe journalism provides the facts and forum for discussion that is so necessary in our world of polarization and confusion.

Without a free press, we are left in the dark. Without a free student press, we don’t have a match to light a spark.

Follow Akansha (@akanshas120) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.