I read with interest the St. Petersburg Timesâ story on Hillsborough High principal William Orrâs censorship of the student newspaper, The Red and Black. As a former rabble-rouser in my own high school paper, The Challenger, I take interest in perceived threats to student journalistsâ freedom.
Last week, I interviewed the two candidates for the Hillsborough County School Board. One of my questions asked how the candidate felt about administrative censorship of high school newspapers, since these issues occasionally make their way to school board meetings.
April Griffin, whose candidacy is defined by her own anti-establishment perspective, told me teachers should âguideâ students, but not censor them. âI raised my children to challenge the establishment,â she said, adding she always stressed, âbe respectful.â
Ken Allen, who acted as âpublisherâ of Armwood Highâs student newspaper, claimed he never proofed the newspaper before it went to print. Perhaps itâs Allenâs past foray into journalism (he earned his bachelorâs in English/Journalism education) that led him to these wise words: âIt was very important to instill with these students who work with the paper a responsibility to press freedom,â he said. âInstruct them [in proper ethics] before you have a problem.â
âYouâve got to give student writers the liberty to be creative,â he continued. âIf they work in an environment where they arenât censored, they wonât feel they need to [cross the line].â
â Alex Pickett