Editorial: First Amendment rights should apply to student journalists


Editorial Board

Feb. 24 marks the 50th anniversary of Tinker vs. Des Moines decision. This case, a turning point for student reporters, decided that First Amendment rights still apply on to students on school grounds.

The First Amendment protects U.S. citizens’ basic rights to freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.

Freedom of speech and of the press is a right that is supposed to be guaranteed to all U.S. citizens. The only speech not protected by the First Amendment is incitement, threats, and false statements.

And yet student journalists still find themselves, time and time again, silenced, and their stories censored.  

Student reporters are expected by both their advisers and their peers to only report the truth. If their reporting is not slander or something they know to be false, it should be allowed to be published without a principal’s approval. Student reporters should be given equal rights to freedom of speech and press as their adult counterparts.

LB206, The “New Voices” bill, introduced for the second time in Nebraska by Sen. Adam Morfeld, would allow student journalists to report the truth without administrative censorship. If passed, it would cost nothing, but be worth generations of new voices. The bill will give student journalists and advisers the First Amendment protections necessary for responsible journalism.