Daily Sun News Editorial

Students deserve free press


Senate Bill 5064 is still sitting on Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk.

The measure, which extends 1st Amendment rights to student journalists, is long overdue. In the spirit of government transparency and the U.S. Constitution, we believe he should sign it.

The bill rectifies a faulty 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier. In that case, the court ruled, high school educators have editorial control over student publications.

But putting it simply, the 1st Amendment, indeed the entire U.S. Constitution, does not put an age limit on the freedoms it guarantees. And giving young journalists the responsibility that goes along with their effort is a lesson not only in civics and society but in growing up.

The bill, authored by Sen. Joe Fain, an Auburn Republican, would prohibit school officials from censoring student journalists. In other words, the students themselves would be responsible for subject matter and appropriateness. In return, school officials would be held harmless for student work.

That’s a fair tradeoff.

In our state, students make decisions when driving a car and on sexual activity. So they should be able to determine if their stories are appropriate and understand the responsibility for stories they undertake.

We agree that school district employees should be able to provide input and help student journalists. But censorship has no place in any news media, even a high school or university publication.


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