Student journalists provide an essential service and should be allowed to work regardless of campus closures, three organizations asserted this week in separate letters to school administrators.
Issues like censorship and payment for student work always exist, said Hadar Harris, the Student Press Law Center’s executive director. “But we had a hunch, based on working with student journalists every day, those same issues were going to be heightened and there could be very significant challenges as campuses closed and as all work was going remote.”
An early call to the
, for example, sought advice after an administrator told a high school yearbook staff it could not cover anything related to coronavirus in this year’s edition. “It’s the framing narrative of their year,” Harris said. “This is the story. And for an administrator to say they couldn’t report on it gave us an indication that this was not going to go particularly smoothly.”
As spring breaks come to an end, Hadar said, “we are just starting to see the impact of this on student journalists and their programs right now.”