Staff Ed: The New Voices of Minnesota movement would make must-needed changes to school newspapers

The Knight Errant staff is grateful to the BSM administration for its freedoms and wishes the same for public schools.

The New Voices of Minnesota movement has been gaining increasingly more attention in the new year, despite legislation for a New Voices bill having previously died in June 2018. The New Voices of Minnesota is a movement which aims to grant student journalists the freedom to report truthful news to the public. As of now, student journalists in the state of Minnesota have no extra protections guaranteed by state law, meaning school newspapers are vulnerable to censorship. Student journalists and their advisers have no legal protection against retaliation on the behalf of the administration for reporting the truth. Currently, only 15 states have passed New Voices legislation since 1977.

While the BSM Knight Errant is appreciative of the freedoms which have been granted to us by the BSM administration, we are also in support of a law that would protect student journalists across the state from administrative censorship.

One of the main reasons school administrations censor their newspapers is to keep student journalists from publishing news that may be potentially harmful to the school’s image. For instance, if a student wants to write a story on teacher misconduct, the administration has the power to pull the story and prevent it from being published, even if the incident was public knowledge. Of course, stories like this don’t necessarily qualify as “good publicity” for a school. However, choosing to censor a story simply because the truth is not in the school’s favor is an obstruction of journalistic integrity, and is, no doubt, an abuse of the administration’s power.

We believe a school that allows their students to publish factual stories at the risk of their own reputation is at least a school whose values you can trust. A school that puts truth, integrity, and the creative rights of their students above their own self-interest has more to show than a school that doesn’t.

Choosing to censor a story simply because the truth is not in the school’s favor is an obstruction of journalistic integrity, and is, no doubt, an abuse of the administration’s power.”

As a private school, BSM isn’t obligated to follow the same laws regarding the freedom of speech as public schools. Nonetheless, the BSM administration has not only been supportive of the Knight Errant’s coverage of the school but also cooperative when it comes to interviews and providing information that may be useful for an article. The administration’s support has allowed the Knight Errant to become a well-rounded, award-winning publication and news source, and we are very grateful for the encouragement they continue to give to us.

School newspapers are meant to teach our nation’s future journalists about the importance of truthful reporting, and school administrations should foster these values by granting their papers the freedom to report free of censorship as long as the newspaper is reporting ethically. We believe the BSM administration has done an excellent job of allowing the Knight Errant to report on a variety of topics around the school, and we would like to see similar freedoms granted to our fellow student journalists at other schools through the New Voices legislation.