Allowing high school students freedom of the press privileges teaches young journalism students how to pursue pieces of interest to their readership, District Administration reports. As of early 2019, these rights are protected for students by "New Voices" laws in 14 states.
Letting students express themselves in the press, rather than stifling their voices, can lead to better school culture, the article says, as a well-taught student reporter using non-biased facts helps dispel rumors caused by the spread of misinformation.
Administrators can squash freedom of speech when they become overly concerned about a school or district’s image, and attempts to block stories can often backfire.
High school journalism introduces students to the concept of reading news that is of interest to them and sometimes controversial. School newspapers help students develop the soft skills they will need to navigate adult news later in life and that have become increasingly important in the digital age.
Massachusetts journalism teacher David Cutler says his students gain most of their reporting experience from going out into the world and just doing it. He instills in them the importance of accuracy and objectivity. After explaining the nut and bolts of news writing, Cutler lets his students run the newsroom themselves.
Student newspapers teach students the value of collaboration and communication, two skills they will use throughout their careers, regardless of whether they ever work in a professional newsroom. The courses teach students how to navigate potentially sticky situations with administrators. Newspaper production also teaches students financial skills by selling advertising to cover publishing costs.