Keeping autonomy and reputation


Oct. 27, 2011, 2:47 p.m. | By Claire Sleigh | 8 years, 1 month ago

Blair should continue to recognize importance of free press


Silver Chips' autonomy could be in question because of recent leadership changes at Blair. The new administration has the power to take the school in a new direction, and with this they also have the power to take Silver Chips in a new direction.

As a high school newspaper, it is our privilege but not our explicitly guaranteed right to be free from school control. As our new principal, Ms. Renay Johnson has the ability to request or interfere with Silver Chips prior to publication. Darryl Williams (Principal '08-'11), and Phillip Gainous before him, whose tenure spanned 25 years, chose to operate by the more long-standing, liberal standard that high school publications can operate by because of a precedent established 52 years ago in the Tinker v. Des Moines case.

Our rights as a legitimate newspaper in our school are protected by this precedent only because we operate as an open forum for students expression. Silver Chips is considered a public forum because it accepts no money from the school, has a formal class and has student editors make all content and layout decisions. It is more difficult for administrators to meddle with papers that are public forums, but it is not impossible.

Silver Chips is lucky to have gone 25 years under Gainous's hands-off policy toward the paper, under which Williams also operated. This period of time allowed Silver Chips to develop as a loud mouthpiece for the Blair community.

Hopefully, Johnson will see the benefits of having an independent newspaper. Not only has Silver Chips been nationally recognized as a leading high school newspaper, the publication also provides invaluable services to the school community. Students can keep up-to-date on anything from sports games to county education policies, with a Blair focus can't be found in any other publication. The opportunity to receive and read Silver Chips is available to every student at Blair.

Our status as an independent newspaper allows us to better represent, defend, inform and entertain the Blair community. Our freedom allows us to run stories about illegal or controversial activities - stories about drugs, teenage pregnancy, or partying - that are relevant or of interest to students.

We also do not have to hesitate when writing stories that critique Blair, county and state administrations. These stories range from critical editorials to courageous news coverage, from meaningful and representative features to individual columns.

One of the purposes of media in a democracy is to act as government and institutional watchdog, and while Silver Chips doesn't uncover daily scandals at Blair, we still act as a liaison between students and the faculty, and as an outlet for student opinions.

Especially this year, we have been receptive and encouraging of letters to the editor, in which students, staff and parents can make issues and their opinions known to this extensive community of people. Our unique position in this school is important to maintain, both for us and for the community.

Hopefully the administration for years to come will continue to see the benefits of having an independent and uncensored student newspaper and will continue to support us in our endeavors.



Tags: print

Claire Sleigh. I love crew. Silver Chips should cover it. More »

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