Student Journalism Upheld

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Notch one up for student journalism.

Today, the Iowa Court of Appeals sided with a high school journalism teacher saying that he was unfairly reprimanded for allowing alleged inappropriate articles in the school newspaper.

The court cited the Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier in their decision.

In April of 2008, the Waukon Senior High School Tribe-une distributed an April Fool's edition that consisted of various parody articles. In August of that same year, the principal of Waukon Senior High School issued a reprimand to Ben Lange, the faculty advisor for the newspaper, saying that the newspaper had "numerous inappropriate text, comments, and articles."

The newspaper obviously functioned as a parody, containing articles such as "Meth Lab Found in Biology Lab" and "Cheerleaders on 'Roids." Each page also had the disclaimer: "This issue is a parody created in celebration of All Fools' Day. It contains no factual information."

A few months later, Lange and the newspaper were under fire again after the principal issued another formal reprimand. He stated that the September 30, 2009 issue contained "numerous inappropriate and questionable text, comment, pictures, and articles... people within our school are offended by this edition."

Lange was suspended for two days without pay. In January 2010, Lange took the issue to court.

This case is a good thing for student journalism and journalism in general as First Amendment rights are held up and students' free speech rights are protected.


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