The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Universities censor at cost of free speech

Unfortunately, many colleges and universities have editorial policies in place to help mold and shape their school newspapers.

They also aid in avoiding controversial and detrimental opinions or stories from being printed.

This type of policy may even prevent a publication from being politically opinionated.

While having an editorial policy for a college newspaper can provide a certain level of journalistic dignity and respect, it can also be very dangerous. Editorial policies have the power to produce an unnatural level of compromise in content.

However, if a policy is made by a University and that is not in conjunction with its students, then it is already birthed from a bias. The dangers of editorial policies seem much greater than the dangers of the written word.

Though editorial policies are widely practiced and enforced, can a student who seeks the freedoms of press and speech fully back such restrictive guidelines? What makes a good editorial policy? Is it one that shares the same views as the editors and staff writers? Or is it one that accepts all opinions, regardless? Are editorial policies crossing the lines of censorship?

Perhaps these policies are in place to make sure a paper is not slanted too far left or right. However, a paper drifting one way or another is not such a bad thing. Maybe it can involve more students.

However, editorial policies like that of the Chicago’s Governor’s State University paper, The Innovator, for example, can really prohibit creative and intellectual freedom.

The editorial policy prevalent in Governor’s State caused a Supreme Court hearing after students were ordered to stop publication of the paper because of their opinions on the administration.

While the court is still wrestling with this case after five years, the paper has been discontinued for several years.

Is this really the solution? Should we remain quiet in an effort to avoid stepping on some toes?

If the Supreme Court can get behind the students, then maybe universities should strive to support the First Amendment as well.

After all, is there anything worth saying if it cannot be said with absolute freedom?

It is critical that anyone in the media truly examines these policies and always makes sure that our freedom of speech and freedom of press is never in jeopardy.

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