Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

Panther Press

Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

Panther Press

Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

Panther Press

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EDITORIAL: In an age of mistrust, accurate reporting shines

A meta topic for this month’s editorial: student journalism.
Matthew Ramirez ’26
Panther Press staff members meet on Jan. 24. to discuss the February issue.
Student Press Freedom Day 2024 logo, provided by the Student Press Law Center

Maybe you’ve picked up this paper for the crossword. Maybe you were interviewed, or know someone who was.

Whatever your reasons for reading, this student paper was written for you.

It feels like now, more than ever, the news is difficult to watch. Everything feels far away, but close enough to make you wildly uncomfortable.

This is why student journalism exists, to clarify the uncomfortable, and make it relevant to you. First and foremost, The Panther Press is written by students, about students, and for students.

Every teenager is part of the future, and we should get a voice. The stories this paper writes do their best to give that voice to everyone. That’s our commitment as journalists, but also as fellow students. We give the familiarity that national news lacks.

Everyone has a story, and the job of student journalists is to find those stories and share them with others.

We tell the stories that matter to people inside and outside of Strath Haven High School. Feature stories about artists, athletes, and clubs are written because they matter to us, and that’s more than enough.

We’re not perfect, and there’s so much we don’t know about the people here. We don’t know how you hold a job while balancing your schoolwork, we don’t know about the small business you have, and we don’t know about the traditions your teammates have before a game.

We want to learn and tell those stories. That’s why we ask so many questions—as any interviewee for our paper knows. That’s the beauty of journalism. You discover something new every day.

Strath Haven is full of passionate people. We all have something that makes our eyes light up, something that you could talk about forever, something that gets your heart pounding at the mention of it.

Maybe it’s your new art project, a club you started to combat cancer, or in the case of February 13—you just really wanted to rant about how if every other school in the Central League is having a snow day, we should too.

We love to listen. Because the more stories we get out, the easier it is to capture that passion you have and shed light on your perspective.

Student journalism is a camera, and our stories are your pictures, except so much richer, because we talk to at least three sources to get as much variety of opinions as possible.

Without student journalism, those stories would be lost, and that’s simply not fair. Everyone deserves to be seen through this lens of words.

That’s why it’s so important for student journalism to stay active.

If we publish something wrong, we lose trust. We have many layers of rules to keep everything factually correct so that if our writing is questioned, we can defend it.

When we join the paper, we learn how to write for you, but we also learn how to protect each other. It’s a team sport, and we couldn’t create hundred to thousand-word articles without making sure we’re supporting everyone on our staff.

A few of the first things you’ll learn about as a student journalist are two Supreme Court cases.

One: Student journalists everywhere are shielded by the Supreme Court ruling on Tinker v. Des Moines, 1969, where a student, Mary Beth Tinker, came to school wearing a black armband with her friends to protest the Vietnam War- and got suspended for it.

The court ruled in favor of Tinker, most notably declaring, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

Two: Only a handful of years later, in 1983, a student principal removed two articles about divorce and teen pregnancy from Hazelwood East High School’s student newspaper. In that case, 1988 Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, the students lost the battle when the court ruled that it didn’t violate the First Amendment to pull the pieces because the journalism class was an extension of the school and therefore was allowed to be regulated, according to administration guidance.

Tinker and Hazelwood almost directly contradict each other.

We walk a tightrope between Tinker and Hazelwood, uncertain of which one will win out if our story doesn’t make everyone happy, in an age where it feels like society can’t trust any side of opinion except its own.

At Strath Haven, just this past year, The Panther Press has reported on the new high school renovation plans, Pride crosswalks, menstrual products, and the homework pressure on students. After we published, often the topic we wrote about got more attention, and sometimes even tension.

We’re proud of what we write, and as Student Press Freedom Day, February 22, comes to a close, we implore you to just think about the importance of free speech when it comes to student journalism.

We want to write about topics that you, the student, care about, not just topics that the school cares about. Free speech and factual information are not exclusive, and when it comes to journalism, they’re inextricably linked.

Student journalists are taught to exercise their First Amendment rights respectfully, and for that, are the heartbeat of democracy.

The unsigned editorial represents the opinion of the Editorial Board, which consists of the majority of the student editorial staff listed on this page.

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