Freedoms: Tasty With Ketchup

Commenter Docsent this over yesterday:

Chicago, Ill. – High school students who blog, who read online news sources and who chat online regularly are more likely to understand and support their First Amendment rights, according to a new book based on the largest survey conducted on the subject.

Kenneth Dautrich and David Yalof, authors of Future of the First Amendment: The Digital Media, Civic Education and Free Expression Rights in the Nation’s High Schools, presented the key findings at a launch of the book during the Unity ’08 journalism convention.

The book is based on the Future of the First Amendment surveys the authors conducted on behalf of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The initial 2004 survey, the first of its kind for high school students, found that three-fourths of U.S. teens surveyed don’t know or don’t care about the First Amendment. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, of assembly and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I thought of it while readingthis:

Let us explain the situation our reporters are encountering: These people, mainly administrators, aren’t talking to us. Therefore, we can’t interview them. Without interviews, we can’t quote them in our stories. Here’s why:

At the beginning of the school year, our newly developed projects desk started asking for documents from university officials.

Let’s just say our administration wasn’t too happy with us asking for documents, and soon some of the most important voices on campus received an e-mail from Susan Poser, associate to the chancellor, telling them that Perlman said to not answer any questions or look into any inquiries or requests for documents from journalists working at the Daily Nebraskan.

The e-mail was sent one day after we met with Kelly Bartling, university spokeswoman and manager of news for University Communications, to address her and Poser’s concerns about why we were requesting these documents.

Our answer: Because it’s our right.

The documents we’ve requested are public records by all legal standards, and the press has the right – just as our readers and other citizens do – to see these documents. From the behavior of the administrators, they seem to see things differently.

Because here again is some stuff we talk about all the time: access, excuses, and the need for reporters to stand up for themselves in the face of authoritative obfuscation lest their critics be the only ones doing the talking. Imagine where we’d be right now if our supposedly adult political press had the same willingness to explain how it was lied to in the past eight years and exactly why. You’ll notice comments at the end of this accusing the kids of whining; that’s typical. How dare you explain to your readers why the people whose salaries they pay aren’t talking to them! How dare you point out how stupid and shortsighted it is! Shut up and take it and give me my change!

It’s not surprising to me that young people who are engaged in the world are more likely to understand and value their rights; what’s surprising to me is how often in the so-called professional world that understanding takes a back seat to being invited to the right parties. I hope the kids at the Daily Nebraskan don’t get their fire beaten out of them; they’ll need it, if only to inspire journalists twice their ages to do their damn jobs.


2 thoughts on “Freedoms: Tasty With Ketchup

  1. I think what is more remarkable is that the UNL, like my own Iowa university, is a fairly conservative student campus, and the newspaper certainly has reflected that in the past. The journalists for the student newspaper aren’t flaming liberals out to put gay rights on the front page every day, or spin controversies in favor of Democratic positions or left-wing solutions. For the most part, they’re going to report what the Administration tells them and do it with little confrontation or investigation.
    And *they’re* frustrated and upset that the administration of the University has clammed up?
    That’s almost like the Husker Nation to suddenly start singing The Internationale during halftime.

  2. but republicans keep telling us that anyone asking questions is a troublemaker …
    i guess these people don’t balance their checking accounts either, because it would be insulting to question whether the bank is correctly recording the account activity.

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