Newspaper students more likely to affirm free speech rights

By | May 3, 2014

According to the 2008 book The Future of the First Amendment, students involved in the production of high school newspapers are more likely than their peers who are not on the newspaper staff to affirm the protection of free expression rights.

This study involved nearly 14,500 students from 37 high schools, which were randomly selected from schools across the United States. The study was funded by the Knight Foundation and conducted by Kenneth Dautrich and David Yalof of the University of Connecticut.

This research found that newspaper students were more likely than non-newspapers students to agree that the First Amendment protects potentially offensive forms of expression, including vulgar music lyrics and the defacing or burning of the American flag.

Newspaper students also were more likely than non-newspaper students to support a free press and the right of high school journalists to cover “controversial issues” without administrative approval. They were more likely to agree that Americans do not value their First Amendment rights enough.

Finally, newspapers student were more likely to express interest in “following the news or current events.”

Source: Kenneth Dautrich, David A. Yalof, and Mark Hugo Lopez, The Future of the First Amendment: The Digital Media, Civic Education, and Free Expression Rights in America’s High Schools (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008).