Editorial: Reporting without restraint, but with care and accuracy

Editorial Board


As our staff reflects on the importance of scholastic journalism in the wake of the JEA’s National Scholastic Journalism Week, we wanted to take this moment to appreciate the press rights our newspaper has enjoyed over the 77 years Tower has served the Masters community. 

Our appreciation for our ability to exercise these freedoms is only extended by our recognition that in recent years high school publications across the country have been under siege more than ever by administrators forcing prior review and restraint. At numerous private schools, administrators read and approve all materials before publication in student newspapers. That is not the case for Tower. We feel very fortunate to have earned the trust of the administration as an accurate, unbiased student forum for our school community. 

Press freedom is a fundamental right in the United States. And, while independent school newspapers may not enjoy the same legal rights as public schools, or other institutions of scholastic journalism in the public domain, Tower is proud to maintain our fundamental journalistic freedoms: the freedom to serve as a student-run forum for the community of the school, the freedom to report accurately––even if at times critically–– about the school, and the freedom to write without prior review or restraint from the administration.

The freedom to write without prior review or restraint, specifically, is a cornerstone of what makes Tower the successful publication it has become. Our staff is proud and grateful that the administration recognizes the danger to press freedom in prior review and restraint – as well as the educational value of allowing student journalists to make tough editorial decisions. It is important that students are able to think critically about all sides of an important school issue and prior review and restraint can eliminate what Freedom Forum Chairman Al Neuharth called “a means to exchange ideas, raise issues, and even promote controversy.” 

Neuharth, leading an organization that supports free speech and newspapers, said schools are “better for having a vehicle of expression, a means to exchange ideas, to raise issues, and even to promote controversy.”

We wholeheartedly agree. We also stand firmly in agreement with the Journalism Educators of America, an organization that argues that prior review by administrators “undermines critical thinking, encourages students to dismiss the role of a free press in society and provides no greater likelihood of increased quality of student media.” 

The school’s mission asks students to learn, to do, to strive, to dare and be powers for good in the world. We are proud that Tower is a place where students can do all of those things. While Tower is a part of The Masters School, we understand and appreciate the firewall that exists between our student-run newspaper and the administration. We have earned the trust that allows us to cover issues in an unbiased manner without the school administration asking to make editorial decisions. This trust is what motivates us as a publication to be the best we can be. We humbly acknowledge, and cherish the fact that  that there is always more work to do, and we will continue to strive to grow and improve as a newspaper. As we do so, our journalistic integrity will remain as a top priority for our publication.