Commentary

High School Paper Fights Censorship, Moves Online

There's been a lot of talk about how the Web has disrupted traditional media, especially newspapers that used to have monopolies in print.  

But, for all the business trauma suffered by newspapers, the Internet also has given writers the ability to publish articles that otherwise might have never seen the light of day.

The latest example comes from Fairbault, Minnesota, where local high school students have taken their newspaper online in response to censorship by the school district, according to The Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Last month, the school superintendent reportedly ordered the student paper shut down after students refused to allow him to review an article about a teacher in advance.

When the company School Newspapers Online learned of the dispute, it offered to host a Web version of the paper at no charge.

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The papers' editor told the Star Tribune that migrating online will not only allow the students to continue publishing, but will let them do so at a faster pace than in the past, when the print version came out only once a month.

The incident is just one example of how the Web has enabled countless people -- professional journalists as well as unpaid writers -- to reach audiences they might not otherwise find.

Given the critical importance of the Web, it's somewhat astounding that some online journalists still have to fight to prove legitimacy. In New York, the police department just settled a lawsuit brought by three bloggers by agreeing to give them press credentials.

The bloggers filed suit more than one year ago, after the New York Police Department rejected their applications for press passes. The bloggers argued that the police shouldn't discriminate between traditional and online media when making such decisions.

There are good reasons to say the police shouldn't be in the business of deciding who's a journalist. But, given that the police take it upon themselves to make that determination, it's hard to see how they justified treating those who publish online exclusively differently from those who also publish in print.

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