EDITORIAL | What Student Press Freedom Day means to us

Featured are the 21 members of the spring 2024 staff of Sun News Daily, the student-run news organization at Utah Tech University. Student Press Freedom Day allows student journalists to celebrate their contributions to the community while emphasizing the significance of First Amendment liberties. Cora Mark | Sun News Daily

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We strive to be powerfully persistent.

To be a student journalist requires having grit in pursuing truth, investigating prominent stories and fighting against censorship, which is why Student Press Freedom Day’s theme is “Powerfully Persistent.”

Student Press Freedom Day’s sixth annual celebration occurs Feb. 22 and allows student journalists to celebrate their contributions to the community while advocating for the importance of First Amendment freedoms like freedom of the press. As Utah Tech University’s student-run news organization, it is important to highlight this day and all that it means to us.

The role of a student journalist is rewarding but not easy. Smiles are brought to our faces as we see the campus and community enjoy our stories; however, it occurs after several interviews, hours of writing and editing, and meeting deadlines while still tending to all of our other student responsibilities.

On top of that, we live in a world of constant information and deception, and navigating through that is an incredibly grueling task. Student journalists don’t let this stand in the way of telling the truth, even if that is going against common beliefs. We have to be the ones to stand up against opposition and confront others at face value because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t ever uncover the truth. Due to this, we often get backlash when we don’t report on the majority opinion and refuse to conform to peer pressure.

As student journalists, we are putting in the work, yet we are often not taken as seriously as major media platforms. Nonetheless, we are not just fulfilling our staff positions to get credits to graduate. We are striving to tell stories that matter.

We are proof of the “active learning. active life.” motto at Utah Tech through the hands-on experiences of our day-to-day Sun News commitments. Through interviews and taking newsworthy photos, we are experiencing the world of journalism.

For many of us staff members, journalism is the career path we are planning on pursuing after graduation. These staff positions are like our future jobs. Therefore, we take our positions on Sun News very seriously and deserve to receive the same respect and care in return.

All of this wouldn’t be possible without the freedom of the press. This freedom is often overlooked and not appreciated as much as it should be. The freedom of the press allows journalists to inform society about what is happening and ultimately helps make democracy function smoothly.

Despite this, student journalists are often left with fewer rights in comparison to both professional journalists and their fellow students. This can be seen in the way student news organizations are often deprived of their First Amendment rights, whether that be through frequent stonewalling or other forms of censorship.

Student Press Freedom Day falls on Feb. 22 because it is during Scholastic Journalism Week, and it is close to the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District decision that occurred Feb. 24, 1969. This court decision was one of the first steps in the right direction of allowing student voices to be heard. Through student journalism, we are able to push to have the voices of students heard and fight against censorship.

As a student-run news organization, we endure these struggles to make the community better one story at a time. Therefore, we will powerfully persist in seeking out the truth, investigating noteworthy stories and fighting against censorship.

Because at the end of the day, we are the voice of Utah Tech.