What is the Role of a Student Newspaper?

The Har-Ber Herald is an Arkansas high-school student newspaper which was recently required to take down a story based on the school’s administrative order and is temporarily required to have approval granted before anything further is published.

The story in question is the publication’s report on five varsity football players transferring schools. Student journalists deemed the reasons for transfer, against school policies and the story shed an unfavorable light on the high school.

Anthony Pham, Editor-in-Chief of The Dolphin, said, “I was shocked that a school would be that willing to be so aggressive against their own newspaper.”

Issues regarding student publication don’t stop at the high school level. Le Moyne in the past has been under fire for their dealings with The Dolphin.

In 2006 Le Moyne College received a censure from the College Media Association (CMA) after The Dolphin advisor at the time, Alan Fischler was removed from his position by the college.

According to the CMA press release, the removal of Fischler was “an attempt to better control the content and quality of the student newspaper.”

The press release states that “a censure is CMA’s strongest statement of condemnation for schools that violate the spirit of the First Amendment.”

Professor of Communication & Film Studies and former faculty advisor of The Dolphin, Dan Roche said, “Le Moyne was rightly censured by the College Media Association for intruding upon the editorial freedom of The Dolphin. Though the censure wasn’t lifted for 10 years, the problems were fixed well before that. It simply took longer than it might have for the college to request a review of the changes.”

This censure was removed as of November of 2017, after current faculty advisor of The Dolphin, and Adjunct Instructor, Glenn Coin months earlier had initiated the steps required to request the censure’s removal from the CMA. Coin said, “It’s nice that the College Media Association finally recognized that… the administration is not interfering in any way with The Dolphin.”

Coin said, “a couple years ago we did a bunch of stories that the administration didn’t like… and expressed their displeasure at some of the stories… but they never made any attempt to stop us from publishing.”

Current Editor-in-Chief of The Dolphin, Anthony Pham said, regarding the student publication, “we hit on the stories that matter to the people and so sometimes people have to make the tough decision about covering a difficult story that might get them in trouble, but it gets the word out.”

Pham when asked, said that he has not experienced any kind of backlash from the administration for publications while he has been the Editor-in-Chief. Pham reflected on student’s voice when saying, “what the college offices are putting out is just one point of view… whereas students might have a completely different point of view.”