Students celebrate press freedom

Shianna Gibbons presenting at the Student Press Freedom Day event. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By Hannah Werle / The Jambar

In coordination with the Youngstown Press Club, The Jambar hosted an event celebrating Student Press Freedom Day on Feb. 23.

The Student Press Law Center created Student Press Freedom Day six years ago to bring awareness to student journalists and the challenges of protecting free press in schools. Student Press Freedom Day was Feb. 22, with this year’s theme being Powerfully Persistent.

The event featured presentations from several members of The Jambar and Jambar TV, including Editor-in-Chief Molly Burke, Head Copy Editor Elizabeth Coss, News Editor Christopher Gillett, Line Producer Shianna Gibbons, and Managing Editor and Executive Producer Dylan Lux.

Diane Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Youngstown Press Club, worked with The Jambar to organize the event.

“The press club is always looking for ways to serve our student members. Mary Beth Earnheardt, [chair of the Department of Communications], came to us a few months ago and said, ‘Would [you] be interested in supporting this kind of a program?’” Fitzpatrick said. “I went to The Jambar students and they jumped in and planned the whole program.”

Fitzpatrick said student journalism is important because it’s the stepping stone to creating a strong press.

“It’s really important that everyone is aware that student journalists are journalists and they have the same rights and same responsibilities as professional journalists,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s important that everyone realize that you’re doing the same job. You’re holding public officials accountable, you’re informing your public and you’re serving your community.”

Another sponsor for the event was Youngstown State University’s chapter of Society for Collegiate Journalists. Adam Earnheardt, a communications professor and the faculty advisor for SCJ, said it’s important to celebrate press freedom in public universities.

“Student Press Freedom Day is a day set aside to help us celebrate the privilege of producing student media. We say press, but it’s not just press, there’s different forms of student media that we celebrate,” Earnheardt said. “It’s about honoring the extension of those first amendment protections that we get on a college campus [or] on a university campus.”

Earnheardt said many of the faculty in the Department of Communications encouraged their students to attend the event.

“In our department, we have a lot of faculty who — whether they’re teaching in journalism or not — celebrate these First Amendment protections because they’re not just for press, they’re also for speech, which we teach a lot of,” Earnheardt said.

Other sponsors included WKBN-TV, The Business Journal and The Anderson program in Journalism at YSU.

Those interested can read part of Burke’s speech here.

Editor’s note: Several presenters at the Student Press Freedom Day event are on The Jambar’s editorial staff.