Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Shocking Truth! Teens Can Write

Is there a future for newspapers? We here at L.A. Youth respond with a thunderous yes!

We’ve spoken through the voice of teenagers for 22 years and we’re still at it. We’re not only committed to print journalism, we have a lively website as well.

The death of the newspaper is greatly exaggerated, to paraphrase Mark Twain.

In 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school administrators had the right to censor articles intended for publication in school newspapers. I was stunned. The ruling was a body blow to the independence of the student press. Two decades earlier, the court had seemed to go in the other direction. In an Iowa case involving an anti-war protest, Justice Abe Fortas, writing for the majority, stated, “Neither students nor teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

The Supreme Court decision that day pushed me over the edge, so to speak. I decided to start a teen newspaper in Los Angeles.

I gathered a dozen high school youngsters at my house, some of them my children’s friends and told them we’re going to put out a newspaper you can call your own. I appointed myself publisher, editor, head fundraiser and chief delivery person.

Six weeks later, March 1988, our inaugural issue went to press.

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