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Local student-journalist gets story published by SPLC

Student Press Law Center
Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 7:01 PM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) -Last year, a student at North Platte High School (NPHS) stole a Confederate flag from another student’s car. The student newspaper decided to write about the incident. They learned that some students felt targeted by their peers and experienced forms of racism. In the story written by Sophia Walsh, she spoke with students who felt a sense of pride from the Confederate flag and students who were offended by it.

“It is different for each person who owns a Confederate flag,” said Student-journalist Sophia Walsh. Some of them do solely have that pride for the South and want to remember the Civil War and things like that. The American flag does not feel the same for some people as it does for others.”

When the story first broke, Sophia Walsh recognized the significance of the story to the school, but the story soon became about the censorship of student media. After many revisions, fact-checking, and presentations to their advisory committee, the story continued to hit many roadblocks.

“Our first few questionings were about the flag and that situation and which they knew was happening, but then we started talking to students about racism,” said Walsh. “I think people were worried about how things would be viewed.”

After being silenced from NPHS, Walsh took the story to the Bulletin after contacting the Student Press Law Center.

“I asked if it was okay if I took the story there, that even if it was written at my high school and they said yes,” said Walsh. “As long as it wasn’t published at the school, it is not their property and I can take it somewhere else and I did.”

From there, the story was published in the North Platte Bulletin, and then on the Student Press Law Center’s website and social media pages.

“The censorship of the story the story and others like this one need to be other there because they start a conversation,” said Walsh. “Even if you are arguing, you are talking and asking questions to other people. Even if you are yelling at them, you are still trying to connect with that person and that is still really important.”

Legislative Bill 88 discusses student journalism in high school and college settings.

“Everyone who supports that students should not be censored for what they write. I urge people to go to talk to their senators about LB 88,” said Walsh.

The bill regarding student journalists LB 88, sponsored by Senator Adam Morfeld, was unanimously passed out of the judiciary committee on March 11, 2021.

Senator Morfeld declared it a priority bill thereby assuring that it will be debated on the floor of the legislature soon.

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