Cure Hazelwood

Manahil Wajid, Reporter

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The case of Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier is one of the most famous legal matters in U.S history. In May 1983, the principal of Hazelwood High School in St. Louis, Missouri deleted articles on teenage pregnancy and the impact of divorce from the school newspaper by deeming them inappropriate.

In retaliation, three student journalists: Catherine Kuhlmeier, Leslie Smart and Leanne Tippet filed a lawsuit claiming that the school had violated the first amendment (which focuses on the freedom of speech). In their lawsuit, these students argued that their principal, Dr. Robert E. Reynolds, had interfered with the newspaper’s function as a public forum. Years later this case was brought to the supreme court, and the decision was in favor of the school supported by the reasoning that school newspapers are not as highly protected from censorship as compared to regular newspapers. Furthermore, school newspaper articles can be censored if the authorities find a legitimate and a pedagogical reason to do so.

Above is a summary of what this case was based on and it’s outcome. The Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier case is indubitably an important one, and in the arena where student journalism is concerned, it has immense significance. The basic definition of journalism is for news and information to be broadcasted and conveyed to people. Newspapers, websites, magazines etc. are used to convey thoughts, ideas, facts, events, news and many more. The sole purpose of a journalist is to impart news and information to an audience. And for this to be possible the freedom of speech undoubtedly plays an immense role.

Writing for the school newspaper has been and still is a great experience for me. Journalism is the best part of my day. There is a feeling of satiation when my articles are published, and the thought of knowing that my writing and articles share awareness and I get the chance to share my ideas without any hindrance is without a doubt appealing. As student journalists, it is our job to discuss issues and news that isn’t widely known and needs to be conveyed, but the fear of censorship affects the output of our articles.


Since childhood, we have been taught to express our thoughts and ideas and voice our opinions. We have been told it’s our right. So how is it different in the case of school newspapers?”

— Manahil Wajid

Look at it this way, if anyone tried to stop you from expressing your thoughts and ideas by using the power of authoritative actions against you, you’d be angered and frustrated to an unimaginable extent. Since childhood, we have been taught to express our thoughts and ideas and voice our opinions. We have been told it’s our right. So how is it different in the case of school newspapers? People use it to convey and express their ideas in the form of articles. And censorship of certain articles that are deemed inappropriate completely impedes this idea.

Personally, the Hazelwood students deserved a better decision; they went out of their way to fight for the freedom of speech. There still are certain articles that we can’t write but completely uncalled for. In the eyes of student journalist, the decision was an unfair one.

Speak up because the day you don’t speak up the things that matter to you is the day your freedom truly ends.

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