The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) applauds the outstanding efforts of a group of secondary school student journalists to make the Student Press Freedom Act (SPFA) law in British Columbia.
“In a time when institutions are increasingly throwing up roadblocks to prevent journalists, of all ages, from speaking truth to power, the spirit and intent of this bill is a critical step to upholding the fundamental rights to a free press and free expression that are embedded in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said Brent Jolly, CAJ president.
The SPFA is the product of significant work led by Vancouver-based high school student journalists Spencer Izen and Jessica Kim. Inspiration for the draft bill was drawn from a sequence of events both experienced last year when their newspaper, The Griffins’ Nest, was censored by their school’s administration for writing an editorial critical of their school district’s decision-making process.
Unwilling to accept the district’s efforts to silence their reporting, the students contacted the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. The editorial was subsequently published in its uncensored entirety.
While the text of the draft bill has yet to be finalized, the CAJ board of directors endorses efforts to strengthen the protections afforded to student journalists. The CAJ supports the view that no journalist should be disciplined or retaliated against for reporting accurate information in student media that adheres to accepted journalistic standards.
“Just because a journalist is young and doesn’t have the backing of a large news outlet shouldn’t preclude them from asking powerful people tough questions and holding them accountable for their actions,” Jolly said.
More information about the campaign is available here.
The Canadian Association of Journalists is a professional organization with more than 1,100 members across Canada. The CAJ’s primary roles are public-interest advocacy work and professional development for its members.
For more information contact:
Brent Jolly, CAJ president