First Flights

OVERCOMING ADVERSITIES: CENSORSHIP

November 17, 2022

Regardless of current successes, editors over the years have faced numerous adversities and progressions throughout the years. Censorship and implicit bias, for example, was a huge hurdle in the past and remained until recently last year.

Ms. Carol Bamdad, the advisor who oversaw The Edison Eagle during 2001 experienced censorship issues while attempting to print a special edition of the newspaper regarding the turmoil of 9/11. 

“I felt it imperative that we print a special edition addressing it [9/11] immediately,” said Bamdad. “At the time there was a great deal of backlash against Muslims in the high school. We decided to put an opinion piece, written by my editor-in-chief, on the front page [which] addressed this issue head-on.”

And of course, a controversy as such may not escape the confines of restrictions. 

“The principal was angry, and my editor could not write for the paper for the rest of the year. Because of the furor over this, someone started an underground newspaper. He printed and distributed this,” added Bamdad.

Similar to The Edison Eagle, a few articles within the digital publication were revised at the suggestion of the principal; however, such “recalls” have allowed The Eagle’s Eye to take note of bias and focus on making quality, multifaceted articles.

With the New Voices Act, the writers of The Eagle’s Eye are protected from revising their content because of controversy.”

“In my mind, it was recalled necessarily. We did not have a well-rounded article,” said English teacher Diane Frey, one of the current advisors for The Eagle’s Eye in reference to the article “Return from Winter Break Brings Mixed Emotions”, which was asked to be rewritten on the grounds that the article used a biased sample of quotes. 

“There was bias,” said Frey. “Good things came out of that ‘recall’: Our focus this year is making sure that we are fair and well-rounded in our reporting.”

The passing of the New Voices Act within New Jersey earlier in 2021 now further protects student journalists’ First Amendment rights. In other words, students no longer have to ask permission before publishing controversial articles. With this new law, the writers of The Eagle’s Eye are protected from revising their content because of controversy.

“[Journalists] should be aware that they have a unique responsibility to offer an alternative with accurate, balanced reporting,” added Ebeling. 

Nevertheless, staff writers and editors are now focused on improving the quality and diversity of their articles and interviews by capturing the breadth of opinions within EHS. 

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