Student rights, responsibilities lie in First Amendment

Priscilla Bonilla, Correspondent

More than 180 high school and college journalists were on the Wilkes campus Friday, April 12, as the Communication Studies Department hosted the 13th annual Tom Bigler Journalism Conference.

This year’s theme was, “The First Amendment: Student Press Rights and Responsibilities.” LoMonte, executive director of Student Press Law Center, clearly explained the rights students have to issue news.

“He did an excellent job engaging the students,” Dr. Mark Stine, associate professor and chair of the department, said. “His message was clearly apt to help students and advisers.”

Dominick Costantino, junior communications major and member of the Bigler Conference planning committee, said this year’s conference welcomed high school students from across Northeast Pennsylvania.

Stine and Costantino agreed this year’s conference was a huge success. They said offered insight for students and the rights they have as journalist as well as created awareness for advisers. Students and advisers attended various workshops and seminars throughout the day.

Bigler, a journalist and community leader, passed away in 2007. As a journalism instructor at Wilkes, he began the first journalism conference for high school students in 1990. Health problems caused Bigler to resign from full-time teaching in 2000. That year the conference was named in his honor.

LoMonte’s speech expressed the importance of students gathering and publishing news. He stressed the importance it plays in society as well as the responsibilities and rights the students’ hold as journalist.

LoMonte handed out blue bracelets that said “Cure Hazelwood,” which he called an infectious disease no one talks about because they are not allowed to. Hazelwood was a Supreme Court decision that allows public high schools to censor student media.

We need to put a stop to this fear of freedom of speech and cure this cancer, LoMonte said.