The Society of Professional Journalists Colorado Pro Chapter and Colorado Student Media Association strongly condemn the firing of two Regis Jesuit High School journalism advisers and the censorship of student journalists over an opinion column published in the now-retracted winter edition of the student magazine.
In the column, students followed the abiding standards of responsible journalism to argue in favor of keeping abortion legal in the United States.
Spurring this debate, in a publication affiliated with the Catholic Church no less, is well within the spirit of the Society of Professional Journalists’ preamble. We believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy.
The retaliation Regis Jesuit students and teachers were subjected to by school administrators is a chilling example of what happens when those in positions of power fundamentally misunderstand the importance of free speech and a free press, both of which are enshrined in our country’s First Amendment alongside freedom of religion.
While we recognize there is little legal protection or recourse for student journalists at a private institution, the retaliatory actions and censorship by Regis Jesuit High School administration are unacceptable and contradict a fundamental principle of both faith and journalism: the pursuit of truth.
We stand in support of Regis Jesuit High School’s student journalists and call on school administrators to establish a policy that ensures student journalists can seek truth and report it without interference, censorship or fear of retaliation.
Thirty-five students from six schools participated in the Society of Professional Journalists Colorado Pro Chapter’s college student internship and job fair on Feb. 19 at the Denver Press Club. The SPJ Colorado Pro board sponsored the event so underclassmen could interview for summer internships and May graduates could interview for entry-level jobs.
“Some very impressive talent, and a terrific turnout from the students,” Evergreen Newspapers editor Doug Bell said. “These events not only provide our imminent graduates a chance to practice their interviewing skills but also are a networking bonanza.”
The session was scheduled for 1-4 p.m. and ran 30 minutes longer because many of the print, broadcast and digital students interviewed with three or four of the news organization representatives.
The fair was open and free to students, and they were encouraged to bring their resumes, clips and portfolios.
According to Bell, “The editors on hand to do the interviewing were clearly impressed, and came away with a valuable collection of resumes.”
Janis Carrasquel Hernandez, a Metropolitan State University-Denver fall 2015 journalism graduate, said, “I enjoyed the job fair greatly. It was an occasion to meet face-to-face with Colorado’s prospective media employers and learn about what they are looking for.
“It was also a good professional networking event where I talked with colleagues about their projects and exchanged job hunting tips and knowledge.”
Denver Post internship recruiter Alexandra Alsonso also noted the students’ appreciation for the interiew experience.
“I’m so glad that that a few of the students felt like they left the fair with helpful information,” she said. “I was very happy to meet such a diverse group made up of attendees who were well-prepared, had great questions, and who were receptive to feedback and suggestions when talking about their next step.”
Mile High Sports web editor Michael Jaycox appreciated the students’ enthusiasm in pursuing journalism careers.
“This was my first time representing Mile High Sports at a job fair, and I couldn’t have been more impressed,” he said. “The students and applicants were not only qualified and prepared, but engaging to speak with. What I was most impressed with, though, was their excitement to know more about the industry and different possible pathways towards a journalism career.
“Even if Mile High Sports wasn’t the perfect fit for an individual applicant, we were able to discuss their future in other ways, and I feel both sides came away with something useful.”
Colorado SPJ partnered with the Colorado Press Associaton in visits to college journalism programs last fall, and the visitation team members emphasized the importance of internships. The Feb. 19 program was the first internship/job fair hosted by Colorado SPJ because the chapter board believed spring semester was a good time to reconnect with students.
“Thanks to SPJ for putting on one of the best internship/job fairs I’ve seen,” Greeley Tribune editor Randy Bangert said. “I came away with a stack of more than a dozen resumes from passionate, enthusiastic and talented journalists that I’d like to have in our newsroom at some point. It’s great to see so many young journalists who are eager to develop their skills and experience real-world journalism.”
Freedom of information laws will be discussed by three experts at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Place.
Sponsored by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the program is a part of the organization’s Sunshine Week project. The event is free and open to the public.
Sunshine Week, March 15-21, is the annual national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.
The project is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Gridiron Club and Foundation. National coordinators are the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Keli Rabon is an investigative reporter for 7News. She was the lead reporter for KMGH’s ongoing series “Contrary to the Public Interest” about problems with Colorado’s open records laws. The series received the SPJ Colorado chapter’s First Amendment award in April 2014.
Jeff Roberts, a former Denver Post reporter, is executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.
First Amendment attorney Steve Zansberg of Levine, Sullivan Koch and Schulz, is the CFOIC president.
Metered street parking is available in front of and near the Press Club on Glenarm Place. The meters accept credit cards. Parking is also available in a public lot on the southwest side of the Press Club.