Taking on the Press by Melvyn Bernard Zerman, "Helpfulness to the Student Journalist"

Essay by heyjudeHigh School, 10th gradeA+, March 2009

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Helpfulness to Student JournalistZerman's Taking on the Press is a must read for all student journalists. This text discusses the conflict between the first amendment rights of the press and those of individuals and of the government, using well-known cases to demonstrate how delicately these rights are balanced. Zerman provides a history of the struggles of the press to retain their freedoms, from as far back as 1476 where a license had been required in England to print anything at all (10), all the way up to recent times where journalists still fight for the freedom to tell the public about what is going on.

Zerman begins his text by telling the story of young Charlie Quarterman, a sophomore at Pine Forest High School who had dared to pass out copies of his underground newspaper even after he had been suspended for doing so. Rule seven of Pine Forest's General School Rules stated clearly "each pupil is specifically prohibited from distributing, while under school jurisdiction, any advertisements, pamphlets, printed material, school material .

. . without the express permission of the principal of the school" (5). Quarterman did what few students ever thought of doing: he took the school to court, claiming that rule seven went against his constitutional right to freedom of the press.

By introducing his book with the story of a high school student, Zerman sparks the young journalist's interest and encourages him to delve a bit deeper into the laws and ethics concerning journalism. Zerman further explores the conflict between the First Amendment and the rights of individuals in other cases, such as Time, Inc. v. Hill where it is questioned whether or not the press has the right to put a family in the spotlight just when they thought the crisis was over (23-33), and...