By Roger Utnehmer
Sturgeon Bay is one of few school district in America that banned news reporters from covering Tuesday’s student walkout and protest against gun violence.
Gagging news coverage of a protest is not a very good civics lesson school district personnel are teaching students.
The protest at Sturgeon Bay High School included several members of the public who appeared in support of students who staged the walkout. Only news reporters were told to get off school property, not parents standing in support of students or others on school property observing the protest.
A public protest on public property with public participation is newsworthy. No school district administrator or high school principal should have the power to stop reporters from doing their jobs. No school district administrator or high school principal should have the power to prevent ideas expressed at a public forum, on public property, with members of the public in attendance from being reported.
In hundreds of school districts across America, students learned a valuable lesson about their freedom of speech. They also learned about the role of the news media covering legitimate news events. Responsible reporters interviewed articulate students. The coverage has stimulated discussion and engaged generations in a dialogue about gun violence. That is basic civics at its best. But not in Sturgeon Bay.
Sturgeon Bay students were denied that opportunity. District Administrator Dan Tjernagel and Principal Robert Nickel prevented voices from being heard and dialogue from taking place. Hopefully, this shameful abuse of power by Tjernagel and Nickel will teach them a lesson in civics so they never gag media coverage of legitimate news again.
That’s my opinion. I’d like to hear yours.