Goodman to promote student press

Christina Stavale

Beginning next year, high school journalism students will have an advocate for their press rights here at Kent State.

Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, has been chosen for the position of Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism. The position, Goodman said, will focus on the importance of press freedom for journalism students.

As executive director of the Student Press Law Center – which, according to its Web site, is a legal advocate for First Amendment rights for college and high school students – Goodman has already done a variety of work in this field.

“I’m very committed to student press freedom, and I believe it is the key to training good journalists,” he said.

Because he will not arrive at Kent State until January 2008, Goodman said he has not yet completed his agenda. One of his goals is to monitor state legislature that will give high school students more journalistic freedom.

Goodman said in recent years a greater number of states have considered such legislation, and if passed, it could greatly change high school journalists’ rights.

Candace Bowen, director of the Center of Scholastic Journalism at Kent State, said two things she hopes the center will be able to do is talk to high school administrators about press rights and get the professional media on its side.

“We’re trying to get every kid to understand the media,” Bowen said.

Pam McCarthy, a journalism teacher at Hoover High School in North Canton and a member of the search committee for the Knight Chair position, said age – in this case being under 18 – should not be a barrier for press freedom.

“I think in an educational setting, it’s kind of a crime not to educate students about their press rights and responsibilities,” she said.

Goodman said controlling what high schoolers learn and are able to report is “frightening to democracy.”

“It’s ultimately all about control. Schools want little controversy to make their lives easy,” he said. “But their job isn’t really about making their lives easier – their job is to educate students.”

Goodman said he sees many opportunities at Kent State beyond promoting student press rights.

“I hope I bring a real enthusiasm for journalism, for the teaching and learning processes, and helping mentor students as they figure out where they want their lives to go,” he said.

Barb Hipsman, chair of the search committee and associate professor in Journalism and Mass Communication, said Goodman’s aspirations clicked very closely with university goals.

“I think he’s a perfect match,” she said.

McCarthy described Goodman as “personable and articulate,” and someone people will want to listen to.

“He has a way of delivering information in a non-threatening manner, and makes you want to listen to him,” she said.

Having a Knight Chair in scholastic journalism is something Goodman said high school and college students should be excited about, and it is a positive reflection of student press rights.

“It shows a level of appreciation for student media that does not exist in any other part of the country,” he said.

Contact principal reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected].