As a recent recipient of a master's degree in journalism (from University of Arizona), I identify completely with the three student reporters, and am quite disturbed at the decision against them.
What kind of training is it for aspiring journalists to be taught about the First Amendment and then be intimidated against pursuing controversial subject matter?
The ultimate authority for high school newspaper material should be the reporters' teacher, who presumably will have training in journalism. It is not the principal's role to supervise newspaper stories.
The students' struggle against censorship also hit home with me, because it bears some interesting parallels with a 1984-85 experience of mine as an Army journalist assigned in Korea. Like them, I wrote an article (on organized venereal disease control) that had some sexual subject matter, and it was killed by a higher up. Like them, I challenged the order, and even got two senators involved. And similar to them, I was finally given the official federal thinking that what happened wasn't censorship, it was "commander's prerogative."
Each case seems to demonstrate the Big Brother and Orwellian thinking are alive and well in Washington, D.C.
JOHN D. WAGNER