2019 being named the Year of Student Journalists honors, inspires


Kernel Opinions Sig

The Freedom Forum Institute and the Student Press Law Center declared 2019 the Year of the Student Journalist on Jan. 30. A Newseum article announcing the news said that the award was, “in recognition of the important role of student journalists, the impact they make, the challenges they face and to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1969 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, which defended the free press and free speech rights of students.”

What a pleasant surprise this was for so many hardworking student journalists around the country who’ve watched as our profession has faced threats and challenges and yet kept going. Our Kernel staff all felt very honored by this.

Recognitions like this feel great, especially when they so completely blindside us. And there have been several of these recently, all of which together reiterate to us the importance of what we do.

TIME named journalists as their 2018 Person of the Year; Kentucky student journalists were named the Kentucky Press Association’s Most Valuable Members in January; and now this. This certainly is the time that journalism is making a strong comeback through the passion of college students around the world, and more people are recognizing the value this estate has in our country and in our communities.

These great honors are not only exciting, they’re also extremely humbling and they represent a great challenge and responsibility to all of us to spend this year even more dedicated to press freedom than before. Sure, they represent years of hard work behind us, but they challenge us to make this year a year of victories, something we can only do if we never lose sight of how valuable our work is.

This year, as I finish up my undergraduate degree and prepare to enter the world of professional journalism, I promise to work to deserve this award. And I hope to see community members and journalists working even more closely together, both on global and campus-wide scales, to ensure a culture that values freedom for the generations to come.