FCPS Versus First Amendment Rights

George Mason and Freedom of the Press

Editorial Staff | Fairfax County Times

Just down the road from our offices, at Gunston Hall, a gentleman farmer and founding father from Fairfax County during colonial times, George Mason, worked tirelessly to ensure his fellow Virginians were not oppressed by a government located across the Atlantic Ocean.

Mason was elected to the legislature and was the primary author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776. This document was instrumental in crafting the Bill of Rights, composed by another Virginian and founding father, James Madison. Under the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment guarantees fundamental rights such as freedom of religion, speech, the right to assemble peacefully, petition the government, and freedom of the press.

Today, this editorial staff would like to discuss the freedoms afforded to all Americans and, most specifically, the Freedom of the Press. Recently, leadership from the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) media team requested a meeting at school headquarters with members of this broadsheet’s editorial staff. The purpose of the meeting proposed by FCPS leadership was “to better understand your editorial process and also discuss our basic expectations so that moving forward, we can work together more effectively.” We ask you to think about the words you just read – a government entity, the public school system, wanted to discuss THEIR basic expectations about how a newspaper in the county where George Mason led the effort for a free press should run its newspaper.

Nowhere in the U.S. or Virginia constitution does it authorize government entities to set expectations for a free and independent press. The owners and editorial staff politely refused the meeting and wanted to share this fact with our loyal readership. We did offer a written understanding of our production process and deadlines for all stories to receive information for consideration. We reminded FCPS that previous requests for information, comments, and clarifications have yet to be answered.

Our commitment to the citizens of Fairfax County: we will continue to cherish and live by the words written by George Mason and let no government entity try to control the narrative. We will continue to seek and report the truth even if it is displeasing to the public school system because this is precisely what George Mason would have wanted us to do.

This editorial was originally published on September 15, 2023 at FairfaxTimes.com.

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