Journalists advocate against censorship

Student Press Freedom Day raises awareness of First Amendment rights

New Voices of Texas is a movement to guarantee student journalists in the state the freedom to report without fear of consequence.

New Voices of Texas

New Voices of Texas is a movement to guarantee student journalists in the state the freedom to report without fear of consequence.

Rebecca Covington, Editor-in-Chief

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To raise awareness of the censorship student journalists face and to advocate for the “New Voices Act” legislation, today is Student Press Freedom Day.

In the New Voices Act, school administrations would be prohibited from blocking or censoring student journalists in high schools and colleges. This is essentially an extension of the First Amendment right of freedom of the press to students wishing to better inform their community and talk about topics that matter to them, no matter how controversial. Today, students across the country advocate for this right and fight against censorship from school administration.

Originating in North Dakota, the New Voices Act legislation originated as the John Wall New Voices Act in 2015. As of today, 13 states have passed new Voices bills restoring the Tinker Standard (1967), which protects student speech unless it is libelous or creates a “clear and present danger.” These include Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Colorado, Oregon, North Dakota, California, Maryland, Illinois, Washington and Pennsylvania. The bill also aims to protect public universities from court interpretations that allow administrators to censor legitimate speech easily. Students enrolled in private universities also retain the same rights as their public school counterparts.

Texas lacks legislation protecting students and their advisors’ first amendment rights. On top of censorship, students and advisors could face consequences and punishment for what they publish, even if it is legitimate. It is detrimental that students have to be careful about what they report and publish, even if it is news that the community cares about. Today, we, as journalists, advocate for our First Amendment right to report the news as it is our job to our peers, school and community.

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