It’s time to cure Hazelwood.

The freedom of press is important to students now more than ever. In an effort to combat the effects of the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier decision, which restricted students’ First Amendment rights in school, states are trying to enact New Voices legislation. Indiana is among them.

This year, the New Voices Campaign introduced House Bill 1130 in Indiana. This is a bill would give freedom of speech and freedom of press protections for student journalists K-12. Having First Amendment rights is essential for students to be able to learn how to properly practice journalism. This bill would encourage growth and foster a better understanding of responsibility and ethics in student journalists by letting them practice journalism with protection from prior review and censorship.

The bill is currently looking for support from students, advisers, principals and legislators. If you’d like to help, contact your legislators and say you support HB 1130. Make sure to inform others about the legislation and have them contact their representatives in support of the bill, too. This bill needs to move to the Senate floor by Feb. 28 in order to stay alive.

Why This Matters

Student journalists cannot learn to be responsible, professional journalists if their work is being subject to censorship and prior review. Especially at a time when fake news and alternative facts are at the height of attention, it is important than ever to have well-educated journalists.

I was fortunate enough to have freedom of speech and freedom of press at my high school (Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri), so I was able to write about subjects such as the controversial integration of the Normandy School District into the Francis Howell School District, recreational usage of marijuana and students with special needs. Tackling these subjects meant I had to be professional about the issues and take on the responsibility of addressing any concerns about the topics. I grew a lot by participating in my high school journalism program and because I had these opportunities, I want to be sure that other students have these same learning experiences.

If you would like more information about the New Voices Campaigns going on in Indiana, there is an excellent opinion from the Indy Star here. If you would like to read more about efforts being made throughout the nation, you can read about them here, here and here.