TAJE

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Q&A About New Voices

What is New Voices?
New Voices is student-led movement aimed at protecting students so they can report on their communities without the fear of censorship by their school administrators.

I think my administrators are practicing prior review/I’m being censored. What can I do?
– Reach out to the Student Press Law Center and schedule a phone call with Senior Legal Counsel Mike Hiestand or Staff Attorney Sommer Ingram Dean. Tell them the specifics of the problem(s) you are facing and they will give you legal advice or tips based on the situation.
– If you need immediate assistance, press JEA’s Panic Button and it will generate a short online form you can fill out explaining your situation. A Student Press Rights Commission member will help you as soon as possible.
– Although prior review is legal under Hazelwood, you can still talk to your administrators about why it is not beneficial for them to practice it and how it impacts the learning process of student journalists.

What topics have administrators deemed controversial and censored in the past?
Some topics include relationships/sex education, protests/walkouts, other students/staff and the banning of a book.

Why is it important for student journalists cover these topics?
Students have access to all kinds of information at their fingertips and can go to random sources to find the answers they’re looking for. Instead of going to a site which isn’t trustworthy or has false information, they could look to these student journalists who cover these controversial topics using accurate, fact-based information. It is also imperative students talk about these things and encourages others to voice how they feel so they become more involved. It can be a place where students embrace other opinions and ideas instead of oppressing them.

Why is educating students, advisers and administrators about press freedom important?
One common misconception about New Voices is it is essentially a free-for-all where students stop reporting responsibly, and that isn’t the case. Student journalists would still practice responsible reporting, following their ethics and guidelines. New Voices is not only about fighting for student press rights, but it is also about educating other students of the First Amendment rights they are given and how they should use them. When advisers are educated in this area, they can learn how to fight for their students’ rights as well as what resources they have to help them do that. Likewise, administrators can lessen their oversight of school publications and build a strong relationship with their student journalists.

What can I do to get involved in the New Voices of Texas movement?
Take this survey to let us know you are interested in fighting for student press rights and spread the word on your social media! You can also follow the New Voices of Texas Twitter at @VoicesTexas for updates on the legislation and resources.

Are there any resources I can use to educate myself and/or my media publication about student press rights/responsibilities?
The Student Press Law Center
FAQ’s for the Student Press Law Center on student rights:
Press Freedom in practice manual
JEA Statements on things like prior review, student free expression, internet freedom of expression, etc.
New Voices Website
Constitution Day lessons by JEA Scholastic Press Rights Director Lori Keekley

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