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New Year brings hope for New Voices

Posted by on Apr 16, 2019 in Blog, New Voices, Scholastic Journalism | 0 comments

by Jackie Mink, JEA Emeritus Member
This past January, I saw television reports about  members of the UnitedStates Congress being sworn in for this new year. I also saw this happening with the Missouri legislature, which is the state where I live.

New sessions makes me think of the New Voices of Missouri legislation, a movement to guarantee student journalists in the state freedom to report without fear of consequence. 

Right now, there is no added protection against administrative censorship for high school or college journalists and their advisers, leaving them vulnerable to censorship for simply reporting the truth. 
According to the New Voices web site and Facebook:
• For three years in a row, the Missouri Senate failed to call New Voices reform legislation for a final floor vote despite nearly unopposed approval in the House and in the Senate Education Committee. 
• Rep. Kevin Corlew introduced a new version of the Cronkite New Voices Act, HB 441, Jan. 5, 2017. The 2017 version addressed concerns raised during 2016, including clarifying that schools and colleges are immune from legal liability for the speech of their students in journalistic publications.
• The bill in 2018 would have guaranteed freedom of the press in school-sponsored media for both public high schools and public colleges. Not all speech is protected under the bill. Exemptions include: speech that is libelous,  incites violence, contains a threat, engages in illegal activity, violates the rights of others, advertises an illegal product, encourages breaking school policies. 
• This was the third straight year the bill  (which would establish the Walter Cronkite New Voices Act) had passed the House with heavy support and passed a Senate committee, but it has never been brought before the full Senate.
   • Before the bill was brought up for the committee vote, there were concerns that groups representing school boards planned to propose “killer amendments” that would severely weaken the bill. 

The New Voices of Missouri Facebook page urged supporters to contact committee members and ask them to reject these changes.
     The Missouri Education Association, the Missouri Press Association and the Missouri College Media Association all support the  2019 legislation.

Dr. Robert Bergland, a professor of journalism and digital media at Missouri Western University emailed me and said, “ In addition to individuals calling/writing, is teachers encouraging their students to write/call.  If media advisers set aside 10 minutes to have their students write a quick 
e-mail or letter/postcard to their Senator (if they wish), that would be great for the bill and a good lesson in participatory democracy. We might want to do the same for the Governor if/when the bill passes the Senate, to have students and teachers and allies encouraging the governor to sign it. Also, encourage people to like/follow the Facebook page.”

 I emailed and called the office of  Missouri State Senator Gina Walsh.  She is my state senator, the minority floor leader, and her district encompasses Hazelwood East High School where the Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeier case began over 30 years ago.  I requested information about whether she supported this bill or not.  I have not heard back as of April 12.  The legislative session ends May 17.

I hope the  Show Me State, which is the state of the famous journalist Walter Cronkite, the renowned  University of Missouri Journalism school,  active and involved student journalists, also the location where the Hazelwood case took place, will be able to pass the New Voices bill this year.

Check out the New Voices Missouri Facebook page to keep up on what happens in Missouri and other states where there is an effort to pass bills.  
 New Voices legislation has passed in 14 states, with Washington passing a version of the bill in 2018.

Student Press Law Center reporter Cory Dawson wrote Feb. 28, 2019, “Fourteen states already have New Voices laws on their books. So far in 2019, bills have been introduced in 11 states, although two have already failed to pass out of the committee stages. Arkansas (HB1231), Missouri (HB743), Nebraska (LB206), New York (A03079), Texas (SB514), Indiana (HB1213) and New Jersey (A238) already have bills moving through the legislature, whereas bills in Minnesota and Pennsylvania will be introduced in the coming days and weeks. Virginia and Hawaii’s bills have already been killed.”










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Contests should stress how to be journalists as much as they do winning

Posted by on Mar 31, 2019 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


by Stan Zoller, MJE
The late sports writer Jerome Holtzman penned a book, “No Cheering in the Press,” which is a collection of fascinating tales by some legendary sports scribes.

In the book, the scribes describe the ascent to the top of the craft to cover some of the nation’s most famous, if not infamous, sports legends.

To no surprise, the ride to the top was accentuated by talent, luck and, of course, hard work.

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When is free speech not so free?

Posted by on Mar 25, 2019 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Just because legislation or mandates say they protect and promote student voices and student thought, doesn’t necessarily mean they do.

by Candace Bowen, MJE
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

That may be a cliché, but it’s often spot on. And no more so than news lately of various orders and state legislation and school policies seeming to promote free speech. That’s a great idea, right?

Well, maybe not.

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Fools, wills and quotes: credibility disasters

Posted by on Mar 17, 2019 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


by John Bowen, MJE
It’s that time of year.

Senior quotes. senior wills and April fools sometimes can be considered the three Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

They  have minimal journalistic value and can quickly damage a staff’s –– and a school’s –– reputation and credibility.

What’s a good media staff to do?

The decision is even more difficult if it involves adamant seniors who demand such humor for their yearbook. Or, if for some reason there’s always been one. Tradition is a powerful wall to breach. With April Fools, some media missions call for entertainment. So, why not?

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‘Hardly any confidence’

Posted by on Mar 10, 2019 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Scholastic journalists must seize the opportunity to improve confidence in media

by CyndiCrothers-Hyatt
A recent national poll conducted by the Columbia Journalism Review asked Americans about their confidence in the press. It’s no surprise that in our country’s current climate there is a level of distrust of the media among Americans.

But the results were shocking. Not only is there mistrust but the level is staggering and mind-blowing.

The poll asked about confidence in seven institutions:  military, law enforcement, universities, the Supreme Court, the Executive Branch, the press and Congress. The group that scored the highest in the “hardly any confidence at all” category?

The press.

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Students in the forefront

Posted by on Feb 24, 2019 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Students who can name one of the five freedoms in the First Amendment earn an appropriate t-shirt from Mary Beth and John Tinker. Represented on stage were Florida, Texas and Iowa. (photo by Candace Bowen)

by Candace Bowen  Third in a series
When anyone tells Mary Beth Tinker that students are the future, she firmly but politely corrects them: “No, they’re the present.”

If the students participating in the #Tinkerversary events this week are typical – and it would seem they are –, the present is in good hands.

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