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West Virginia makes it 17 New Voices states


West Virginia became the seventeenth state to pass New Voices legislation March 23. The new law, The Student Journalist Press Freedom Act, goes into effect June 9, 2023.

In a March 24 press release, the Student Press Law Center indicated a key part of the law ensures that high school and college students determine the content of school-sponsored media and protects them from censorship except in “narrow, well-defined circumstances.”

close up photo of casino roulette
SWEET #17-Legislation’s wheel of fortune spun favorably for West Virginia’s student journalists and their advisers this month as the state became #17 with New Voices legislation.
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on

The law also protects advisers who shield students from retaliation for refusing to unlawfully censor student work.

The SPLC release mentioned current and former student journalists and teachers who spent three years advocating for student press freedom in the state, including Kellen Hoard, a recipient of SPLC’s 2022 Courage in Student Journalism Award

JEA State Director Morgan Bricker, student media adviser at Weir High, and her students supported the legislation.

According to the SPLC release, Bricker called working to pass the legislation inspiring, compelling and validating the First Amendment.

“Seeing my students so engaged and determined to advocate for their own rights, bravely writing op-eds and contacting legislators, has been extremely validating,” Bricker said. “It tells me that they really are listening as I teach them about the First Amendment, press freedom and media law, and it motivates me to continue to improve and develop my skill as an educator.” 

For further information
SPLC press release on West Virginia
What you can do to restore and protect student press freedom: a state-by-state guide
New Voices (and much more)