New Voices U.S.

Washington

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New Voices of Washington is a movement to guarantee student journalists in the state the freedom to report without fear of consequence. Right now, high school students have added protection against from administrative censorship — leaving college journalists and their advisers vulnerable to censorship for simply reporting the truth. New Voices of Washington aims to extend and bolster that protection to all student journalists.

“I’m so grateful to Senator Joe Fain for his visit to my journalism classroom last October and for being one of the sponsors of this legislation. It’s not stretching the point that my nine newspaper students (one homeless) convinced Joe that protecting student voices was important. We won’t win huge awards, we won’t stand on the Gold Crown or Pacemaker stands, but we will keep publishing our paper and its open forum, even if we can only get out one issue.”

— Thomas Custodio-Kaup, adviser for Auburn High School

The Washington legislature convened on January 11, 2016. On January 12, Sen. Joe Fain filed New Voices legislation. The Washington Journalism Education Association is supporting the bill. On January 21, a committee of state senators heard testimony from student journalists, high school advisers, free press advocates and school association officials regarding student press freedom legislation. The Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee largely showed support for increased student free speech and press rights, but the bill was held in the Senate Rules Committee and did not receive a vote during 2016.

Sen. Fain re-filed the same bill, now SB 5064, on Jan. 11, 2017. It is scheduled for a hearing Jan. 19 in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.

To get involved or to learn more about the movement, email newvoiceswa [at] gmail.com.

Washington