Taking a break to stand up for a worthy cause: Student Press Rights

MANY OF YOU WHO READ this blog know me personally, and know what a passion I have for student journalism.

As the adviser of a high school newspaper, I'm incredibly excited about a bill that's going to go before the Washington state House Judiciary committee tomorrow morning, House Bill 1307. It's a measure that would protect student journalists (both high school and college) from censorship by their administrations except in instances of obscenity, libel or the threat of substantial disruption of normal school operations. It also would remove legal liability for the content from administrators (as long as they don't interfere with the content) and protect advisers who refuse to censor student work.

This bill is something that has needed to go on the books in Washington for a long time. There are many adults out there (including well-meaning administrators) who are afraid of teenagers who can think for themselves. But I'm here to tell you that it's under precisely those circumstances that kids do their best -- and most responsible -- work.

I see it everyday, teaching in an environment where kids work without the threat of adminstrative censorship. They produce a great publication, as you can see from the cover on the right.

If you're a resident of the state of Washington, I encourage you to check out the bill here. You can read the text of the bill here (it's a really short bill -- only like four pages), and read an analysis of the bill here (which will give you an even more brief overview of the bill).

If you count yourself a supporter of First Amendment rights and believe our democracy operates better when members of the media -- which high school journalists most certainly are, as the Supreme Court has affirmed -- get as little interference as possible from the government officials (school administrators) they cover, please consider taking the time to write your district's legislators in support of this bill.

It's simple to do! Find your legislator by visiting here, and typing in your address. Then click on the legislator's home page, and click on "e-mail" under the photo. Fill out the forms and click send -- it's that simple.

If you count yourself among those who aren't sure that high school students should have these kinds of freedoms, please visit this site, and click on the audio player for a simple, but eloquent, argument for this bill.

There is no reason to fear this bill -- six other states have similar legislation on their books (including California) and students aren't running around libeling everyone or publishing smut. (I promise.) The only thing we have to lose is the development of a better democracy made up of critically thinking citizens.

If you have any questions or concerns, or would like me to clarify anything with the bill, you can contact me here. Thanks for taking the time to read.


Anonymous said...

Rock on Nuss! Power to the unobstructed media!


your brother said...

Well done.

The Nuss said...

If you want to send your friends a copy of this post for their consideration, you can send them this link: http://hanginwithnuss.blogspot.com/2007/01/taking-break-to-stand-up-for-worthy.html.

Hey, Eric: Talk to your wife's family that still lives in the state. Get them on board with this!