Virginia should pass bill to protect student journalists

January 25, 2019 | The Blue & Gray Press

Journalists are not strangers to censorship, especially when it comes to student journalism. Students are often subjected to censorship when their stories are unflattering towards school administration or address controversial topics. But on Monday, a new bill will be proposed to the Virginia General Assembly. House Bill 2382, also known as the New Voices Bill, has been proposed by Del. Chris Hurst (D-Montgomery), a former journalist. This bill could change everything for student journalists.

This bill aims to protect student journalists from censorship. It says, “except in certain limited circumstances, a student journalist at a public elementary or secondary school or public institution of higher education has the right to exercise freedom of speech and the press in school-sponsored media, including determining the news, opinion, feature, and advertising content of school-sponsored media.”

The Blue & Gray Press faced its own challenges of censorship when we were initially denied funding for the 2018-19 school year. An important part of this bill is that it would protect student publications from censorship by administration even if they are financially supported by their schools. It also protects students regardless of whether the stories in question were “produced in conjunction with a course or class in which the student is enrolled.”

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