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SPJ supports strengthening student press rights in Missouri, other states




Paul Fletcher, SPJ National President, 804-873-1893, pfletcher.spj@gmail.com
Maggie LaMar, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785, mlamar@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS—The Society of Professional Journalists strongly supports the Walter Cronkite New Voices Act, which would strengthen press rights for high school and college students in Missouri.

The Missouri proposal is the latest in a series of “New Voices” bills filed in about 20 state legislatures across the country. North Dakota started the “New Voices” campaign when it passed the first such legislation in 2015, giving student journalists the ability to do their jobs under rightful protections of the First Amendment.

The Missouri measure was introduced by Rep. Elijah Haahr, R- Springfield, in the state House of Representatives on Jan. 20. It provides that “a student journalist has the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media, regardless of whether the media is supported financially by the school district or by use of facilities of the school district or produced in conjunction with a class in which the student is enrolled.”

SPJ National President Paul Fletcher said, “Student journalists set the foundation for the future of the profession. They are limited in their ability to do their job as journalists when government officials and administrations weaken their press rights.”

He added, “By passing the New Voices Act, Missouri will set a positive example for student press freedom everywhere. SPJ strongly supports the New Voices bill in Missouri and in every state where there is a New Voices campaign.”

A hearing on the bill will take place Feb. 1 in Jefferson City, Mo.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit spj.org.


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