New Voices campaigning for student press rights in Georgia

New+Voices+advocates+for+student+press+rights+suppressed+by+the+Hazelwood+School+District+v.+Kuhlmeier+court+case+in+1988.+Starting+with+the+efforts+of+Nakia+Harmon%2C+a+senior+at+McIntosh+High+School%2C+advisers+and+student+journalists+are+working+to+generate+interest+and+develop+potential+legislation.+

Craig Bardo

New Voices advocates for student press rights suppressed by the Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier court case in 1988. Starting with the efforts of Nakia Harmon, a senior at McIntosh High School, advisers and student journalists are working to generate interest and develop potential legislation.

Caroline Hubbard, Editor-in-Chief

New Voices, a student-powered movement, is looking to expand into Georgia. 

“Under the current law in Georgia, student journalists receive less First Amendment protection for their speech and expression than other students who express themselves outside of school-sponsored media,” New Voices GA said in an email. 

Senior opinion editor Nakia Harmon from The Trail at McIntosh High School organized an interest meeting regarding the potential for New Voices legislation in Georgia. The meeting was open to student journalists and media advisers throughout the state. 

“[M]edia advisers also lack protection when they stand up for their students’ press freedoms. This decreases student journalists’ ability to publish relevant and impactful content and to grow as journalists,” New Voices GA said. 

Student press rights were originally suppressed by the Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeier case in 1988, which states that student press rights are subject to a lower level of protection under the First Amendment. Under Hazelwood, if school administration disapproves of a story, they have the power to take it down citing “pedagogical concerns.” 

There have been no known cases of direct censorship of student media in Georgia, but this is likely because students and advisers self-censor to avoid getting into trouble, causing problems, or potentially losing their jobs.

New Voices legislation has previously passed in 10 states — Hawaii, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Iowa, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Texas. A dozen additional states have proposed legislation to protect the rights of student media.

For more information, contact New Voices GA at [email protected].

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