Prior review, censorship and advisers at risk: Nebraska needs New Voices now
Nebraska is one of several states currently considering a New Voices bill which would protect the First Amendment rights of student journalists in the state by making it much more difficult for administrators to legally censor them.
Censorship incidents have been unfurling at the very same time LB88 is moving through the Nebraska legislature. Take Westside High School in Omaha, where things have gotten so bad several students say they're ready to quit the journalism program, and both journalism advisers have resigned. Things started when the administration began enforcing a strict prior review policy that had been on the books for decades but never acted on. This slowed down the reporting process and caused students to self-censor. The administration even censored an op-ed students wrote about the censorship.
Then there's North Platte High School, where the administration chose to defend the First Amendment rights of students flying Confederate flags on campus, but not the student journalist who attempted to cover the practice and related racist incidents. The principal cited "inaccuracies" in her stories, but refused to tell the reporter what to fix, and stonewalled until she called the Student Press Law Center's legal hotline for assistance. She eventually decided to publish her piece in the local paper instead.
If passed, LB88 will protect future students from this kind of overt censorship. Instead, student journalists will be able to focus on what really matters: reporting the stories most important to their classmates and community.
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California State University Fullerton graduate Ebehi Aboiralor talks about how participating in the Student Press Law Center's Summer Media Law & Policy Institute in 2020 helped her connect with mentors, gain hands-on experience and influenced her decision to apply to law school.
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