Monday, August 15, 2016

ASNE lauds new laws granting freedom to student news media, endorses national movement

The American Society of News Editors has adopted a resolution welcoming new laws in Illinois, Maryland and North Dakota that aim to protect the ability of college and high-school journalists to write about issues of public concern, and calls on all other states to follow their lead.

“A free and independent student media is an essential ingredient of a civically healthy campus community, conveying the skills, ethics and values that prepare young people for a lifetime of participatory citizenship,” the resolution says.

ASNE President Pam Fine said, “Student journalists need to have confidence they can report freely, without fear that they will be restrained from publishing stories that may be unpopular.”

ASNE directors passed the resolution in response to Illinois' July 29 enactment of the Speech Rights of Student Journalists Act (HB 5902), making it the 10th state in the nation – and the third in the past 12 months – to enact statutory protection for student journalists "that goes beyond the minimal rights guaranteed to students under federal law," ASNE said in a news release.

A national “New Voices” initiative is working with advocates in at least 19 other states to bring a more balanced approach to the oversight of student media, with bills now pending in Michigan, Minnesota and New Jersey. ASNE joins the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Council of Teachers of English and the Journalism Education Association in endorsing the movement.

“The consensus of those most knowledgeable about how journalism is practiced and taught is overwhelming: Students can’t learn to be inquisitive, independent-minded journalists – or inquisitive, independent-minded citizens – when schools exercise total control over everything they say and write,” said Frank D. LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center. “If the nation’s chemists or physicists came together and told schools that they were teaching chemistry or physics in ways inconsistent with the best practices of the field, we’d see immediate change. Now the nation’s journalists have come together and told schools that heavy-handed institutional image control mis-educates young people in ways irreconcilable with the best principles of journalism.”

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