Awards recognize "New Voices" student-rights champions

Advocates responsible for the enactment of laws protecting student journalists in Illinois, Maryland and North Dakota will be honored this fall at the nation’s largest high school journalism convention.

The Journalism Education Association is presenting its “Medal of Merit” award to five longtime journalism educators recognized as leaders in the field, among them North Dakota’s Sue Skalicky and Illinois’ Stan Zoller. Skalicky, who teaches at Legacy High School in Bismarck, and Zoller, a former journalism adviser at Rolling Meadows High School, were key organizers in the “New Voices” campaigns that led to the enactment of laws in their states that limit the grounds on which schools can censor student media.

Skalicky’s colleague Steve Listopad was named a JEA “Friend of Scholastic Journalism,” an award that recognizes someone outside of high school journalism who has significantly contributed to the advancement of the field. While teaching journalism at the University of Jamestown, Listopad organized his students to draft what became the John Wall New Voices of North Dakota Act, the first state statute protecting student press rights to become law since 2007, ending a drought of eight years.

JEA also will recognize Rebecca Snyder, executive director of the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association, for her leadership in successfully steering a New Voices law through the Maryland legislature. The law takes effect Oct. 1.

“New Voices” laws blunt the impact of the Supreme Court’s 1988 ruling, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, which diminished the First Amendment protection of student-produced media, by providing only limited grounds on which a school or college can censor students’ journalistic work. The Maryland act provides explicit anti-retaliation protection for journalism educators as well.

The awards will be presented at the National High School Journalism Convention Nov. 10-13 in Indianapolis, sponsored by JEA and the National Scholastic Press Association. Information about getting involved in the New Voices legislative reform movement is available at